A couple of months ago, I spent some time in my blog talking about building a company culture for your business and some steps you can take to create it.
There was one point I didn’t have a chance to dive into as deep as I wanted.
This point can be a business and culture killer.
The point I want to touch on is how being a dictator can destroy your company culture and your business.
Even if your company culture is not as fun loving as ours and you prefer to keep things more serious, you should never run your business like a dictator. It damages creativity, prevents growth, and fails to create a company that can expand beyond a small team.
I’ve worked with lots of different business leaders, and I’ve seen companies struggle to grow when upper management is too controlling.
Here are some of the traits of being a tyrannical leader and how to avoid this.
What type of leader are you?
One of the things people love about our culture is we don’t run our business like an oppressive government.
My job isn’t to micromanage or pretend that I know everything. My job is to help my team and to give them the tools they need to carry out their work and be successful.
I never want them to look back and say they failed or something didn’t work out right because they didn’t have the support or the tools they needed to succeed.
As a leader, who is building your organization, you’ll find that compliance is sometimes nice to have. Sometimes, I simply want a ‘yes’ and want my team to agree without discussion. There is a time and a place for compliance and a time and place where debating every single decision is acceptable. But as you get around to the 50-100 employee mark, the reality is you have to add more managers and meet with those executives, some of which may not share that same viewpoint.
Being that I can’t manage all our departments myself, I have to put people in place who are talented and can lead.
The fact of the matter is, not everyone is going to manage their team the way you think it should be managed. For example, you might discover a department is super successful, but it operates in a way opposite of what you think is right. But if this department is performing well and doing a good job based on the measurables in place to track their productivity and work, then you can’t complain and shouldn’t sweat the stuff that you would’ve done differently.
As leaders, we will all manage differently. The goal is to hire managers and executives that aren’t dictators, yet set outstanding expectations with their teams.
Unity is more important than who’s right
When you add more leaders into the mix, there’s bound to be disagreements.
As I stated above, people will have different opinions on how to manage and what ideas to implement. These disagreements are not always bad. After all, discord can bring growth, and a piece of steel that supports the foundation of a large building doesn’t become solid metal without going through a refiner’s fire.
Opposition can be a blessing, as different opinions make you think by questioning your viewpoint. There have been countless times that I’ve had great ideas and bad ones that can be great but need work. Having leaders who can point out the weaknesses to improve an idea is a vital part of the process.
Our discussion process works because of who we’ve hired and placed in leadership roles, where I trust their insight and criticisms. But, like every good story, there is an ending. Eventually, you have to make the call when to drop an issue and decide. This is where things get tricky and where unity will be tested.
Most times when you are debating something, such as a particular idea, there will always be disagreements. Sometimes there’s not a clear right or wrong choice. In these circumstances, it can come down to what’s going to be better for keeping the peace.
As the CEO, it’s my responsibility make sure we’re all going the same direction as a business, even if it’s not my way. As a company, as a team, whether I’m right or wrong, we all need to move toward the same goal, because working together is better whether it was my original vision, or not.
There are lots of ways you can be successful, and most things aren’t black and white. But truth be told, you’re going to have the best chance of succeeding if everyone’s on board with the decisions made in your business while giving it their best effort. Your goal should be unity by getting everyone moving forward in the same direction. Sometimes this process will teach you things, too, like ways to improve your decision making and how to adopt different methodologies.
That’s why BNG has made it. Not because we had it all figured out, but we just kept making adjustments and improving. We’ve worked together regardless of what it took.
Building up others leadership skills is critically important
Growth is unsustainable if I was the only one in charge of decision making.
Don’t believe me?
Look at your end goal, the result you’re striving for. I want to continue to build a company, exceeding a hundred employees or more. But I can’t control every decision that happens if we continue to grow.
Right now we’re a 40 person company, and we could stay small, and I could try and control every person, surround myself with “yes” men who always do as I say. But that doesn’t fit my end goal for our business.
The alternative is building up our company’s leadership team and giving them the support to grow and improve our business.
And that’s hard. In business, grooming leadership means letting them make decisions that don’t always pan out well.
To make leaders, you have to create the right environment to cultivate leadership. And that means letting your leadership team share their ideas without fear of being ignored. Constructive criticism is how you grow and improve, without the right environment this can be detrimental to your company and team’s health.
If we ran our company like a dictatorship, our managers’ opinions and insights would be ignored, and it’d always be my way.
When you make decisions based on the desire to have it be your way, people will resent you and stop coming forward with ideas. Because if you’re not listening, they don’t want to be there. They feel like you don’t care about their thoughts, so they might half-heartedly support your business.
You want to cultivate leaders to be individuals, not robots who agree with everything you say. One of the worst choices you can make is to try and turn everyone into you. Others have valuable talent and insights so don’t smother those out to feed your ego. Otherwise, your company will live or die by one person’s decisions.
All of this comes down to respect and understanding. Sometimes you might have to make a decision others don’t agree with, but you can win them over if you’re willing to be open minded and listen to their objections, and explain the reason for your decision.
People will not always get their way (including yourself), and you need to be open to others ideas and criticisms. Discussion and disagreement make a better end product, and that helps our customers, and we’re all more successful because of it.