Managing a company as an entrepreneur means dynamic leadership. There are no set guidelines to inspiring your hires, says Omar Kattan, MD & Chief Strategy Office at Sandstorm Digital.

You’re going to need to be flexible, and able to take on a conservative or risk-taking approach, as the situation demands. You’ll also need to know yourself and your team inside out if you want to know how to motivate them.

1. Know and manage your emotions

Part of leading a group means having to deal with yourself. You’ll need to manage your emotions and either stifle them or use them to push you. Pay attention to how you work. If something sets you off, whether positively or negatively, write it down. Also note whether or not embracing that emotion actually went well. This will help you develop a sense of when you should go all in or if you should take five.

You cannot afford to be a slave to your emotions. If you are, you’ll be unable to handle the emotions of your co-workers. Manage yourself before managing your team.

2. Balance emotions with thought

Strong emotions can undermine even the most disciplined of minds, if they don’t have practise handling them. That doesn’t mean that emotions are the enemy. What it means is that you need to have some experience dealing with your emotions and keeping your cool, no matter what.

Don’t shy away from necessary conflicts, even little ones. This will let you practice dealing with the emotions that come with conflict. The more experience you have, the more discipline you’ll have to fall back on if you find yourself losing control.

If you can’t see the big picture because your emotions take over, you’ll never be able to lead your team or keep their heads in the game.

3. Develop empathy

The average person isn’t going to develop emotions without cause. Whether that cause is rational or accurate is beside the point – what is important is that you know that emotions are reactions to outside stimuli. The intensity of the emotion and its ebb and flow largely rely on those stimuli. You need to identify how your employees are feeling, and figure out whether you should give them a break or push them further.

If you think something has happened that will trigger negative emotions, give the affected employee time and maybe even physical distance to help those emotions dissipate. But if they’re getting really excited, strongly consider provoking that emotion and using it to inspire them into great acts.

Make sure your employees get the time they need to compose themselves, or make sure that they stay motivated and excited throughout a project. Make sure that any rewards you promise are awarded when they are earned – otherwise, it will teach them to ignore your promises, which can result in reduced morale, distrust and resentment.

4. View your team as individuals, not a single entity

While you and your team are working towards the same goal, each person comes into the project with their own agenda. This is natural, and the specific agenda varies from person to person. Some want to build up their resume, while others just want to make money.

Your employees will need to feel that they can accomplish their personal goals without fear that your influence will limit them. Keep this individuality in mind as you manage your employees.

The prospect of a big raise may excite one person, but another may find it a boring reward. As your company grows in size, you’ll find it difficult to motivate everyone and may have to settle for inspiring the leaders and influencers of the team.

5. Use their feelings for the group as inspiration

Managing the group as a whole is about getting them to focus on how success will help the people around them, as well as themselves. Make the company or product more than a project – make it a cause. Tell them how critical a certain action will be and how it can make things better for everyone.

Don’t just tell them to build a boat – show them the ocean and they’ll build the boat themselves.

Creating a culture of inspiration is mostly about analyzing yourself and the people around you. Know what makes people tick, and you’ll be able to guide and motivate them effectively. Fail to develop empathy and a working understanding of emotions and you will likely fail as an entrepreneur.

Omar Kattan is MD & Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital FZE, a Dubai-based content marketing agency.  His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK.

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