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11 business lessons I’ve learned by being a leader for 11 years

It’s been 11 years since I started my journey as a leader. Just like every business owner, I’ve had my share of ups and downs during this period. I won’t say it was a bumpy ride, I’d like to put it as an exciting one. Throughout the journey I’ve learned quite a lot, and the learning is going even right now.

This post is not about how I started my company(ProofHub) or any hardships that I had to face throughout the journey. It is about the lessons I’ve learned as a person, as a leader and as a businessman.

Though the list of lessons is countless, I’m going to highlight 11 of the biggest lessons that have helped me shape up my career as an entrepreneur. Take a look, who knows you might be able to take a leaf or two out of my book.

1. Best people? No, the right ones!

Right people at the right job will make your business the best. Even if you are able to get the best resources in the market to work for you, but they are not able to fit within your business culture their prowess will be of no use.

There have been more than a couple of times when I had spent more than what I intended to hiring a resource, but it did not work well because of the mismatch in thinking and working ideologies.

2. Show your trust them

You might say that you trust the team. But, when it comes to taking important decisions, do they have to completely rely on you? Forget about important decisions, do they have to ask you for every small thing? Well, that’s not how great teams are built.

Great teams are built on trust. And, this trust does not come by just saying. It comes by showing confidence in their abilities, letting them handle their line of work, and making sure that they are working independently.

3. You got to walk to the talk

I have seen managers who expect employees to spend more than their allocated hours at work, whereas they are the last to come and first to leave for the day. However, this never really worked with teams because the managers could not really motivate the teams to achieve beyond ordinary. But, this is not how businesses grow.

This is the reason that I decided, no matter what I won’t be such a leader. Whenever it comes to overtiming, setting an example or going beyond the usual at work, a leader should be the first person to do it.

4. There is no replacement for hard work

Smart work has replaced hard work. People work smart these days and not hard. And, all these kind of sayings are quite prevalent in the market. But 11 years as a leader have taught me that there is no replacement for hard work. There never was, and there will be any replacement for the same as well.

People who have worked hard for something know how to do it smartly. Someone who is always looking for the easy option to do things from the first step is never going to reach anywhere in life. Hard work, blended with a smart work approach is the way to go!

5. Always aim for the moon

Dreams and aspirations are the fuel for a leader. If you will not dream BIG, you will always remain small. When I started my company, not many people really believed in me. People thought I’m just a new kid on the block, who will vanish in sometime.

But thanks to some wonderful people I’ve met during these years, who are part of ProofHub even now, and the constant hard work we all have put together, I’ve managed to stay strong throughout these 11 years.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

When you are a leader everyone expects you to know everything. And, the load of these expectations sometimes get the better of you. You are simply put in a mental state where asking someone for help seems like climbing Mount Everest.

“What will the employees think if I went to ask for help from them?” This is one of the biggest fears for a leader. However, after all these years as a leader I’ve come to realize one thing — your team is your family. And, you don’t hesitate to ask for help from your family. If you will treat them likewise, you will garner great respect. If you won’t they will just come in the morning, spend their 8 hours at work, leave in the evening and wait for payday.

Ask yourself, would you want to have team with such mentality?

7. Don’t try to make the employees something they are not

Why is he always sitting with the earphones on? We need him to mix up with the team. Tell him to interact with everyone a bit more, and not to use earphones.”

“She talks a bit too much. I think it is because of her the team is facing distractions. Let’s change her seat and make her sit in a corner where she does not have anyone to talk to. Maybe that way we can get more out of her.”

Such scenarios are quite common in offices. But, what I believe as a leader is that each person has a personality type. And, it is the responsibility of a leader to nurture the environment in which that personality can flourish. By ordering them to change their behavioral aspects, you are in a way trying to tame a beast, it is not going to do down too well in the longer. You might get them to work for a certain while, but they will soon start to feel their job as a burden and would start looking for better options.

8. Thankfulness is a virtue that not many leaders possess

It was his job to do this, why should I thank him.” “She’d get what she deserves during performance review, there is no need to float an appreciation email.”

I’m sure you can relate to these sentences. Many a time leaders feel by appreciation leads to complacency and self-centeredness. This is the reason they don’t really believe in praising the employees no matter how hard they have worked.

However what I’ve learned being a leader is that thankfulness is a virtue that allows you make the other person realize that you value his or efforts. And, that the other person means something for your business.

9. No one else will solve your problems but you

There were good times, there were bad times. There were easy times, and there were tough times. Though I’m a firm believer in taking everyone together in success, but what I came to realize that when troubles come you cannot expect anyone else to take a stand for you unless you are proficient enough to take the first step.

No matter how much faith you have in your team, you need to show the zeal that you can handle everything otherwise people will leave the boat as soon as they think it is sinking.

10. Don’t give up

This might come for many as a cliche, but it is still a lesson that we all learn with experience. And, it’s not just about the big things you believe in like starting your own business by quitting the job. It lies in small things as well. From believing in a piece of content which you think must work to writing a code that according to you is the best, you need to keep trying until you achieve it.

By giving up at these small steps you are actually acclimatizing your mind to never be prepared for the bigger things. And, hence you will give up easily when a tough situation comes during those bigger decisions that you might have to make. Train your brain to never give up, and it won’t!

11. Don’t be too serious

The biggest of them all — you must never forget to have fun at work. In fact, at ProofHub our aim is to make sure that our daily work routine never gets boring. You can see people stealing each other’s stuff for fun, playing pranks and a lot more. And, whenever the walls of office start to get a grimace on our face I’m the first one to plan a small excursion over the weekend so that the team never misses out on having fun!

This was the list of 11 lessons that I’ve managed to learn over the course of past 11 years. I’ve lived these years, I’ve loved these years and I continue to enjoy every moment till now. I hope my few cents are going to help budding entrepreneurs and leaders in their early stage become better at their role.

Here’s wishing everyone of you all the best!

Author Bio:

Sandeep Kashyap is the Founder and CEO of ProofHub — a leading project management and collaboration software. He’s one person always on a lookout for innovative ideas about filling the communication gap between groups, teams, and organizations. You’ll find him saying, “Let’s go!” instead of “Go!” many times a day. That’s what makes him write about leadership in a way people are inspired to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.



Opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees.

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