Managing Yourself To Better Manage Your Team
I want to be a better leader,” she said with tears in her eyes.
Each of us started with a fire in our hearts to solve a problem, fill a gap or create a change by doing work we love. And then we keep building and all of the sudden our job shifts from doing all the doing involved with that work, to leading and managing a team… when most of us have never done that before.
And with the desire to succeed and be great at what we do, many women at the top feel like they are falling short at their ability to lead. I know, because I’ve been there too.
If your business feels disorganized and chaotic, if you are constantly overwhelmed and feeling like you aren’t leading your team well because of all the recurring issues. You aren’t alone. Being behind the scenes with hundreds of multi-six, 7+ figure founders and CEOs - it’s usually not very pretty when we start. Because with the success of raising revenue and impact comes a whole new set of problems.
The good news is this, you can become a better leader and chances are that if you truly desire to lead your people differently - you are doing a better job than you think. The problems you are experiencing in your business are not always a reflection of your leadership, but also - sometimes they are. So, if you want to be a better leader - let’s dive in to how to make that happen.
Jumping Into The Fire
Oftentimes, leaders who get feedback that things aren’t running smoothly or that people may not be performing well take this news hard, throwing them into a spiral of trying to alleviate the issue as quickly as possible. They jump right into the fire, doubling down with the idea that they are showing up in a new way to better manage the team.
There’s a mass email sent out to the full team, extra meetings are scheduled for all hands on deck, everyone’s getting 1:1s or quarterly performance reviews are magically scheduled for that week.
This makes us feel like we are completely in control, as if we can stop the burning building from burning while we are standing inside of it.
And if it’s not a reactive chain of events that reroutes everyone's schedules, it’s because you’ve chosen to dig in and take on all the tasks that weren’t done correctly or handle the problems yourself instead of trusting your team.
It’s okay, we’ve all been micromanagers before and it's TOUGH to let go of things that when we started were originally ours to do.
This reactivity isn’t good management, and it’s definitely not the way you want to lead. Furthermore, you are setting the tone for your entire team when you react this way, because your energy ripples out indefinitely.
Change Your Perspective
If you’re swimming underwater, you can’t see what’s happening poolside.
The idea that being a good leader means you jump in, boots on the ground, with your team to show them that you are in it with them is great in theory. You’re a team player and you want them to know you care, I get it because I’ve also done this.
You don’t have to adopt every problem as a personal one in order to show your team you care. Your team knows you care by the way you lead them through it.
When you react quickly and jump in to try to take over the problem it puts you underwater, in the burning building, or whichever reference resonates more for you to know that you cannot lead because you are incapacitated.
When you are inside the problem, you can’t create a long-term solution for the problem because you are so focused on the small picture - you forget there’s a bigger one.
If you zoom out, take a step back, or as I tell my clients “Take a beat,” you can gain clarity and see what the real issue is. Because the problems you experience in business are the result of a deeper problem that needs to be solved.
I often say, “How you live is how you lead.” Because I’ve learned that I can’t manage my household or my business well if I am not managing myself well.
Instead of doubling down and jumping into the fire, you need to step back, observe, regulate yourself and gather all the data. As business owners we take things very personally, everything that is done in our business is a reflection of us. And so when problems arise, it feels like someone has taken off one of our limbs or broken our hearts. When the reality is, even with a commitment to excellence, you are human and you are allowed to experience problems. This is why you have to manage yourself before you can manage anyone or anything else. Here’s what this looks like in real-time:
Remove yourself physically from the situation. Leave your desk, your office, get off your phone, wherever the problem was communicated to you - change the environment.
Emotionally regulate. Bring your heart rate down, breathe, take inventory of what you are feeling and validate those emotions.
Communicate to your team that you will be in touch. You don’t have to leave things high and dry - let them know you need a minute/hour/day.
Gather the data. What’s the problem here? Where did it come from? What are you letting it mean about you/the business? How did it happen?
Make a plan. After you have all the pieces and information you need, and you are emotionally regulated, you can make a plan to fix it.
This is a process you can walk through anytime an issue arises and you start to go into panic mode. And it will make you a better leader to your team because when you are communicating it’s not from that frantic state but from a truly grounded place that will be much better received.
Outside of the this process, this is a big reason why prioritizing yourself and your well-being as you continue to scale has to take a front seat. Your team responds to your energy and how you lead, you set the tone for the work culture and while this can be a heavy responsibility it’s also healthy pressure for you to take care of yourself so they do the same.
When you learn to manage yourself before trying to manage everyone else, you respond to situations with calm strength instead of chaotic energy which will create respect, more trust from your team and better long-term success for the business.
If becoming a better leader is on your mind as you are scaling your established service-based business but it’s another thing there’s so much uncertainty around, make sure you are on the waitlist for Female Founders Inner Circle as we spend one of our six months fully developing you as a leader. This is my group program for mom founders, available to women on the waitlist only - check it out here.