All leadership roles present their challenges, regardless of the industry. Luckily, nowadays there are many avenues to learn how to combat these challenges, from attending online leadership seminars to speaking with other entrepreneurs educating through their struggles and resolutions via various forms of media. Here are some obstacles I encountered and how I overcame them:
A Lack of Constant Feedback
We all seek feedback — it’s a basic requirement of all humans, from a toddler asking his parents for something, to a team leader asking the CEO about the company’s latest business plans.
Try offering more feedback to your executive team. As well, ask them for feedback on your leadership, which will help your company tie up many of the proverbial loose ends. I realized the importance of this when I hired a digital marketing firm to help out with building my company’s online presence. I was immediately bombarded with loads of feedback regarding my website’s SEO and how different the business was perceived in other places around the world. This made me think about my own internal feedback strategy and how feedback should go both ways.
Being Too Hands-Off or Micromanaging
Yes, team leaders need to give and receive constant feedback, but it’s their actions that can make or break a leader. Most are either too hands-off, and others micromanage too much. The solution is to find the perfect blend.
Being too hands-off can cause confusion, especially if that leader chooses to go his or her own way. This situation may cause some static in the overall business plan. You may think that micromanaging may help keep your idea in focus, but sometimes it needs altering by people you trust. Listen to them, and allow them to also offer their ideas and opinions.
Personally, I’ve leaned towards being too hands-off, but that blocked some proposed solutions to a few ideas within our overall business plan. When I stepped in, I didn’t micromanage — I simply offered solutions that a few team leaders and I agreed upon as being the correct direction. Listen and take criticism, but always be the leader.
Not Defining Goals
This is huge, especially as a business scales and additional departments are added. Always define the goals for your short- and long-term plans. Each team will have different sets of goals — just make sure they are well defined.
As part of my company’s weekly business meetings with team leaders, the discussion involves defined goals, both short- and long-term. Make these a part of every discussion going forward.
A Lack of Training and Development
This one is simple, but grossly overlooked in many businesses — even some of the largest in the world. A lack of training makes things stale, and dissolves development. Whether it’s daily reading or the ever-popular webinar teaching new sets of skills, make this part of your duty for your leadership positions.
Besides having my team leaders study the trends and giants of the travel industry, I also make sure there is monthly training around the latest strategies and developments within their division of the company, from sales to marketing trends. This has helped us further develop our core offerings, helping the long-term goal of easy travel in Africa.
Poor Time Management Skills
I left the big one for last: Time management is the underlying roots to success of any company, in both your professional and personal lives. Learn it, live it and teach it.
Entrepreneurs need time management on their side to be truly successful, and this should be taught to everyone within your company, from interns to CFOs. Assessing your time management not only helps get your day-to-day duties in order, but it helps in your personal life: Every successful entrepreneur knows that a happy work life means a happy home life, and vice versa.
When the tactics became overbearing during the startup stages of my company, I began my studies in time management. I participated in a few seminars and read a few books on the subject, and was able to translate those takeaways into my daily work schedule. Only then did daunting tasks appear more feasible, which helped relieve much stress from the daily grind and help me focus on overall strategy. I also educated my executive leadership teams and asked them to do the same with their employees.
Regardless of your rank in a company, from manager to director or CEO, leadership challenges will surface. The best way towards resolution is a constant flow of education and learning from other people’s mistakes and successes. These five lessons address some of the most common challenges, which when dissolved, can help your company get to that next level — the one we all seek.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.