Being a business leader is one of the most challenging yet fulfilling careers in the world. There is much responsibility that comes with leading a team of people.
All of the success or failure of a project will fall on your shoulders, and you’ll likely be responsible for putting together teams of people.
So how do you become a better business leader? Well, we wanted to answer that question, so we talked with Koen Vanpraet.
Koen Vanpraet is a business leader with years of experience. He is a professional consultant for businesses, large and small, and has used to expertise to train many leaders.
We sat down and interviewed Vanpraet in order to learn some of his best tips for mastering the role of business leader.
How important is it to know how to put together a team? How much effort goes into that?
Koen Vanpraet: Well, it’s critical, of course. I think everyone knows, intuitively, that putting together a good team is important.
Most people do not realize the amount of work that goes into putting together an excellent team. A good business leader needs to see qualities below the surface and understand how different personalities work together.
Two employees may be great alone but put them together, and they’ll but heads and become much less productive, you know. Look at people as people, and understand their strengths and weaknesses.
Is the power of positivity real? Is it more important to be positive or realistic?
Koen Vanpraet: Gary Vaynerchuk and Simon Sinek really opened my eyes to this in their books. The power of positivity is definitely real.
If the leader is sitting there saying there’s no way to meet the deadline or how pointless a project is, then everyone else will follow suit. Even other team members being negative can impact everyone else.
Negativity spreads so much. Be realistic, of course, but never negative. “Hey, this is gonna be hard, but let’s just try to do what we can” is a lot better than “There’s no way we’ll get this done. It’s doomed”.
How much leeway should a business leader give their teams, as far as creativity is concerned?
Koen Vanpraet: I always encourage creativity. One of the most outdated business practices that could hold you back is not doing so. If leaders are not giving leeway to their employees or team members, they’re handicapping themselves.
Encouraging creativity at work not only does keep members motivated and helps them feel more fulfilled, but in my experience, it will even boost productivity and help discover new processes.
Why do you think communication is so important? Is there a reason other than just general productivity?
Koen Vanpraet: Communication keeps morale up, especially in troubling times. Sometimes deadlines just can’t be met, and it’s easy as leaders to turn our noses up and say, “I don’t care, get it done.”
But that’s not right. That will build disdain between you and your team members and inevitably lead to failed projects.
Listen to concerns, and work with people. Come to compromises and build solutions. It’s crucial for long-term success.
How do you feel about rewarding team members? How often should rewards be given?
Koen Vanpraet: Happy people work better. That’s proven, and rewards are a great way to keep happy employees.
It’s important not to patronize people and give real rewards for good work. Offering a sub-par reward for excellence and hard work is frankly insulting and worse than awarding nothing.
Remember, these are real people, and they deserve to be compensated for the work they put in.
Connect with Koen Vanpraet on Twitter @vanpraetk and Linkedin @koenpvanpraet.