I’ve been talking to many clients lately about dealing with people’s issues and overusing their strengths.
It made me reflect on my own struggles with my employees. I ran my companies leading with my heart.
I often say that empathy is my superpower. Running a business needs a balance of head and heart (and wisdom).
Leading from the heart has so many more upsides than downsides. First, I can form connections with the employees; they feel seen and heard. Even when I disagree with them, they understand the values I lead with.
However, when things got out of balance, and I was leading with too much heart, I started experiencing issues.
These may sound familiar to you as well:
Since my companies started small, the roles had a lot of variety
The types of roles we needed in the businesses changed as we grew.
Some people who started with me were not the right person to fit the new roles critical to company success. While their skillset and capabilities were essential early on, they were not the best fit going forward.
I looked through a lens of gratitude and loyalty when making those decisions, and I valued the team members’ contributions.
I didn’t recognize that I could value their contributions and have the complicated conversation that the new roles did not match them.
Being a small company, they had to move to a different part of the organization and contribute differently. Therefore, for far too long, I put off changing to the new roles.
We all have failures and tend to overuse our strengths
We fail every day.
I listened to why the team members missed deadlines, struggled to complete tasks, miscommunicated a critical piece of information, and I empathized with them. It happens.
However, I waited too long to address patterns of behavior. When the behavior kept happening, I continued to empathize with the reasoning. Finally, they committed to shifting their behavior, and I was glad to hear that. However, the pattern continued.
I allowed it to go on too long. In one case, the team member recognized they wouldn’t change and secured themselves a different job before I even dealt with the situation. This left me in the lurch as I had yet to plan for their replacement.
I see the potential in all my clients
I recognize their development paths and am excited to work with them through this development. That is how I approached my early hiring practices.
I saw the growth potential in the team members I hired. However, when it comes to team members, especially in a smaller company, you need them to perform immediately. I would have preferred to allow them 3-6 months to develop into a role.
This hiring practice slowed my business growth substantially and left everyone frustrated. I eventually changed my practices, brought in some recruiting help, and put a hiring team in place.
A strong area in my client work led to a massive blindspot regarding hiring.
I will always lead my business through a heart lens. But I know now that I need to keep that lens balanced to ensure we achieve the results we seek.
We all have areas of strength that can hamper our growth, progress, and results when out of balance.