StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

An Important Leadership Lesson

The need to effectively manage others becomes increasingly important as our businesses start to blossom, yet it’s often difficult to balance your position as leader, teacher and every other hat you have to wear as an entrepreneur.

Indeed, some business owners consider undertaking an online masters of education in order to feel confident and competent enough to train their staff and lead their team by equipping them with the right knowledge and strategy to go out and deliver, yet this often isn’t necessary.

This article offers two important leadership lessons for small business owners, and encourages you to quickly learn new employees motivational style in order to manage them effectively.


There is of course a fine line between being a leader and being a dictator.  It’s important to remember that whilst you are the leader of the company your role is more that of a director, in that it is directional rather than dictatorial.

Nobody likes being dictated to, and few people actually enjoy or respond well to being directed unless they have complete confidence in your decisions and leadership skills.  It can therefore be a psychological minefield to get this balancing act right.

The best approach is to remember that you are the captain of the ship, and that captain’s unapologetically give orders to their crew.  Now, in a business context, it’s of course much more important to be civil and respectful, than the captain of a ship, but it’s equally important you take the wheel and lead this project to its final destination.


You may have heard of the metaphor with regard to the carrot and the stick which describes the polar forces of motivation theory.

In psychology there are two broad groups of people; they are known as “toward” and “away from” people.  This means that some people prioritise moving toward pleasure whilst others prioritise getting away from pain.  Of course, most people have a mixture of both, but there is normally one predominant force that motivates a person to take action.

The person that is motivated toward pleasure tends to be the more committed and advancement focused employee, whereas the person motivated away from pain, tends to be the type of person that will do what it takes to keep their job and not all that much more.

You want to get to know your team and see what motivates each team member; is it the possibility of praise and reward or is it the fear of loss, such as missing out on a staff incentive or even losing their job?

By applying both of these psychological forces, in your leadership style means you will be able to manage most people effectively.

The carrot could, for instance, be a cash incentive, public recognition, or simply some one-to-one verbal praise for doing a good job.  The stick, meanwhile, could be the fear of dismissal or having a penalty imposed such as having to stay late at the office in order to get things finished.

If you think back to school, there were gold stars (to acknowledge good behaviour) and detentions (to acknowledge bad behaviour).  Some people would be motivated toward getting a gold star whilst others would be motivated by staying out of trouble.  The same remains true in modern business leadership.

Getting On The Right Side Of The Team

A business is more than the brand or the products and services it sells. The business is also the people who make it and the company culture that forms as a result of their interactions, their cooperation or lack thereof. A business owner who gets on the wrong side of their team might still have the power in the relationship, but they can risk the future of the company by failing to use it responsibly.

Build a better environment

The physical workplace is just as much of an asset, too. The value of that asset is in creating a safe, comfortable, and motivating space for you and the team. By focusing too much on cost-effectiveness in designing your space, you can miss out on both the practical and mental needs that it needs to fulfill. Updating the surroundings, improving lighting, creating workspaces that allow for communication, and implementing access for employees with disability all create a much more positive office space.

Lead by example

You want your employees to be good members of the team, but to improve your chances of getting that, you need to be a good team member, too. For instance, you want employees to take responsibility for their successes and failures, so it starts with you. When a project fails, don’t pass the buck because it’s convenient. Similarly, don’t be afraid to hold others accountable without turning it into a public haranguing. By demonstrating the qualities you want to see in your employees, they are more likely to follow suit.

Ensure their concerns are addressed

Things don’t always go well in the workplace. Arguments, harassment and bullying do happen and are concerns you should be mindful of. Create a set of HR standards and practices with the help of lawyers that deal with employment issues. Ensure that your company policies are up to scratch and that your team has channels by which they can safely report toxic behavior in the workplace.

Develop your team

You want more than just a labor force. You want people who are willing to invest energy, thought, and creativity into the business. But if you’re not investing in them, why should they return the favor? The easiest way to invest in your team is to help develop them. Give them opportunities to try new responsibilities, offer training for them, and even consider setting up a mentorship program within the business.

