I am embarrassed to admit this. As a proud, independent and strong female entrepreneur, I was a whiner.
When things got busy in my business, I felt like I was juggling pins of fire while walking across a balance beam.
When I thought that no one on my team really understood the time or the pressure it took to maintain contracts, staffing, financial reviews and all the emails I would start to whine like a toddler who couldn’t have a cookie before bed.
I was telling myself that my team just didn’t get it and that they probably thought I sat around all day counting my money going for business lunches and attending charity events. I felt justified in explaining ALL the things I did for the business and the roles I held outside as well.
Bleccght…. I truly didn’t want to write this but I’ve noticed that when I have these types of regrets and shame it often means I am not alone. We have heard about vulnerability in leadership and now I know a little more. If you are in this arena, battling with me, trying to make something good in the world while trying not to be an ass, keep reading. If you have it all together, manage boundaries like a rockstar and and never overshare…great job. The rest probably isn’t for you.
Hard truths I needed to hear (and maybe you do too)
- Don’t whine. If you feel the need to give a dramatic speech about all you do, all the tasks you complete, all the demands on your time to your team, you need to stop. If you are telling everyone about your late nights or how you didn’t get a break over the weekend because you were working, they likely don’t care. This is your business and it is up to you to manage your time better not theirs.
- You do have a lot on your plate and there are so many moving parts to a business it can make your head spin. But your team members are not the ones who should be hearing it. When a leader complains they are overwhelmed, it can create an image that you don’t have time to deal with concerns or ideas. It can make others feel they aren’t doing enough. The worst case is when this all leads to the perception that leadership isn’t competent or able to handle their role. Uncertainty and a lack of trust can be catastrophic for a business.
- All positions in your business should have a description of responsibilities, including yours. I often see companies with job descriptions for all positions other than their own. Sometimes, this means that the owner does everything that no one else does. It can also mean that the owner holds roles and responsibilities that others on the team may not be aware of.
- Be overt about the responsibilities of each position. This reduces confusion. Your team then knows what you are expecting them to take on, you know what you are responsible for and where there may be gaps. These outlines can act as a great foundation when you are looking to grow or when positions need to be adjusted.
- Develop a group of people that you can talk about the challenges you face and who can be of value in these conversations. It is important to have a place where you can bring all of your dreams, fears, frustrations and thoughts. Especially as a single owner, you need a safe sounding board. This could be a business colleague, a formal paid group or a coach (BONUS tip: your spouse does want to be this person all the time either.)
I share these truths gently but honestly. I faced each one of them head on and had to accept that I was creating many of the issues I was complaining about. This journey is not for the faint of heart. There are many people who do get it and will support you. Just don’t be too proud to ask.
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