Groom creative thinkers.
Not everyone in your company will aspire to become a team leader or manager. As a CEO – the best assets of your company are your people, and without motivated and conscientious people, the odds of your business succeeding are fairly low. Therefore, you need to invest in your people and nurture them to the best of your ability. Here are 10 reasons why.
- They represent you.
In delivering tasks, taking accountability, and communicating with your clients and partners, your employees are a direct reflection of what you stand for, who you are and the value that your company projects. How they ‘sell’ or ‘promote’ you and the company will depend very much on how well you have instilled the values of the company and yourself as the CEO. This is something that is earned rather than mandated or forced upon individuals.
Respect is gained through inspiring people and making them feel valued and part of the company.
- They make decisions on your behalf.
Accountability for decision making often rests with people having various responsibilities in carrying out tasks. Whether dealing directly with the clients, over the phone or via email, employees will often be making decisions on your behalf given the responsibility you have afforded to them. And don’t forget, there are also internal choices that often need to be made on your behalf (i.e. human resources, finance, IT, marketing, etc.). Knowing the importance of effective decision making and understanding the implications of making incorrect decisions will help employees to understand the risks and benefits that result and the impact on the business (and ultimately their jobs).
Encouraging people to make decisions is one thing but mentoring them on how to make the right decision is even more important.
- Their quality of work is measured directly against their input.
Not just the time, but the method and approach employed to perform a task, or an anticipated outcome will determine the quality of work that is finally produced. People need to understand what is best for the business, and how their work, quality and ethics influence the final outcome or results.
If there was one thing I learned over the years employing and working with people and driving teams, is that people need to feel interested, if not motivated in what they do and say. Inevitably, this begins with embedding a purpose in terms of their roles, career and value within the business. Equally, given that the majority of employees are ambitious, they need to feel secure about their career advancement within the company. Individuals seek to satisfy three needs in life; purpose, direction and progression. Therefore you play a crucial role in helping to meet their needs.
Training employees is one of the most significant investments a company will make. From making sure they are developing and learning through to managing their tasks and work/life balance. However, one of the competencies that most leaders do not spend enough time focussing on is grooming their creative thinking.
- What is creative thinking?
Creative thinking is the ability of an individual to craft creative solutions to solve problems, complete tasks or come up with innovative ideas to help the business. You need to encourage and reward creative thinking and to create an environment that is forward thinking rather than being complacent. Creative thinking and innovation go hand-in-hand and will complement a business by projecting an image that competitors will aspire to be like. Likewise, often the image and reputation of a company will help to attract and retain good people within the company. Think about it!
- It can be risky.
However, supporting creative thinking requires investment in both people and time. Inspiring creativity within the business as a leader likewise, requires employees to do their part by taking on greater responsibility for their own actions and outcomes given the investment made.
Even though I have lost time, effort and funds training, developing and inspiring people to become creative thinkers, I have also been lucky to attract and continually find people whose skills and creative thinking I can harness by directing it towards the business (i.e. campaigns, new ventures, and so forth). In effect, this saves time and money on my part and adds tremendous value to the business at the same time. Balancing investment in people is not easy, but the results speak for themselves!
- Be ready to lose.
As the founding CEO or manager of a team, it often depends on your own circumstances and desires in building and sustaining the business. The real question, however, is whether you believe it is better to invest in people and establish a great team to be around you (i.e. creative thinkers) or spend less time and money in training and developing people just to get tasks done.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be a creative thinker, problem solver and decision maker all in one, as this is the main reason why your business has survived for so long. Your desire to build the business and create new opportunities has more than likely been driven by your need and desire for success. Imagine for a minute that within your business you have cloned yourself. Consider how the business would be managed, how objectives would be set, implemented and achieved and how the reputation of your business would benefit. While there may be teething problems along the way, people will quickly learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others by thinking more creatively.
Never spoon-feed your employees
Unfortunately, spoon-feeding will often create people who become dependent on others, instead of supporting team members or becoming future leaders. Instructing an employee on what and how to perform a particular task or outcome is easy, but unfortunately, they do not learn unless given the responsibility to think on their own two feet. In fact, this will often suppress creativity and motivation. As a business leader and entrepreneur, you do not want people relying on you every minute of the day. Instead, you want self-motivated people who will perform in their respective roles and help to grow the business and ultimately, think for themselves!
Let them create, every day.
We hire smart people so that we can leverage upon their skills and expertise, that can help build the business, services and clientele. Good people are often supported by strong business networks which they have grown and developed over many years. We employ people with expertise, experience and networks and this is but one of the many ways we can use to tap into these networks thereby helping to refine and broaden our ‘go to market’ approach and business solutions. Furthermore, by allowing these people to help drive and lead the business is also a way how we can attain the best results from every single person who steps through the front door of our organisation to join our team.
We don’t know everything.
I started my business as a stay-at-home-mother, with no academic degree, and who didn’t even know what the term “CEO” meant or stood for. So, how did I get here leading C-Level individuals, large global companies and fulfilling my duties as the CEO? This is the one question I often get asked. What I can tell you is that I hire and welcome people into my network, team and organisation to leverage on what they do, and sharing with them what I have learnt over the years in business. Sharing ideas and experiences is not something you can learn or pick up from a textbook, but its more about the emotions and personal experiences of others that help you as a leader. I have gained tremendous insights and knowledge from listening and learning from these people. In fact, many of these people have brought 20+ years’ experience in managing clients and formulating concepts and ideas with them which has ultimately helped to grow the business as it currently stands today.
So invest that time.
Investing and allocating time in creating a better environment for your employees is strategically important. Whether it’s sharing a laugh, eating together socially or building solutions, programs, campaigns, tasks, etc. – let them help you, and even let them dictate how you may achieve your objectives. In fact, you will be surprised in most instances, how creative some people are, both in the way they think and the way they act. Even if you are the CEO of the company, sometimes, “just letting go” will help employees become more creative and innovative in their outlook and behaviour. You may be surprised to see that most of your present and future problems will be solved even before they get to you. So, go ahead, give it a try and let go!