Everyone looks to the leader in the business and measures his or her performance. They are watching and waiting for signs, whether good or bad. They aren’t just waiting for the leader to fail, but they do want their leader to show who they really are – and demonstrate success.
As the leader, everything you do is being closely observed.
What the team observes, and how they interpret what they see, will shape your reputation.
Perception is reality.
It doesn’t matter what you think – what matters is how your team perceives you.
One situation where this can really come back to bite you is when there’s a perceived conflict of interest.
This could relate to a preferred supplier – someone you get on with really well – where the team simply sees poor performance. Not only does that supplier get a bad reputation (they only got the job because of their friendship with you) but so do you – you’re giving work to your mates.
It could be that there’s someone you like in the business and you have a friendship with them. The word will spread – you can’t keep that secret – and the rest of the team may think you’re giving your friend special treatment.
In family-owned businesses, it could be that a family member has been taken on. Are they there because they’re good at their job, or just because they’re a family member?
- You can’t help having friends in the business.
- It may make sense to employ a family member.
- You might form a friendship with that supplier.
So what can you do? The solution is to be transparent.
You can’t help the perception people have of you, but the more transparent you are the better things will be.
If it’s an employee who is your friend, perhaps have them report to a different manager.
If you’re going to employ a family member, make it abundantly clear to the rest of the team that this employee is there because he or she is a family member! That way, expectations will be low, but the results may surprise everyone in the team.