Encourage and accept feedback

Just like you must be able to accept reports on harassment and other unacceptable behavior, you should be willing to accept feedback from the team, as well. Create feedback loops that allow employees to share their criticism of processes and standards, not just team members or personal interactions. You can encourage it by setting specific agendas for the team meeting taking a closer look at different aspects of the business.

Your people are your most valuable asset when used right and to use them right, you have to treat them right. Create a positive workplace culture and watch as motivation, engagement, and productivity soar.

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures Article

Top Traits of Socially Responsible Employers

When talented workers are looking for new employment opportunities, they tend to go for the companies that have a proven track record of being socially responsible. If you start to demonstrate that you fit the bill, you should soon have a big pool of excellent employees to choose from. Beyond this, treating your staff members right will result in a team who are highly motivated and more likely to stick by your business. So, here are just a few top traits of socially responsible employers which you can look to emulate.

Encouraging Work/Life Balance

The all-important work/life balance is something which is talked about more and more these days. There are many ways that you can encourage this as an employer. Firstly, you could look into the option of offering flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home. As well as this, you could also offer a competitive number of holidays or even a scheme like giving employees important days like their birthday off from work.

Implementing Employment Standards

Employment laws are changing all the time and you need to ensure that you implement these at all times. You could consult with a legal team such as Ogletree to keep yourself abreast of all your individual responsibilities as an employer. If you don’t implement certain standards, there is every chance that you could get called out on this and in today’s world of social media and instant communication, any reputation as a poor employer will spread quickly.

Establishing Standards of Integrity

As an employer, it is your responsibility to implement certain standards of integrity and ethical behaviour. Not only do you have to come up with these in the first place, you also need to communicate these with your staff members to ensure that they know what is expected of them.

Recognising Achievement and Success

It is very easy for employees to feel overlooked if you don’t recognise their achievements and success. So, you should take the time to do this on a regular basis, whether it is in front of your company as a whole or simply on a one on one basis. When your company starts to grow, it may be difficult to do this as often as you would like, so you need to ensure that your managers are in the habit of talking up your team.

Caring About Health

There are plenty of ways that you can show that you care about the health and wellbeing of your employees. It could be something as simple as offering fresh fruit to eat on a regular basis. Alternatively, you could offer a discounted membership to your local gym or even hire a fitness expert to come in and give classes to your employees.

Social responsibility is one of the greatest traits that you can have as an employer, and these are just a few of the ways that you can achieve this.

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures Article

Encourage Your Employees to Be Their Authentic Selves – And Improve Workplace Morale

Often people attempt to conceal their personalities at work. This might mean concealing their interests or their passions, but sometimes it goes even deeper. Occasionally, people try and change their accents, or hide their sexual orientation.

Sometimes, employees are concerned that their authentic selves will mark them out as too ‘different’ or ‘quirky’ or ‘airy fairy’ to succeed in the workplace. However, this means that they might be selling themselves short – and in the process, holding back your business.

More Authentic Personalities = Better Business People

People who feel more comfortable in themselves often have greater confidence in their own ability to get the job done. They can be resourceful and quick thinkers who are able to solve problems – because they feel empowered enough to do so. These kinds of individuals are only an asset to a business.

Individuals who are in a role that involves facing clients or closing deals should always present their authentic selves to sell well. Most people can detect fakery and avoid those people, choosing not to spend time with them and trust them in a business relationship.

Fostering an atmosphere of inauthenticity will only impact negatively upon your business. Your staff won’t be happy, productive staff – the kind that are so important to getting a job done well.

Encourage Your Staff to Be Themselves

There are many ways you can encourage your staff to be more authentic in the work place. Mostly it starts by allowing an environment where people feel empowered enough to be their authentic persons, while still being respectful.

It’s mostly about fostering trust between management and colleagues and allowing personalities to shine.

Here are our top tips on how to encourage your staff to be themselves.

1. Get to Know Them

Make sure that you devote some time to each individual member of your staff at least once a month. Ask them what their ambitions are and how they want to get there.

