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Being a Boss vs. Being a Leader

One of the toughest challenges of being an entrepreneur is being challenged by those working with you. This can be a direct blow to your ego, and more so, to your success as the leader of your team. When you’re challenged at a pivotal time, or over a key part of a project, it may be hard to see the forest through the trees and accept the constructive feedback that often accompanies criticism. The best teams are recruited and developed to enhance one another’s strengths, and cover areas of weakness.

Throughout your lifetime as an entrepreneur, there will be moments where an employee or partner will not see the path to success exactly the same way as you do. This is a moment for you to step up, put your ego aside, and to listen to what they have to say. At worst, you may spend additional time defending and reviewing your idea. At best, you stave off disaster if your dissenting staff member highlights an overlooked budget figure, or issue with your strategic plan. This not only saves you at a key moment, but allows you to gain more confidence in your team, and if the situation is handled well, allows your team to trust you to facilitate dissenting opinions.

Everyone has different skills that has prepared them for their role in your organization.

These diverse backgrounds allow for healthy debate and multiple perspectives through which a problem can be solved, or an idea can be constructed.  If you can allow your team to feel confident in bringing forward their opinions and disagreements in a healthy, respectful way, this will foster a relationship of mutual trust. In turn, this mutual trust allows for all ideas to be shared and challenged, and for the best ones to rise to the surface.  If facilitated positively and encouraged consistently, this atmosphere of openness allows for your company to operate in a more effective manner, allows your employees and partners to feel more respected and valued, and allows you to have a firmer trust that you are paying your employees for those diverse skill sets that they can bring to the table.

In addition to building this atmosphere, ensure that you have built a team that can engage in healthy debate.  Ensure that your employees have room and time to speak their mind. Furthermore, ensure your employees feel comfortable in knowing that they can express their honest opinions professionally, without negative consequences. Finally, ensure that the employees you have hired are experts in what they do, and share the vision for the goal or job that you are trying to accomplish.  Remember, if you trust your employees, you will know that listening to them is not a waste of time, but rather an opportunity for you to grow as a leader.

Learn to put your ego aside and actually listen to your employees.

Having a culture of healthy debate throughout your organization is a sign of having a strong team, as long as the debates are constructive and facilitated by a set of group-created norms. So, learn to put your ego aside and actually listen to your employees.  Even if you do not end up agreeing with them at this moment, remember that there will be times in the future that you will, or should have, and it is important to allow them to be wrong, so that they can be right in the future.

Looking for a motivational speaker or business coach here in Calgary? Koleya Karringten is a local gal with a successful track record of entrepreneurial experience. She has a particular interest in helping women in tech reach their dreams and entrepreneurial goals. And she hopes to build a community of innovation and technology adoption.