Updated July 27 at 8:27pm

Leadership, not fear, is best way

Whether you know it or not, being a business owner also requires being a leader – especially if you have employees. If you don’t display good leadership skills, you won’t get the most from your employees, and your business will suffer.

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Leadership, not fear, is best way

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Whether you know it or not, being a business owner also requires being a leader – especially if you have employees. If you don’t display good leadership skills, you won’t get the most from your employees, and your business will suffer.

Despite good intentions, many business owners and managers unknowingly strike fear into employees simply by what they say – or don’t say. And fearful employees are not productive employees. They react to fear with the primitive “fight, flight or freeze” instinct and begin to focus only on their own survival, said Christine Comaford, a leadership consultant and author of the new book “How Teams Become Brilliant Together.”

Here are five ways that business owners inadvertently scare employees into a dysfunctional state:

1. You “help them out” by giving them solutions. When you constantly tell people what to do instead of encouraging them to figure things out on their own, you develop a business full or order-takers instead of innovators. By training them to always ask, you end up with a group of workers who are perpetually frozen in survival mode.

On the other hand, when you engage people in problem-solving themselves, you create a sense of safety, belonging and mattering.

2. Your meetings are heavy on sharing and point-proving, and light on promises and requests. Meetings that are rambling and unfocused send people into fear and confusion. But short, high-energy meetings that have a clear agenda keep everyone motivated. Ideally, you should focus on only enough information sharing to solicit requests from people who need something, and promises from people who will fill that need.

3. You give feedback to employees without first establishing rapport. In short, you must be able to influence people, not just boss them around.

4. You focus on problems, not outcomes. Instead of asking “What’s wrong?” and “Why is this happening?” You should ask “What do we want?” and “How will we create it?”

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