Buy yourself a mirror.
When I work with my clients, I explain to them that my job is to be their sounding board, and also -- more importantly - their mirror. Mirrors show people for what they truly are, in an undistorted, simple way. Not every client likes this concept, thinking it sounds strange or, more often, afraid of what they may see in themselves. There is no harder person to face than ourselves.
Truth is, looking in a mirror is not only the best thing you can do for yourself. It's is the one thing that you owe yourself to do frequently - and it will have an instant, positive impact on managing your business.
Employees receive feedback on their performance at least once a year. For business leaders, especially entrepreneurs and C-level executives, that feedback is often harder to come by. No one wants to be the one to tell the boss he has work to do to improve his performance. No one is going to be honest with the boss and say his management style is ineffective. Most managers and executives keep a virtual shield around themselves to keep employees from seeing their weaknesses, faults or failures. But just because we think others don't see something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Many leaders hire coaches to help them through this process, but you can do some of it on your own. Taking a long, hard look in a big mirror allows us to see what we don't normally see. We all get so caught up in our day-to-day responsibilities, working often feverishly to motivate employees, get the job done and turn a profit. But, there are four areas of your performance that can benefit from regular breaks to find where small changes can initiate big results.
1. How you manage. Get with the times and update your management style. Haven't you heard? Management by fire is outdated, in case you didn't get the memo. Maybe for some, this method seems to be successful, but if you don't update now, you may find employees jumping ship very soon. Your job is no longer to manage (or worse, micromanage). Your job is to lead and show employees the way. Remember what your mother used to say--you get more with honey than you do with vinegar. If you find yourself frustrated with your employees, start by looking at yourself. Consider how you are failing to lead them. You may think it's your job to light a fire under your employees. You may think it's their responsibility to just do what their told. But that doesn't mean they will. There's a reason they are working for you rather than owning a business of their own. If after looking in the mirror, you decide that leading others is not your forte, consider firing yourself and assigning yourself a new role within the company.
2. How you look. You can't expect employees to dress well, comb their hair, and smell good if you are a mess yourself. And no matter what business you're in or how good you think you look, there is room for improvement. No one wants to hire a slob. Or said better, we are a visual species and anyone who claims otherwise is lying to himself. People want to hire people for a variety of reasons but not the least of which is for how they physically present themselves to the world. It's part of their personal brand. And as the saying goes, you can't be good to others unless you're good to yourself first.
3. How you speak. If you're meek or never speak up, or you are a loud mouth who is crass or who bullies people into getting what you want, it's time to face it and improve your verbal style. Your communication style can make or break your ability to lead employees and gain clients or customers.
4. How you work. If your business has been suffering lately or you haven't been able to grow your enterprise the way you want, a long, hard look in a mirror is just the thing to move things along. Your ideas might have been effective and taken your enterprise this far, but just because something worked before, doesn't mean it's good for your business now. First acknowledge your way might not be the best way and that you don't have all the answers. Then be open to finding new, more effective ways to do things. Perhaps your employees have ideas that you've ignored or failed to solicit. Don't let your ego prevent your business from thriving.