When a Solopreneur Builds a Team


Last month I had the ability to attend a lunchtime seminar (my coworking space offers them every Wednesday) on leadership. The woman speaking, Tiffany Timmons-Saab shared her story of burning the candle at both ends, which ended up with a hospital visit on Christmas Eve, due to pneumonia. Yikes.

I have been there, and many business owners I know have been there. You’re trying to do it all. Trying to keep all the plates spinning. Trying to keep your family, social life, friends, work, bills, and probably your sanity afloat all at the same time. It’s no small task. (And it’s also why my team and I do what we do. We figured it out.)

Tiffany talked us through what makes a “dynamic team” and how to create what she called “breakthrough conversations” with our teams. I was in the workshop with about 15 other small business owners, entrepreneurs, creatives, and team leaders. There were people from all walks of life, types of businesses, with varying sizes of teams.

We talked about talking. Really, we went through typical kinds of communication between a manager/leader and their team(s) and how it can result in two options -- breakthrough or break up. As she gave us scenarios, I was constantly reminded of conversations I’d had with my own team, advertisers, sponsors, people that wanted to buy companies I’ve run, as well as men I’ve dated. Even conversations with my ex-husband came to my mind.

Many participants gave examples of their own conversations that resulted in either breakthrough or breakup. And it was interesting because we all could relate to each other, no matter the industry, team size, or product/service our business(es) provided. We all shared common ground: leadership is hard. Being a leader is something that will stretch and grow you. And not everyone gets it right all the time… having grace with yourself is a key part of the process.

Then came another truth bomb from Tiffany.

You can either react or respond.

Reacting is quick. Sharp. Emergency-must-say-something-this-minute style. Reacting is hasty. It creates breakups more often than not. And breakups mean your team has high turnover, you’re more stressed, and you’ve made gaping hole in your workflow, responsibilities, process, and system… and you now also have that on your plate. Reacting is often done without being aware or giving thought to the other person’s feelings, mental state, or emotions.

Responding takes more time than reacting. Responding is less of a knee-jerk reaction. Responding is conscious. And, you usually don’t have to say sorry when you respond. Responding creates breakthroughs, not breakups. And breakthroughs? They can result in long term, devoted, diligent, engaged employees.

Communicate in a way you can have a breakthrough. Not a break up.

Tiffany’s book, “You’re Leading Now” releases Fall 2017. You can find her through her consulting firm, The Timmons Group.