Meeting of the manager with the team
Being proactive as a leader is one of the best things you can do for your team. The more executives can stay up to date with their team, their company and their competitors, the better they can help their employees plan and implement new strategies. Passive leadership doesn’t generate the productivity and development your business needs to grow and thrive.
When I talk about proactive leadership, I like to divide it into two categories: internal and external. Stay proactive in both areas and you can run your business further than you thought possible.
Internal proactive leadership
Internal leadership, of course, corresponds to everything that’s going on in your organization. There are three key components to proactive internal leadership, all of which are interconnected.
Building trust in an organization starts at the top. If a leader doesn’t consistently show confidence in their employees, how can that person expect them to be trustworthy in return? Be proactive with your approach to developing a culture of trust in your own company.
First, assume the trustworthiness and good intentions of each individual team member – at least until one person proves otherwise. Hasty assumptions and pointers quickly dissolve the trust you have placed in your team. Develop feedback mechanisms that give you the perspective you need to clearly address each situation.
There is another practice that can seriously undermine the trust between you and your team: micromanagement. When you micromanage your employees, even if you are just trying to help, your employees will conclude that you don’t trust them to get their job done. Replace micromanagement with a culture of autonomy and take the necessary steps to empower your team members to take responsibility for their work.
Trust goes hand in hand with respect. The way most people are built, one must first show respect before one can ever fully win another person’s trust.
Respect your team’s time by being clear and efficient in communicating deadlines and expectations. Respect their needs by offering benefits such as insurance coverage and flexible time off for family events that you can’t miss. These are the types of actions that show respect. Your employees will return the favor with commitment and loyalty to the organization.
Respect, in turn, depends on each team member pulling their own weight. One-on-one discussions with your employees enable you to deepen both their performance and your leadership skills. Prepare written notes about performance changes in each of your team members – positive or negative – and share them openly in your meeting. Your one-on-one meetings must provide clear goals and a framework for changes that are required, and allow each employee to realize their potential.
Keeping an eye on key performance metrics for your entire team will provide meaningful feedback. For example, if you know that your sales team is struggling to generate leads, you can work on them specifically. Unless you delve into specific topics, your leadership efforts are little more than a shot in the dark.
External proactive leadership
There are always external forces at play that affect the health of your company. How you navigate the storms in your business will determine whether you will make it or start to decline. Any sailor can tell you that passive sailing won’t get you where you want to go.
Keep an eye on the sales of your company over several years and note any deviations that your team can expect at different times of the year. These insights can help team members take action to prevent a slow sales season. By sharing the knowledge you’ve acquired during your years as the leader of the organization, employees don’t have to learn the hard way.
For example, suppose your historical data shows that your sales figures tend to decline over the winter. What can you do to proactively run your business during these months? You can host an annual office sales contest or try a new lead generation strategy to counter an otherwise slow time of year.
Effective leaders should be aware of the industry trends that affect their business, regardless of their internal efforts. You can’t expect all of your reps to stay up to date on every Forbes article that deals with your company’s niche or any new strategies being implemented by your competitors. This is your job. With your connections and experience, you must take the lead to benefit from changing business trends.
My friend and business partner, John Rampton, is a great example to me when it comes to identifying business trends. He specializes in search engine optimization, something I’m not very familiar with. Rampton is a fantastic way of keeping me and my team up to date on new developments in the SEO world so we can implement changes more effectively.
Be on the lookout for new opportunities like conferences and lectures to look for potential leads. As the face of your company, your outreach efforts are likely to have a much bigger impact than those of your employees. It is your responsibility to run the brand and empower your team to grow.
Let’s say you’re invited to an exclusive conference where you chat with the makers of your industry. Take the opportunity to get in touch with these people, who are usually the decision makers for their respective companies. A quick chat between you and a new contact can set up reps on either end to get some B2B sales off the ground in less time.
What changes do you need to make to lead more proactively? First, find ways to be more attentive, receptive, and open-minded in leading your team. If you’re proactive, you’ll find solutions before they’re badly needed and innovate without missing a beat in your business.