Being the boss
How do you feel about being the boss? What about managing people? Does it make you feel energised and empowered or uncomfortable and exposed?
People have a myriad of different reasons for starting a business, and they have to overcome many challenges along the way, but many find it hard to fully step into the ‘boss’ role. For a business with co-founders, it can be an awkward moment when the person who everyone has agreed will take on the CEO/MD position actually steps into the role and becomes ‘first among equals’. Even many solo founders prefer to muck in and be ‘one of the gang’ for the first few years, in order to delay any overt differentiation of their role.
I recently met up with an entrepreneur who told me that it had taken her a while to fully embrace her CEO role. At the start she had not wanted to differentiate herself from her co-founders, preferring to talk about the team and thereby avoiding any potentially challenging conversations. As the company grows she is understanding that the team are looking to her to lead them, to show them the way, and that there are times when she does need to step forward and own her role, despite it potentially causing her co-founders discomfort.
I recently worked with a company who needed to form a strong management team to take the business forward and share the load with the founder/CEO, who had grown accustomed to taking most of the decisions alone. We talked about how her role will evolve, what it means to be a CEO of a growing company and how the management team are looking to her to empower and have confidence in them. Even something as seemingly simple as putting your ‘game face’ on during management meetings becomes important as your company grows.
A new client of mine shared with me that she was struggling with how to be the boss. She said that she did not feel comfortable with ‘talking down’ to people and having to tell people what to do. She had even concluded that she was not a good leader, even though she has grown her business over a number of years, overcome some really significant challenges and has a team who is very comfortable with her being their leader.
What I find really interesting about all three of these women is that none of them lacks confidence when it comes to talking about their businesses. They all have a clear vision of the future, can clearly articulate their value to customers, investors and partners and have no doubt that their businesses will thrive and grow. There is something about being the boss or the leader that made all three of them pause. I find a similar kind of hesitation in members of new management teams when they first take on the responsibility for managing others. It can be a daunting prospect especially if you are managing people who used to be your peers.
In my view leadership or being a good boss is not about having all the answers, about treading on any toes or talking down to anyone. It is about knowing where you are going, making time to listen to your people, empowering them to do their jobs and make decisions, and being focused on removing all and any blockages to progress. Your job is not to know more than your people, or to be able to do their jobs better than they can – quite the opposite in fact. Hire people who are better than you, give them the tools and support they need to do a good job and then get out of the way and let them get on with it. Your job is to conduct the orchestra. Ask them what they think rather than telling them what to do, give them clarity and confidence about the road ahead, show them the way and believe in their ability to deliver.
If you would like to discuss how to embrace your role as the boss, how you can become a better leader or improve how you manage your team, please get in touch.
Lisa Zevi – Co-Founder of REAL Business Builders