We strive to be a self-managing team, a hierarchy-free business. We have a culture of independence and interdependence to allow each member of the team to develop their own skills and ideas and to drive inspirational thinking through the business. It isn’t always easy and of course, with varying degrees of responsibility and experience, there is a natural, and sometimes fluid, hierarchy of sorts but this hierarchy does not equate to power. We are all accountable for different areas of the business and as a team, we rely on each other to deliver against those. We have to communicate openly, and we have to commit to each other and to our common purpose of seeing our business succeed, collectively.
So where does this structure leave me? What is my role as a leader in a self-managing business and how do I step away for a year and trust that the business is in safe hands?
To step away from the business, I needed to feel that I’d done everything I could have to assist the team in succeeding over the coming months. I wanted to help build confidence in others, to enable them to feel safe to develop their individual roles and shape the impact they had on the future of the business. I needed to clearly define my responsibilities and work hard to delegate those while I was away. I needed to let go of the daily tasks that had become habitual in my working life and work together with the team to plan for the future, whatever that was going to bring.
As part of trusting others, I needed to accept that the business that I left behind was going to be very different from the one that I returned to. The team that I worked closely with, who have all built a bond with each other, will look after our child, our business. We respect each other, our clients and our suppliers immensely and we approach the challenges we face together. We share information, good and bad, and include others in our decision making, knowing that this process makes us stronger. My colleagues gave me their full trust and support to be emotionally free on my Maternity Leave to give and receive deep joy from this new, and at times scary, new future of being a mother and a Director.
In my time away, I have learnt a huge amount about myself and I have been able to view our business with a new perspective, one that I believe can only be achieved by not being involved day to day. I have witnessed roles evolve and responsibilities grow, and I have seen the hugely positive effect of caring about each other’s wellbeing, of believing in each other’s strengths and helping each other to overcome weaknesses. I have been away for a year and I have returned to a business that continues to establish itself as an extremely inclusive, engaging and rewarding place to work. What more could a mother want?