For me, 2021 started with Covid. Not an auspicious start for sure! My team stepped up big time as I was down for about 5 weeks. My absence bonded them together in all the best ways. Not that they didn’t need me but that they had the tools to continue with me on the sidelines.

Here’s the silver lining… it set me on a path to be an impactful leader. I wanted to ensure that my team continued to have the tools they needed to be successful and if they didn’t, they knew that could reach out for help. I began to read and follow people who wanted to talk about leadership and business ownership in a new way. I was all in and decided to practice what I was reading and hearing to shift my thinking. While I may not have always been 100% successful, I had a lot of growth personally in 2021. But was this personal growth impacting my team in the best possible way? That remained to be seen as the year unfolded.

Here are some of the ways in which I shifted my perspective. I realized fully that I needed to embrace a traditional role reversal. My team did not work for me but I, in fact, worked for them. For all of us to succeed, I had to be there for them. I needed to get to know them, what they needed to be successful and how to continue to support them to meet their needs. After all, they do the actual work that supports our company.

I had to create an environment and culture that made them want to “come to work” every day even on the tough ones. I had to continue to be present, to engage at a high level and to validate their hard work on a consistent basis. I learned not to assume they knew they were doing a good job but to tell them..and then tell them again!

I got to really know my team of 25+, not just employees but as people with lives outside of RSDA. I realized the devotion they had for our company and each other even when faced with their own personal issues. We got to laugh together and support each other during difficult times. I truly believe this may not have happened to the degree it did without my personal epiphany.

So, as we see 2021 in the rear-view mirror, I want to share that I believe it worked! Not only did we see financial success as a company, but we bonded as a team. The messages I received at holiday time were inspiring. The generosity of my team with gift giving to me was humbling. They work their butts off each and every day and for that I am grateful. I am committed to continuing on this path so that in 2022 we can build on what we have accomplished, and I encourage you, my fellow business owners, to take a look at your culture. Would a shift in thinking make a big impact on your business? If you ask me, it’s worth a try.

So, a sincere thanks to the best team around for making me want to come to work every day…even on the tough ones!

-Nancy Kagan

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