Fans of The Office will recall some of Michel Scott’s (played by the legendary Steve Carell) quotes from his time as a Regional Manager at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company:
“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”
“I knew exactly what to do. But, in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do.”
“Make friends first, make sales second, make love third. In no particular order.”
“You have to play to win. But you also have to win to play.”
“I swore to myself that if I ever got to walk around the room as manager, people would laugh when they saw me coming, and would applaud as I walked away.”
While goofy, awkward and hilarious, Michel Scott was not a great leader. He was a child in a suit that ran around the office causing drama, complicating the simple things and oversimplifying the complicated things. He lived his life in platitudes, usually misquoting them along the way.
It’s my goal, with this post, to help you from becoming a Michael Scott. There’s a lot of free advice for small business owners plastered on the internet, but these key ingredients will help you become a strong leader, propelling your company on the path to entrepreneurial success.
1.Workplace Romance is a Motivation Killer for Your Team
There are few things worse than dating a subordinate. It puts pressure on both you and the target of your affections. Co-workers will feel that your partner receives preferential treatment. And, in your effort to protect your partner from those sentiments, you may overplay your hand; mistreating your significant other in the office.
It’s nearly impossible to have a relationship with a subordinate without putting a serious dent in morale, creating a distraction that hurts productivity.
2.Lead from the Trenches, not from a Command Post Miles Away
Figuratively speaking, the second worst thing you can do to hurt the productivity of your team is add boundaries between yourself and the work being done; these barriers could be additional levels of unnecessary bureaucracy, or a general attitude that you’re above the work your team is doing.
You are a leader, not a dictator. You, and only you can get a full sense of the struggles and challenges your team is facing by being present, attentive and engaged. For example, if your team is having difficulty completing an inventory of your warehouse while still servicing customers, it’s your job to jump in and help relieve the pressure. Help with the inventory, service customers, or both.
A team will only run as fast as its leader, unless that leader is running quickly away from the hard-work of servicing customers and winning market-share.
Carefully consider the small business advice you receive, especially if it revolves around adding barriers between you and your team. Unnecessary corporate structures are toxic to small startups. It’s all hands on deck. You have to keep your wick out of the company ink and fight shoulder to shoulder with your team to pry away customers from the competition.