Establishing Business Methods in Your Small Business

As a leader you are defined not only by how you see yourself, but by how those you lead see you. Business owners wear many hats, and it's easy to forget that your leadership hat is always on! The belief that someone is always watching you isn't paranoia, it's reality-and embracing that reality is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your team and your organization.

I once worked at a restaurant for a man who could not understand this, and his behavior affected everyone who worked for him. He asked us to provide great service to his customers, yet treated us poorly. He lied to us and to his vendors, treated the kitchen staff disrespectfully, and was mean and stingy to the waitstaff. I don't believe he understood that his lack of consideration and integrity set the model for all of his employees and for operations in general. He was our boss, and his leadership-however poor-communicated to us what was important to him, as well as what was not. He made it clear that his staff was not important. People responded to his mistrust by becoming untrustworthy. By acting as if we were all trying to steal from him, he made his staff feel justified in doing so, from eating food we weren't allowed to eat to outright theft.

I'd like to tell you that this was a singular experience, but I could add at least two or three others to my list of employers who set a tone in their businesses that fostered ill will. That kind of ill will spreads like wildfire through the staff and right to the customers. Nothing makes a customer more uncomfortable, and less likely to return than seeing you reprimand a staff member (especially one they like) in front of them. If you are not treating your employees fairly, they will convey that to customers either directly or indirectly, and repeatedly.

Whether you like it or not, your team is watching you to see what matters to you. They are taking their cues from you, so it is critical that you make sure you are behaving in ways that support your words. If you tell your people that you care what they think or that they are important to you, but don't take feedback or suggestions, properly maintain their equipment, or take time to appreciate their efforts on your behalf, you are lying to them- and they will know it. They will not support your stated mission if they don't see you modeling it.

• Is it time for you to turn over a new leaf with your team?

• Do you need to reconnect with your stated mission?

• Can you use some help honing your leadership skills?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, let's talk! I can help you be the leader you dream of being.

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