As women, we like to collaborate. It’s part of our makeup. However, it’s essential to know how to collaborate as an entrepreneurial leader because not all collaboration is beneficial. So in this next installment of the Leadership is Feminine Formula, we’re talking about the pluses and minuses of collaboration. When we first start a business,…

EP #8

Season 5 Episode 8: How to Collaborate as an Entrepreneurial Leader

As women, we like to collaborate. It’s part of our makeup. However, it’s essential to know how to collaborate as an entrepreneurial leader because not all collaboration is beneficial. So in this next installment of the Leadership is Feminine Formula, we’re talking about the pluses and minuses of collaboration.

When we first start a business, most of us start out as solopreneurs. It isn’t until later that we add a team and add elements of collaboration. And as we work through this new jungle of business growth, it can be way too easy to tumble into the pitfalls. One pitfall is believing that you need others to direct your business. Another is avoiding discomfort. Another is developing an environment where everything has to pass through your hands or approval first. All of these can hinder the growth you desire and deserve. But positive, beneficial collaboration is achievable. Let’s talk about it.

“We collaborate out of scarcity. We collaborate out of believing our ideas aren’t good enough… No. It’s still yours. You always drive the result… and you are totally competent.” – Kris Plachy

What You’ll Learn

  • Journey into collaboration
  • Staying strategic
  • Embracing discomfort
  • Retaining and teaching ownership
  • Banishing Problem-Solver-in-Chief status

Contact Info and Recommended Resources

Podcast episodes that pair well with this one:

Connect with Kris Plachy

Kris Plachy: Hey, hey, welcome to the Leadership is Feminine Formula. I am so happy that you’re here. I think you know a few weeks ago, we were talking about our leadership is Feminine Formula event that we held last week. And we really, really…Well, I certainly can speak for how much I loved it and the women that participated, we got so much great feedback and involvement, and we just launched How to CEO. And we have all sorts of wonderful new women that we’re working with.

So we’ve decided that we’re very likely going to host a similar event in the future. So, if you miss this one, and you’d like to come, or if you came, but you didn’t volunteer for coaching, and you’d like to come, go to www.krisplachy.com to learn more. We’re going to have the information there so you can register. And you can also find out more probably on our Instagram feed as well as we get closer to the next series of dates. We liked it so much that we decided we would share another excerpt from it.

So, this excerpt is focused on collaboration. And most women are big collaborators, which is good. We like to collaborate, even if we’re a little controlling. But we can collaborate in a way that we don’t get the results that we want. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today, sort of the plus and minus of collaborating. So, I hope you like what we’re chatting about. Tune in, and let’s get started!

When we think about collaborating, I just want you to walk through sort of a journey of what I know happens for most of us. So, when we first start our business, we are the primary doer, right? You do all of it, you’re the doer. A lot of us that’s solopreneurs. Now, some people skip that part because they start a business and they immediately have a team. But most people are solopreneurs, at least initially.

And then what happens is we start to hire people. And I referenced this the other day; we are applicators, so we hire people. We are like so happy to have help. We just say, “Hey, can you do this?” And we just assume that they’ll do it like we do. And then we’re woefully disappointed. The one role that we do this with the most is our bookkeepers, because most of us don’t love the numbers.

Now if you’re the accountant in the in the room, you probably love that. But a lot of us are like, “Yeah, no, my bookkeeper…how much money did you make? “I don’t know, I’d have to ask my bookkeeper.” And there’s no real engagement there. So that’s a good example of where a lot of people come from, they just abdicate parts of their business: social media, marketing, emails, whatever you don’t want to do, you hire people to do.

But initially, when we don’t have the skill of delegating, we abdicate. So then what happens is we’ve abdicated, it didn’t work, so now we’re going to be doers again. We have this tantrum, and we tell ourselves, this isn’t working, I’ll just take care of. We realize we can’t keep doing that. And so then maybe we actually invest in ourselves and how we manage and lead people and we learn how to delegate.

Delegating is an is an essential critical skill. And it is a skill, my love, it is not something you’re just supposed to be good at. And we teach you a delegation process. One of my clients loved it so much, she put it on an index card, and she stuck it on her monitor so that every time she asked somebody to do something, she would follow the delegation process, and she got better results. This is good news. It’s a skill. You can learn it.

But then we go from delegating to collaborating. And collaborating is where I want you to imagine, instead of you still thinking about what needs to be done, and having the steps to do it collaborating, is when you’re no longer even in this steps, you’re at a much more strategic level. And women, like I said, are natural collaborators, we like to share, we like to connect, we like to brainstorm. That’s very so much of what we do, right?

And so when I think of collaborating, I think of you at the head of a board table with your different department heads sitting there, and everyone is collaborating on solutions in the business. You are not telling them all the steps. Because there gets to be a point in your business, you know you can’t do that. And if you’re at a million right now, that might be even hard for you to imagine. But when you get to 5 and 6 and 8 million, you can’t do all you can think through it all. But we have to have the skill of collaborating.

And so the initial steps, the initial things to think about with collaborating, and these are our pitfalls, is that we collaborate out of scarcity. We collaborate out of believing our ideas aren’t good enough. I’ve coached so many women who’ve built very successful businesses, who believe they’re not qualified to run their own company. And so then they think they have to hire people to tell them what to do. No, it’s still yours. You always drive the result. You’re always involved. And you are totally competent. Anybody who wants you to think otherwise, needs to think again. I’ve had a lot of women come to me and say, “Oh, I’ve been approached by this person, he wants to partner with me.” No, be careful. That’s a whole other conversation before you take someone on who you think is going to save you.

