“My team doesn’t seem to care as much as I do.”
Those were the words of Nelson, a business owner I recently spoke with. I listened intently as he described the situation. It was remarkably similar to mine.
His team didn’t have the fire that he had.
They seemed to be going through the motions. When things went wrong, they didn’t lose the sleep that he lost. When things were right, they didn’t seem to celebrate like he would. Nelson was at a loss…”what do I do, Matt?” he asked.
The brutal truth
Whether you are business owner or team leader, I have a brutal truth for you:
You are the owner. Or you are the leader. You live and die with everything that happens in your company or department.
I remember my second business. I started it with two friends while still living with my mother. Every day, I woke up before 7:00 AM and worked all day until after midnight. All day, every day. I did sales. I did the website. I did the marketing. I did everything there was to do at one point or another.
The business was my baby.
I raised it. I nurtured it. I worried for it. I celebrated its successes like a proud parent. I cried when bad things happened to it. I would do anything for it…and for nearly a year I gave up my life for it.
That’s what most business owners do to start businesses.
All leaders must face this brutal truth: Your team will never care as much as you do.
Building a team
The first year was just the three of us and one overseas developer. Year two brought me one part-time assistant who eventually became full-time.
Then…I woke up one day and we had nearly fifty people working for us. More than ten of them reported directly to me.
How did this happen? I asked myself.
What happened to parenting this company on our own?
Why doesn’t anyone care as much as I do?
Why isn’t the new guy freaking out over the things I’m freaking out about?
Why are people leaving before 6:00?
Why? Why? Why? (Yes, I was more than a little whiny about it)
I never got it. I never realized that no one would ever care about that business as much as I did.
Because I was an owner. Because not everyone else was like me. Not everyone got riled up about the little things. Some people acted differently under pressure (imagine that).
Learning personality styles
When I would burst into a room with the latest company crisis and no one leaped out of their seats, I assumed that meant no one cared at all. In reality, they were just processing. In reality, they were just calmer than I was.
I am a high D personality (if you are unfamiliar with DISC profiles, my free report 3 Killer Ways to Use DISC Profiles…and 3 Huge Mistakes to Avoid will help you). Most of my team, in fact most of the workforce, was not. I had exactly zero high D’s on my team. I saw their lack of freaking out as aloofness and laziness.
So I was jerk about it (take a wild guess how that worked out).
I pushed even harder. I jumped down the throats of people who didn’t react the same way I did. I tried to make everyone be just like me.
I made the #1 mistake that so many leaders make…I tried to change people. That never works.
Back to Nelson
Nelson faced the exact same situation. As a high D business owner, he is surrounded by people who aren’t high D’s and who aren’t as passionate about his business as he is.
Once he accepted that brutal truth and was at peace with it, everything changed for him. He no longer saw his team as aloof or lazy. He no longer expected them to care as much as he does. It was an unrealistic expectation.
He learned how to communicate with other personality styles. He taught his team the best ways to communicate with him. He let some people go who weren’t adjusting to the others’ communication styles. He’s now building a team of adaptable people who communicate well as a team.
He gave up the mindset that everyone else should care as much as he does and that they should think, act, and communicate like he does. He is at peace now with who his team is, a collection of individuals with different backgrounds, dreams, and goals in life. And for the first time, his business is thriving…and he is making a difference and changing the world.
How can you shift your mindset to learn to understand others and communicate better?