In a small company, you can’t afford to carry anyone. It’s incredibly important to have great people that you really trust to support you in growing the company. Here are the nine traits you should look for when promoting employees.
1. Humility – not arrogance.
Put an arrogant person in charge and you’ll only confirm their belief that they know everything, are personally responsible for every success, and never need to ask questions or thank anyone else for their efforts. Funnily enough, this kind of attitude does little to motivate the teams they lead. Someone with a little humility, on the other hand, is far more likely to make their teams feel valued, to keep learning and trying out others’ ideas, and to ask for help instead of hiding problems until it’s too late. They are also more likely to jump in and do whatever’s needed to fix a problem, rather than turning their nose up at work they feel is beneath them.
2. A genuine team player
If your newly promoted leader is only in it for themselves, your business will suffer. It’s as simple as that. You need to be sure that the person you put your trust in is someone is enthusiastic about building the company, providing great customer service and motivating their team – not just amassing enough personal glory to furnish their CV for the next career move.
Having a positive, problem-solving attitude creates an energy and buzz that can galvanise the whole office. Pessimists, on the other hand, can drain the life out of a project and the enthusiasm out of a team.
4. Seeing a project through to the end
Great ideas are one thing – but the best leaders will not just develop their idea, create a strategy and set up a basic operational plan. They’ll execute, adapt, execute, revise, execute and refine their idea until they have a fully functional, successful model – not just a theory.
5. Long-term thinkers
Commanding the respect, trust and willing support of colleagues can’t be achieved overnight. The person you promote should have a track record of inspiring their colleagues and getting the best out of them. They should be someone who has a clear vision of the company’s long term goals, how to work towards them, and how each person in the team can play a vital role in making that happen.
6. Natural volunteers
When you launch your company, it’s hard not to be obsessive. You want to control every detail, right down to the position of the logo on your branded pens. But if you want your company to grow, you can’t do this forever. That means promoting people who will take the pressure off you by volunteering for tasks and proactively seeking ways to shift your workload to them. No matter how brilliant an employee is, if they lack initiative you will exhaust yourself with micromanaging and will never have time to do the really big stuff your company needs.
If you put someone at the head of the team, they need to be able to lead that team. To do this effectively, they’ll need to understand the feelings and motivations of their co-workers, and to provide the support, compassion and encouraging environment that they need to thrive.
In a small company – especially a fast-growing small company – things are constantly changing. When you’re thinking about who to put in leadership positions, you need to choose people who can be flexible and adapt quickly and calmly to these changes, acting as “shock absorbers” for the rest of the team.
9. A desire to be a teacher, not a prison guard
Effective leadership is not about making sure people turn up and threatening them if they don’t. It’s about really inspiring your team to want to turn up. It’s about sharing the knowledge you have and giving people the space to develop their skills without suffocating them. You might think that the best person to promote is the one that can really crack the whip, but really, the mark of a successful leader is someone who can take a day off and know that their team will work just as hard, and as passionately, whilst they are gone.