MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you build a strong team? is written by Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO of Beautycounter.
We often hear about two important aspects in business specifically with regard to creating brands and attracting consumers, but I think these qualities are equally applicable when building a strong teams: transparency and authenticity.
When a company is initially establishing itself in the market place, it needs to hire “renaissance” employees: highly capable individuals with a depth of experience who can handle a wide variety of functions and quickly adapt to the unforeseen challenges and opportunities that inevitably will arise. However, as the organization grows, it’s up to the leader to work closely with his or her current team members to find the best opportunity for each of them based on their strengths and the company’s needs. This transparent communication sets clear objectives and expectations. You want your team to know exactly what they need to accomplish and how to accomplish it.
The “how” determines the level of authenticity of a company. Authenticity is not just an abstract concept that we use to make people feel better about buying into our companies and products; it sums up a company’s actual approach to conducting business. From establishing the mission and developing the product to formulating a strategy and building the team, the execution needs to be true to the values that your company advocates.
Yet as the landscape shifts and your company grows, you need to be sure that your team is prepared. Specific needs evolve as the organization expands, and you must be proactive or risk losing pace with the growth. A strong team requires more from people than just showing up. I personally need people who believe in our shared goals and mission and who want to be a part of the movement, rather than those primarily looking for personal advancement. I look for passionate people. That passion may be for the products we sell, the people we serve, the work we are doing, or the business we are building.
As you solidify your team, actively place your trust in them. Demonstrate your confidence in team members, empowering them to successfully lead their own efforts. Let the team know that you value their time and their voices, and that you are listening to them. My own experience has taught me that team members are most receptive to direction and instruction after being given the chance to express their own ideas.
Today, business transparency is demanded across every facet of an organization. Companies that openly engage with consumers are viewed as more “authentic” than those that default to the old, reactive ways of interacting with customers. More than ever before, team members are visible through social media/etc. and are not masked by the public face of a company, and gone are the days when consumers distinguished between organizations and the teams that operated them. And so, at the end of the day, the true measure of authenticity will be determined by the strength of the team itself, and their commitment to the mission and the movement.
Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you build a strong team?
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The difference between a great leader and a good one by Kerry Healey, president of Babson College.
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How to build a strong team without micromanaging by Sally Blount, Dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
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