Five Things I Have Learned About Leading a Team

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One of the things I enjoy about working in my New York studio is having the varied interactions with different members of my staff. Each and every person on my team brings forth their own unique vision, values, talents, and concerns. I always say that one of the main things I look for in a new employee is whether or not I can learn something from them, and over the years, all of my employees have taught me a great deal about a number of subjects, including leadership itself. Today, I would like to share a few of the lessons I have learned (again, through trial-and-error).

Transparency Is Key: I often speak about the importance of transparency in pricing on my blog, but I truly believe that being clear about situations, opportunities, concerns, and potential setbacks is a great way to overcome challenges and also an excellent way to build trust with your team. It also helps to avoid having people fill in the blanks out of fear which can create an atmosphere of anxiety and gossip.

Keep an Open Forum: As a business owner, it is my job to make the decisions that I feel are synergistic with my values, vision, and brand. There are times when that requires an emphatic “no” or “yes”, but more often than not, my team will hear, “I am not sold on the idea, but I am open to discussing it more.” Experience has shown me that it is important to really listen to those who have an idea that they want to discuss, not only to show them that I value their input (and I do) but also because the exchange of information (in a real conversation, not in print) is the best way to clarify points and find the best possible course of action for the business and team as a whole.

Show Your Human Side: Having gone from a man who was in desperate need of a job to working on events, which I never could have imagined I’d have the chance to design, I have seen quite a number of personalities and perspectives. One thing I can never understand is how some people allow their good fortune to disconnect them from the real world. Though some may disagree with my sharing my mistakes and vulnerabilities, I believe it’s essential because the reality is that we are all human beings, regardless of who we are or what we do. We all have insecurities, fears, worries, and concerns and I do my best to allow a safe space for my staff and clients to do the same without judgement. I have found that this helps to create a supportive and transparent environment. When we don’t know the causes of certain behaviors, it is easy to assign reasons. I prefer to share truths.

Be Kind: Pretty self explanatory, but a smile, a “How are you,” and a “Can I help with that?” can turn someone’s day around (and the environment as a whole) in record time.

Finally, Lift Your Team To Help Them Rise To The Challenge: We work in a busy industry that is deeply rewarding, slightly chaotic, and often includes days so full that concerns about missed items on a task list are often the focal point of texts, emails, and phone calls. I don’t always have time to tell every person on my team when they have done a good job each day, but I do my best to let them know that I appreciate their hard work and ask what I can do to help them achieve new goals that may initially seem a bit overwhelming. I expect the same from them. That’s what teamwork is, isn’t it?

I would love to know your thoughts on leadership and what you feel makes a good employer and a bad one.
(Photo Courtesy of Mark Olich)
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