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Leadership 101: How to empower leaders in your business

Growing a business is no easy feat. It takes planning, time and most importantly, strong leadership. RedBalloon Founder and renowned Australian entrepreneur Naomi Simson has worked with many businesses to help them grow. 

Recently Naomi partnered with global fintech platform Airwallex on their ‘Choose Growth’ campaign, aimed at empowering small-medium sized businesses (SMBs) as they look to scale their business operations. 

Naomi shares some insights with Dynamic Business on what it means to be a leader and why a company’s growth is linked to its leader’s ability to lead.

Four steps to building a team of leaders to grow your business

A business is only as successful as its people. As a business owner, it is crucial that you surround yourself with the right team. Team members who share your vision and values and can help your business grow – especially during uncertain times. 

Developing an effective team is essential – but how do you actually go about it?

Here are my four steps to help you gather and guide your leadership team.

It all starts with you – identifying as a leader

Before you can build and grow a team of leaders, you must first start with yourself. Do you see yourself as a leader? Or do you identify as a manager? While these two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a big difference. 

While management is about nurturing the uniqueness of the individual, a leader unites everybody with their unique skills and drives them towards business goals. 

One of the biggest differences between a leader and a manager is the ability to inspire and influence. As a business owner, leading by example is important. A good leader will ‘talk the talk’ AND ‘walk the walk’, inspiring those around them and creating an environment where emerging leaders can learn, grow and flourish. 

The first step is to assess how you interact with those around you objectively. Are you process driven or make decisions by what feels right? Do you encourage debate and conversation, or do you have a clear vision to follow? While there’s no right or wrong, identifying gaps in your leadership style will help you build the right team with skills to complement your own. 

Know your strengths and weaknesses – but always remember it’s not all about you

Creating a team with a diverse mix of skills and experience is invaluable to a business. While good leaders know their strengths, great leaders know their weaknesses and are not afraid to hire accordingly. 

Here are some pointers to help you to understand your strengths and weaknesses better: 

  • Develop self-awareness – developing self-awareness comes from listening. Listen to those leading under you, your team members, mentors, and anyone else who can offer valuable insight into your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Know you and your team’s unique contribution – identifying everyone’s different and unique strengths. This will help you define where people can be best placed to make the most impactful contribution to the business’s success. Clearly understanding the unique mix of personality, talent, skills, and experience that make up your team is key – as they say, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” 
  • Recognise you can’t do everything – you cannot be all things to all people, nor are you expected to be. Recognising what you cannot do alone and building a leadership team with complementary skills. 
  • Develop accountability structures around you – accountability structures are vital to build a culture of listening, learning and, most importantly, giving your team space to make mistakes. 

There are many benefits to surrounding yourself with people you can trust, who will call you out on blind behaviour and challenge you – it will help you be a better leader.

Foster a curious mindset and gather the WHY 

Understanding your ‘why’ is essential to business growth and success – true leaders set out strong visions. The best way to ensure your people can share and identify with your unique story and execute on opportunities to advance it is to create a culture that is forward-thinking and curious by nature. 

Encourage big vision thinking; give your staff permission to dream and dream BIG. Find ways to ignite their imagination and provide time and space for open creativity. After all, your team is your most important stakeholder.  

Consider the following when sharing the WHY with your team:

  • The story – how did it all begin? 
  • Share the pivotal moments in the businesses’ history
  • What are your passions and desires, and how have they have shaped you and the business?
  • What do you want your business to be known for?
  • How does what you and your business do change lives?

Ask your team to think about how they can uniquely contribute to the business. What ideas and insights do they have? What experience do they have? What is important to them? What are their passions?

The WHAT and HOW – A strong strategy is essential

If the vision is the why then having a clear strategy is the what.

As a leader, it is important that you assemble everyone under a united vision. Having a strategy in place gives people direction and a sense of purpose. It allows them to achieve and accomplish goals and see how what they do directly contributes towards the ultimate vision of the business. 

There are many tools and templates available to assist in developing a strategy, but all usually have the following considerations:

  1. Defining your vision and values as a business
  2. Analysing your environment: know what your strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities are
  3. Identifying any risks and which ones are worth taking on (based on your vision and values)
  4. Setting measurable goals
  5. Communicating the strategy clearly. 

The best leaders help their teams reach their full potential, rather than seeing them as a vessel to help businesses achieve success alone. To make that shift from manager to leader, embrace your strengths and delegate your weaknesses, lock in a vision and set yourself and your staff up with a strategy to succeed. 

Read more: Let’s Talk – what leadership styles work best for SME owners?

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Naomi Simson

Naomi Simson

Naomi Simson is an entrepreneur, business leader, best-selling author, television presenter and sought-after keynote speaker. After launching the Australian online success story RedBalloon in 2001, Naomi co-found the Big Red Group (BRG) which is all about serving experiences to different audiences through its various brands. Before founding RedBalloon, Naomi worked for big businesses including IBM, Apple, KPMG and Ansett Airlines – all of which influenced her passionate views on workplaces.

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