As many leaders in the staffing industry are aware, recruiting and staffing is a production business. As a leader in your firm, your challenge will always be to hold people accountable for results without beating them up. While you don’t want to be a pushover, you also don’t want your team to see you as a Jekyll-Hyde personality – someone they learn to walk on eggshells around and eventually leave for another job.
Holding people accountable while being a tough and likeable leader is a happy balance that few achieve. However, in consulting through the years with owners and executives of various staffing companies, I’ve noticed some distinct commonalities. Fortunately, if you think you’re an off-balance leader, just a few tweaks can help to swing the pendulum toward the center.
Here are three observed behaviors many “balanced” bosses have figured out and how you can too:
- They overcommunicate. This starts with sharing financial results with everyone on the team on a weekly basis. If business is good, praise your employees for a great week. If it was bad, don’t sugarcoat it, but don’t communicate it as catastrophic either. State the facts, then convey the specific behavioral adjustments that everyone (including you) needs to make. If people sense business is bad but have a limited concept of just how bad, there’s bound to be a a lot of hand-wringing, whispering, and job board surfing that goes on. A culture of negativity will then begin to invade your organization, creating an imbalance that is tough to restore.
- They don’t live in an ivory tower. Balanced leaders descend into the trenches regularly. Yes, you may have earned the right to step back and work “on” your business instead of “in” it. But if you only surface when things are bad, your staff will take notice. If business has stalled, talk to your team to better understand what’s hindering their success, and initiate necessary changes. Otherwise, they’ll see you as the parent who’s quick to scold but never coaches or praises in a meaningful way. Be the visionary leader who speaks strategically about the future, while staying involved in the day-to-day workings of your firm.
- They know where they’re imbalanced. Balanced leaders know what they’re good at and when to outsource certain tasks and activities. If you’re a back-office kind of person who lacks the knowledge or desire to drive sales, consider hiring a strong sales leader or engaging a trainer or coach to support your team’s success. If you’re a selling machine, you can leverage that strength while also surrounding yourself with strong accountants, financial advisors, attorneys and other specialists to assist in managing back-of-house operations.
As reflected by all three practices above, the balanced boss strategically works to maintain balanced behaviors because she knows people are happiest and most productive when it exists. Simply put, balanced leadership is good for business.