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  • Donna Lim

Never Wish It Were Easier, Wish You Were Better: Share Your Dream With A Team

Note from Larissa For Donna... Building our dream business is all about chasing our dreams. But at some point we will likely hit an upper limit on how many clients we can take on by ourselves. At that point we must become a leader to a team rather than a leader to just ourselves. However, creating a team that we can invest resources into and trust is perhaps the most challenging aspect of improving our businesses. In his book Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, John Maxwell provides us a few fundamental questions we must ask to overcome that challenge.

In my last article, I elaborated on the questions Maxwell said we needed to ask ourselves to become our own leaders and lead our businesses. Now that we are past those questions, the next series of questions revolves around who we should have as teammates, colleagues, and clients. Maxwell says, "I have always handpicked the people I invest in." Invest in is such a key phrase because when we choose people that can affect the dreams we are chasing, we need to be certain that they are adding value to that dream. However, because we don’t live in a vacuum, we have to be vigilant to not detract value from their goals and dreams. While a book can’t help us navigate every business decision, Maxwell does provide us with guiding questions we can ask ourselves to help determine who we invest in.

When we are deciding which team members we should invest in, Maxwell tells us to consider these factors:

  • Capacity

  • Attitude

  • Compatibility

  • The 10 Percent Factor

The premise of the capacity factor is that people can inherently handle so much work. For us, our business is our dream, and we never stop burning the candle at both ends. For our team members, however, burning the candle at both ends will cause fatigue, which leads to errors and sometimes discontent. It’s important for us to invest in the people that have a high capacity for responsibility because they add value to us through their dependability. The attitude factor deals with a person’s emotional compatibility with us, their teammates, and their work. As we all know, anyone trying to cause discord in a team will ultimately poison our business, and that must be corrected. However, Maxwell asks us to consider subtler signs that someone doesn’t have the right attitude.

Imagine the following scenario: You have a team member who has been with you for 7 years and knows your business inside and out, and you want to make them a supervisor. You need them to have a higher education to handle that task, so you ask them to take a few courses on leadership at the company’s expense. The employee in question refuses to take on that additional education. You also have a team member who has been around for 2 years but enthusiastically follows any request you have for them to increase their skills. Maxwell would recommend that you invest your resources in the younger member.

Compatibility in this case is a combination of morals, character, and chemistry. Effectively, we shouldn’t invest in someone who is incongrous with our team’s dynamic, or would subtract value from us through immoral actions. For example, if someone had a team member who swindled their clients, they would quickly gain a reputation that would ward off future clients. Finally, while some team members might display all of these characteristics, they need to be in the top 10% of the team. If given the choice to invest in the top earner of a company, or someone who is in the bottom 50%, it is likely that the lower performing person would stop displaying favorable characteristics as responsibility is given to them. With these in mind, we should have a baseline for selecting team members to invest in, but that isn’t the only component of achieving our dream companies.

Handpicking the right colleagues and clients is likely more vital than creating a so-called dream team. The case for that is that colleagues, and clients are more readily capable of introducing us to future clients, which allows us to expand. Maxwell advises us to consider the influence and character factors. The influence factor deals with who a client or colleague knows. For me as a business writer, I’m more likely to gain clients through people in other industries that have a similar problem to my clients. However, as a bookkeeper, Donna has gained a large number of clients through referrals from other bookkeepers. For our clients specifically, however, we need to ensure a certain standard of character is maintained. Consider the idea of a bookkeeper who has a client who wishes to commit fraud. Our bookkeeper might gain a small payout from the client, but given the possibility of incarceration, our hypothetical bookkeeper should get out of the situation as fast as possible. For us as leaders of our own small businesses, we have an extra incentive to leave clients with poor morals to protect our team from those hardships. In this way, we, as leaders, serve our team by protecting them.

At the end of the day, we become leaders to try and share a dream we have with others. Whether we have a dream of running the best gumbo shop in the world, or leading a team of dozens to revolutionize the financial sector, we will never get there without a team behind us. As our business grows, our team members may add value to our dream and change it in ways we didn’t expect to be possible. Our dedication to our clients and colleagues ensures a way to reach more people and expand faster than we believe possible. As long as we make wise decisions on who to invest in, eventually we can pass our dream business onto someone else as part of our legacies. And also to retire if we needed more convincing.


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