Frequent performance reviews create an environment of trust, so staff feel more empowered to give you honest feedback – something which will only be beneficial for the company.

2. Offer the Training They Want

Staff feel happier and more fulfilled – two elements which are crucial for authentic living – when they feel they’re moving into the future with skills.

If you have ambitious staff, offering them distinct training opportunities to foster their goals and talents. This will help them feel more confident and empowered in the workplace.

3. Don’t Enforce a Strict Corporate Dress Code

You might find a couple of Patrick Bateman weirdos who love wearing a full suit every day, but most modern men and women don’t. Let your employees express their personality in their clothes without judgement.

Most people won’t turn up to the office in sweatpants even if your dress code is more relaxed. People also pick up visual cues off leaders in their environment – if most people dress smart every day, they’ll dress well too.

4. Allow Employees to Personalize Their Workspace

Make sure people feel comfortable personalizing their space in their office. Allowing people to bring in photos of their friends and family, or adding a plant really makes the space more comfortable for them.

If employees have a work phone, let them choose the best phone case for them.

5. Hold Team Idea Meetings

Don’t wait for employees to come to you with ideas. You may never know but there could just be an idea that’s about to revolutionize your company and increase your profit margins in the head of someone sat down in a cubicle in your office.

Foster an environment where people feel comfortable enough to throw out ideas, to help people grow in confidence as they know their opinions are valued.

6. Encourage Structured Growth

To really get the best out of the people you work with, make a plan for each individual’s development. Make sure everyone has a set time each week to do their training or develop their passion projects, for the benefit of the business.

Remember: happier staff can only mean better things for your business.

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article

Top Ways to Retain Employees

StrategyDriven Talent Management ArticleWhether you’re the manager of your department or the CEO of a company, it’s so important to make sure you retain the attention and engagement of your employees. When your employees go through the hiring process, they’ve proven themselves to be the best men and women for the jobs your company offers. In order for the company to do well, there needs to be a level of continuity and consistency in the workflow. One of the best ways to make sure this happens is through retaining top talent. There are a few strategies to implement in order to make sure your company holds on to its best employees and attracts more awesome and talented employees in the future.

1. Mentorship
Partner new team members with more experienced employees. It’s so important to foster an environment of mentorship. The experienced employees can teach the newer ones the ropes of the company. There’s also a level of openness regarding how to improve and facilitate a better workflow. When the company implements a mentorship system within the workplace, it takes away the vibes of competition and backbiting. Everyone is in the room with the same goal: to make the company more money and win. When everyone is on one accord, the results can be truly divine.

2. Ownership
Take note of the strengths of your employees. If they’re not already exercising them in some way, give them opportunities to thrive. Sure, there is a level of initiative employees need to take. However, as the leader, it’s important for you to make it clear that you’re open to your employees taking on new roles, growing and improving company strategies. There are many employees that have lots of ideas, but have bosses with large egos. Don’t let ego get in the way of an employee’s ability to offer more to the company.

3. Gold Stars/Incentives
Money is a major motivator, but it’s not the only one. Bonuses are amazing for helping employees stick around. An upgrade to the company benefits package, weekly lunches and telecommuting are a few of the tricks to get good employees to stick around. If the work environment is conducive to their personal and professional happiness in a very tangible way, it’ll be hard to get them to leave.

4. Accountability
It can be really detrimental to a company when an employee decides to quit abruptly. If they’re a major part of the team, their presence is essential. Design an environment where members of the team are able to check in with one another and remain accountable to each other. This will foster a level of transparency. If a person is deeply unhappy in their work, that’ll come across when they interact with other employees. Keeping one another accountable will help the company become stronger as they’ve been bonded together.

These are a few of the best ways to make sure your company holds on to the best of the best. As you progress and tweak the process, keep an ear to the ground. You’ll want feedback to learn how you can improve as the head of the team. As you gain advice, listen to it and implement the most effective practices. A company doesn’t become a well-oiled machine overnight. In many cases, it takes years of mistakes and fine-tuning. Lean in and embrace the process because the company will be better as a result of it.