Running a business is hard. Really hard. No matter how long you do it, you’re unlikely to ever feel like you have all the answers.
Just don’t tell your employees. As the owner, the buck stops with you — and, while it’s appropriate to project humility from time to time, it’s never a good idea to let your subordinates on to the fact that you have no idea what you’re doing. (Or, you know, less of an idea than you should.)
Over time, you’ll gain more confidence and competence with experience. But, with no boss looking over your shoulder and making sure you remain on the right path, you might struggle to motivate yourself to actually get better. As long as your business stays afloat and your position remains secure, why rock the boat?
Don’t think of it as rocking the boat. Think of it as manning the helm with an ever-steadier hand. When the buck stops with you, use these four techniques to hold yourself accountable and ensure that your business remains in good hands.
1. Hold Public Performance Reviews
Ever heard of a reverse performance review? Just try it; everyone’s doing it.
Seriously: reverse performance reviews, open to your company’s general public, are pretty popular these days.
Formats vary, but the basic idea is you get up on stage (or, in more modest venues, the head of the conference table) and invite your employees to have at you. Go around the room and discuss your biggest successes and shortcomings as a leader, what you need to do to improve morale and performance, and what you need from your team to make that happen. If you’re worried about doing this in the middle of a workway, be bold and schedule your review for a company picnic or happy hour.
2. Maintain a Suggestion Box, and Really Check It
Hi — the 80s called, and it wants its leadership accountability idea back.
What’s that? You actually like this one?
Not surprising. As long as you check it regularly and heed the feedback contained within, a literal suggestion box — literally purchased on Amazon, if you want — can be a great accountability tool. Just take steps to ensure all feedback is anonymous, like requiring typed notes, so that you’re not tempted to retaliate.
3. Join Peer Groups
It’s lonely at the top — unless you’re in the middle of a vast, rugged mountain range, close enough to your fellow climbers to shout (or speak in normal, inside voices) across the chasms.
What’s an intrepid entrepremountaineer to do? For starters, join local peer groups: young executive roundtables, industry-specific leadership cohorts, networking societies that bring leaders from your niche’s vendor and supplier ranks together. Join national and online-only leadership groups if you qualify, too. And don’t be afraid to speak up! Your experience might be just as valuable as that of older, more seasoned peers.
4. Set Aggressive, Aspirational Business & Personal Goals
What good is a professional goal that fails to take you out of your comfort zone? This is the simplest leadership tidbit of all: Set business and personal goals more aggressive than you’re comfortable with — and then push yourself to exceed them.
How do you hold yourself accountable and lead by example?