All right. So we do this co-creating collaboration thing, but we do it out of belief of our that we’re not good enough. We’re insecure about our ideas. We’re uncomfortable with telling people what we want so we collaborate. We’re people-pleasing. Even though you might see clearly what you want, you go through the collaboration process only because you’re not comfortable being directive. And there are times as the leader of your business, you have to be totally directive.

So, when we’re collaborating out of a position of weakness, that’s not really collaborating, that’s using the group to sort of hide whatever kind of discomfort you have. It’s not bad, it’s just not as effective. So, we have to be honest with ourselves like, and I still will do that myself. Every now and then, I’ll ask everyone on a meeting, like what do you think? What do you think? What do you think? And it’s because I’m like, “I think I don’t know anything. Maybe one of you will know better.” I

And then what ends up happening, at least for me—and this is how I’ve been on to myself, I did a podcast about this—is when all of a sudden, we’re going in a direction in my business. And I’m like, “Wait a minute, what happened here? And it’s because I let too many other brains go in to my business and direct the behavior or their decisions of the business. And it wasn’t out of growth mindset for me, it was out of fear or insecurity. And then it’s messy. And I can always tell when I’ve gone there.

So you have to kind of be on to yourself, like: wait, how did we get here? Oh, we got here, because I didn’t feel comfortable telling them no, or because I didn’t feel comfortable even with my own direction, so I listened to the other people. And we have to remember who in the room is the woman who started the business and has made the money, right? Most people you hire are our employees. They’re not entrepreneurs, they think differently. It doesn’t mean they think badly. They just think differently. So before you start thinking, everybody else has all the great, great ideas, let’s just look at what you already created out of that brain, before you start dismissing that you don’t know anything.

The other way that we collaborate is the opposite, right? That we know that the collective brain will be better, it always usually is. But guess who ultimately always decides? You! If it’s affecting the whole organization, and you’re the CEO, you have to have that decision making authority, and that has to be clear on the team. It isn’t until we get to really larger organizations that we totally delegate those big decisions to heads of departments.

Most of my clients have 50 or less employees. So you’re still making the strategic decisions, it doesn’t mean that you’re coming up with them all, because your head of marketing or your customer service person is going to have some really strong ideas to bring to the table. And collectively, you guys will come up with even better ones. But you have to believe that that’s best for the organization, you’re not doing it just because you’re compensating for your own insecurity or discomfort. Also, collaboration is one of the best ways always to garner ownership of the group. And ownership is critical to success.

Everyone has to buy into their responsibility to deliver success to the business. When we don’t collaborate and we over direct, because we don’t trust people, we don’t create a culture of ownership, we create a culture of “I do whatever she tells me to do.” And what we know now about the workforce is that’s not flying very well. People want to be included. They want to know why, they want to understand, they want to be seen.

So, collaboration is a tremendous opportunity to create buy-in and ownership. It’s also a tremendous opportunity for empowerment, to empower people and show them how much you trust them, to pay deference, to experience and skill, but not in a way that you’re needy, just in a way that you respect it. There’s a difference, “I value what you bring to this table. Will you share with me what you think about this?”

And then always coming back to—I just want to emphasize that but ultimately, it’s always your decision. And if you’re uncomfortable holding that and dislike disagreement on the group, then we need to talk about that. So that you can step into a belief about yourself, that you can make a decision. And the truth is people won’t like your decision. We don’t lead people to be friends, we lead people to deliver results.

So, there will be people who don’t like your decisions, there will be clients who don’t like your decisions. There will be vendors who don’t like your decisions, there will be children who don’t like your decisions. There are people who don’t like things that you do, and there are people who don’t like you, and you can still be okay. I think this is good news. As soon as we’ve learn, like, really, ultimately, where the value of who you are comes from is yourself here, your own value, your own sense of worth.

And the last thing is when you learn to collaborate, and you do so well, you teach your team that you’re not the problem solver in chief, that you’re not going to be the one who fixes everything. When you don’t trust people and you don’t collaborate, you set it up, so that nothing can get done without your blessing. And then so the clients come to me and they’re like, “Why is everybody always asking me if I could do this, if they think this is a good idea, if I think they should do that,” because you’ve set it up that way. If you don’t want people to come to you all the time, you have to start to collaborate, you have to start to delegate and then collaborate. Otherwise, yeah, I mean, why would I do anything without your approval? So we have to go through that process, right.

And that’s kind of where I started at the beginning of the call, where we sort of have to have some discernment about what are the big mistakes, the little mistakes, so that we can help people thrive, and not over manage when they mess up, but also still address what we believe is important about the expectations that we’ve set.

So, collaboration is a really, really critical skill. And one of the things that we do quite frequently on calls, is talk to our clients about “I need to have this conversation.” We had a woman couple of months ago who wanted to figure out how to generate more revenue. And she was like, “Is that something I could bring to the team?” I’m like, “Of course it is.” She said, “Well, I don’t even know how to do that. “

So, then we talked about a whole strategy she could bring to the meeting to solicit everybody’s insight and come up with a plan. And it worked. She’s in lasers. She sells lasers. So it doesn’t matter what your team does. It matters how you lead and manage them, because all of the things that we talk about apply.

Hey, entrepreneur, you started that gorgeous business of yours to do some real good in the world. You probably didn’t start your business to manage people, but here you are, having to figure out how to manage people to get work done. And maybe it’s not going so well. So, head on over to www.krisplachy.com/howtoceo and let’s talk about how we can help you learn how to lead, manage, hire, fire, and all the things so that you can build a team that expands on your amazing dream.

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