When you’re the business owner, you’re the boss. You make the rules, punish violators, hand out the paychecks, establish the working hours, hire and fire. In essence, you control the fate of your employees. You’re the “sovereign ruler” of the business. But has this power gone to your head? Do you have the lord of the manor mentality? No matter how good you think you’re “ruling” your business, you need to read this!
Perception is a mental impression. It’s our feelings and opinions formed on the basis of sensation and conscious awareness. We are in charge of our own perception of reality and we may perceive ourselves different than others perceive us.
When it comes to your company, reality is the combination of your entire team’s perceptions, not just yours. If your employees feel like peasants under your control, regardless of how you view yourself, you have a serious problem on your hands. Even if your employees sense the slightest feeling of smug superiority from you, it can have detrimental effects.
Just like your health or car need a periodic checkup to ensure things are running properly, efficiently, and effectively; it’s always good to give your leadership skills a once over a few times a year as well. Take the time to ensure your reality is on the same page as your team’s. The most crippling perception of yourself is one that thinks you’re perfect. We all have room to grow and we start that journey by identifying our weaknesses.
Power has the crazy ability to make us do things we would never otherwise do. When we become arrogant or irresponsible with power, people usually say the power has gone to our head. Even the best of us can fall victim to the lure of power. But when you allow your power to go to your head as a business owner, it can have significant consequences.
The common illusion is that the business owner wants to be and even thinks he/she is a humble and just boss and yet, power is abused or wielded in such a way that employees feel like peasants under the control of a medieval lord!
I remember reading about lords, peasants, and the entire Feudal System in 10th grade. One time when I was called on to read out loud, I went through a whole chapter referring to peasants as pheasants. It wasn’t until after I was done reading that my teacher said, in front of the whole class mind you, “It’s actually peasants, not pheasants.” My friends never let that go! And because of that embarrassing experience, I never forgot what I learned about Feudalism.
Under the Feudal System, the peasants owed loyalty and service to the lord in exchange for land and protection. Lords were rich and controlled their lands, establishing taxes and even their own system of justice. Peasants were under the strict control of the lord. Most of these peasants were serfs, which had to ask the lord’s permission to do such things as leave the land or even marry. Serfs were poor, had no rights, did most of the hard labor for little in return, and like most people outside of nobility, experienced a harsh life.
Now, it’s easy to draw some correlations between Feudalism and business, given the facts that employees are under the authority of the business owner, business owners establish their own policies and procedures, and business owners are typically wealthier than their team. But are those the only similarities? We would hope so, but that may very well not be the case.
The lord of the manor mentality is a supercilious attitude creating a divide between the business owner and the team. This divide disrupts affinity, damages rapport, and breeds production inefficiencies. But worst yet, it hurts your work culture and negatively affects your business environment.
Do me a favor and take this little quiz. Be 100% honest (Note to Self: Be honest to thyself) and consider each question carefully. We’ll discuss them after.
Check your answers against the key below:
If you got a perfect score, your employees feel appreciated, important, and your work culture and the environment within your business is positively affected by your attitude and behavior. Feel free to pat yourself on the back and move on with your day.
If you didn’t get 100%, you have some work to do. Your attitude or behavior is negatively affecting your work culture and the environment within your business and needs to be repaired. It’s time to repair the gaps in your leadership skills!
Make a note of your areas of weakness. These areas will require your focus and determination to improve. Within the next 30 days, create a game plan that you can follow towards growth in these areas. This game plan should include what you want to achieve, how you’re going to achieve it, when you’re going to achieve it, and what obstacles might stand in your way. Depending on your areas of weakness, you may be able to focus on more than one area at a time. Here are a few resources to get you moving in the right direction!
Attitude: Inner Peace; Help You Find It I Will
Gratitude: Which One of Us Should Say “Thank You”
Communicating Expectations: Eight Simple Principles to a Massive Culture Shift
Acknowledgment: Why You Should Stop Giving Out Christmas Bonuses
Employee Feedback: 5 Questions You Should Ask Your Employees
Work Environment: Office Culture
Reacting Instead of Leading: How to Be Prepared for When the Sky is Falling!
Though there are plenty of business owners that know how to lead a team well and create a healthy, positive feeling within their business, there are plenty that do not. It blows my mind how often I hear about a boss that is characteristically temperamental, inconsistent, unaccountable, selfish . . . or all of the above. It makes me think, “Does he/she truly not realize how negatively that affects his or her work culture!?”
As the business owner, you set the stage, you set the precedent, you’re the numbero uno eco-factor (or ecological factor, for the unhip). When you’re temperamental, it makes the environment uncomfortable and obliterates affinity. When you’re inconsistent, it diminishes your credibility. When you’re unaccountable, it destroys rapport, confidence, and trust. Needless to say that it’s absolutely hypocritical and you might as well say goodbye to accountability being a part of your work culture. And when you’re selfish, it vanquishes loyalty and camaraderie to the utmost degree. When your attitude and behavior creates an environment that has become negative in these ways, employees begin to feel like they’re not valued, they feel insecure, uncomfortable, anxious, and sometimes, abused or taken advantage of.
Is that the example you want to set for your team!?
The culture of your business is built around you. Don’t expect your culture to reflect different values than what you represent.
You can’t effectively or successfully lead your team from up there on that high horse. The safer your team feels, the better they produce; they want to problem-solve and strategize, they want to meet objectives and further the mission, they want to achieve and excel, they want to win. Your attitude, acknowledgment, compassion, accountability, clear communication . . . all these things create a feeling within your workplace and shape the culture with what is valued. People want to work for a company with a positive culture. And if you create one, your team will thrive in it.
When your team can see their value and they feel appreciated, respected, and cherished, they come to work with you, not for you. Only then are they intrinsically motivated to achieve the vision. This is when the threads of accountability and productivity are weaved into your culture. With the means to measure and communicate performance, you can motivate your team to continue moving the production needle by acknowledging performance and rewarding your team members when they meet or exceed your expectations. Equally significant, when you’re measuring and communicating performance, your team knows what they’re responsible for and how they measure up to your production expectations.
Under these circumstances, you feel happier and your team feels happier, because the environment is more connected, transparent, positive, and empowering. Qualities that create efficiencies and opportunities to improve. And it all starts with your leadership.
Your mentality is more influential and powerful than you probably give it credit.
You’re the head of your work culture, you’re at the forefront of what it is and what it can become. Since every business has a work culture, why not make it one you love? Why not make it one that empowers your employees and enhances their lives? Why not make it one that moves the production needle and furthers your vision?
At the end of the day, the only things you can really control in this life are your perception, your attitude, your choices, and your actions. Control those wisely and you actually have the power to change your circumstances.
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