How To Lead Your Team While Growing Your Business

Published on 07 November 2019

Phil Martin and Elize Hattin sitting on a black couch

Leadership is the foundation to the success of any business, but how do you navigate and learn leadership skills, while taking care of a growing team, and your growing business? In a recent Hub Live, Elize Hattin, SmartHub Business Manager sat down with Phil Martin, Turbo-Traction Lab’s local resident tech expert and CEO of software company Bitplex, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of leading a team to business success.

Phil Martin is a software entrepreneur, and his business Bitplex has been operating for 5.5 years.  Phil credits his team with the success of Bitplex, showcasing the hallmark of a great leader, by giving credit to his team where credit is due. Mastering leadership takes time, but you can start learning now.

LEADERSHIP IS PART OF A LARGER BUSINESS SYSTEM

Being successful in business means adopting best practice and technology, growing profit and your business and becoming more efficient, but without good leadership your ship is sunk.

No matter how great all of the other components of your business are, your business will never outgrow your ability to lead.  And the need for leadership grows as your business grows.

So, what makes a great leader?

5 KEY VALUES FOR LEADERSHIP

  1. Communication – A great leader is a great communicator, direct and clear, no agenda, no games.  People like to know where they stand, and employees like to know what you expect of the them, so they can get their job done, free from additional stress.
  2. Empathy – Caring about people, your customers and your staff is the cornerstone of effective and productive management.  When people feel like you care about them, they will bring passion and loyalty to their roles.
  3. Active listening – Listening to your team helps to understand where problems might be arising before they become major issues, and it helps you to operate in an agile manner allowing you to tweak the course of your business as you go along. 
  4. Support – Leadership and management are largely a supporting role in business, and as a leader you are there to help your team to do what they do best.
  5. Vision – A leadership vision is useful to hone in on what is most important, what you hope to accomplish and what kind of leader you want to be.

Do you see yourself in that list?  Are there some key points you need to work on?  Leadership is a work in progress for all of us, and it’s all well and good to know the values of a great leader, but what do you actually have to do to make that happen?

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR LEADERSHIP VISION

To develop your leadership vision you need to understand your own personal values and the goals you have for your business.  All of this needs to be taken into account when creating your leadership vision, along with what you want your team to ultimately take away by having worked with you. Developing a leadership vision will help to define your purpose as a leader and keep you accountable in that role. Basically, your vision is your legacy, so it is definitely worth putting the time in to develop a plan on how you want to move forward with your team.

Now you have your vision, what’s next?

HOW DOES AN EFFECTIVE LEADER ACTUALLY LEAD?

Effective leaders understand that leadership is never “done”. Your leadership skills must continue to grow as your role and your business grows.  Furthermore, when you are managing a team of people, no matter how small, a leadership process is the backbone of your business.

Your staff need to be empowered by you, to do the job they were hired to do. Phil points out that your team members may have more knowledge than you in a particular area, so it is more effective to support them in fulfilling their capabilities and removing any roadblocks that may stand in their way. 

Micro-management and ineffective communication will eventually cause resentment within your team, so please be aware of this bad leadership habit sneaking into your working life and affecting your team. A strong effective leader doesn’t procrastinate.  They work on building their personal confidence, so that they can tackle problems as they arise. 

Don’t be fooled, leaders are not born, this gig takes work.  You will be held in good stead if you see leadership as an ongoing learning process for the entirety of your career, as there will always be different goals, different personalities and different challenges for you to overcome during the course of your leadership journey. Take the time to understand each person in your team, their strengths and weaknesses, their personal values and the direction they see themselves taking.  Every piece of information that you actively take on board, is another step toward being a better more effective leader and also assists in goal and KPI setting for your teams and your business.

Furthermore, as a baseline requirement, a good leader is super organised, always armed with contingencies and ready for any eventuality that may arise – or at least they have a system to handle it. What’s another great way to be ready for whatever may come?  Asking questions, lot’s of them…

THE BEST QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEAM TO START MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

If you feel like you’re getting off track with your team and your business direction, Phil says that regular strategy meetings are really helpful.  Within those meetings or at anytime that works for you, it’s good to keep asking questions to continually define and redefine where you are headed.  You definitely need to be checking in with your team members to make sure they feel like they are on-course and confident in the direction the business is going.

Phil loves these questions to get realigned as a leader:

  • What have I missed?
  • What do you think we should do next?
  • Can you see any major problems with that?
  • Where are we going as a business?
  • Who are our ideal customers?
  • How can we serve them best?

It is so important to set the direction of your business by engaging your team, asking questions and linking your leadership style to the entire process.

Piece of cake right?  Maybe not… Leadership is a challenging process, but also completely rewarding. 

Phil points out that as a leader you will always be juggling competing priorities - between individuals, teams, your customers and the business, but this does give you the opportunity to get really good at building solid relationships, and you also get a lot of practise at regaining your focus at intervals along the way.  These are all amazing skills that you build while learning to be a good leader, and when you get it right, the personal satisfaction makes the obstacles totally worth it.

If you’re still not sure exactly how to approach your leadership aspirations or if you are keen to keep learning on the way, there are plenty of resources out there…

LEADERSHIP RESOURCES

Great leaders read everything on the matter that they can get their hands on.  You can also devour free online content via YouTube or Facebook to get across the most cutting edge information on leadership skills and styles. Being an active business networker will also bring exposure to other leaders, and in that space you can listen and learn from the good and the bad stories that are told. You can also engage a leadership mentor, someone within your organisation or outside of it, who has walked this path in a way that you admire. 

However, you choose to expand your leadership experience, make sure that you put aside some time at least every fortnight to focus on your own development, because your team and your business can only grow if your leadership grows.

FINALLY

Leadership is super important. In fact, the rest of the systems in business marketing, sales, delivery, financials, your team, and your business direction, all sit on top of this foundation called leadership.  As a leader you will work hard, you will lead your team through many challenges, and with the right dedication, your team may just take you all the way!

BUSINESS SYSTEMS FOR LOCAL BUSINESS

If you would like to learn more about Phil Martin, just search for his business Bitplex on Facebook or via Google.

SmartHub encourage the local business community to adopt best practice and technology, grow their business and their profit, and assist business to become more efficient. If you would like to learn more about the mentors and support available to help your business grow, you can get in touch with the SmartHub via Facebook, by emailing smarthub@rrc.qld.gov.au or by visiting the SmartHub in Customs House at 208 Quay St, Rockhampton.