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Gather Social Blog

  • Writer's pictureSamuel Evans

How to get out of your own way - an update from the MD

The last 12 months have been some of the most profound of my life. Having completed lockdown alone, crippled by heartache, I had realised that the thing which got me out of bed in the morning was never coming home. Not being allowed out of the house provided me with the perfect smokescreen to pretend that everything was OK. I focused purely on work, and it acted as a mere distraction.

As restrictions eased I had to stare longingly at myself, and admit that I wasn't ok. I was a mess behind the fortunate curtain of a business. I had been in hiding from the world, too wounded to let anyone see, let alone let anyone in.

Then came the invitation to a party. A party filled with lifelong friends and family. This would be my first solo gig in nearly 10 years. With people who would stare through my facade in a heartbeat.

Needless to say, I survived the party, with only one late emotional breakdown - I blamed the wine! My friends encouraged me to go home to Ibiza and take some time off. Fuck me. A solo holiday - the first in 15 years. Luckily, two of the best friends a human could ask for flew out and joined me on my birthday, and we had the greatest time. It was only when they went home, that I was truly alone.

Next came a nervous couple of hours bored out of my mind in the hotel, crippled with anxiety about doing anything. Ended with a chance conversation with one of the hotel staff, which lead me to get out of my own way.

She enquired how I was and what my plans were, to which I embarrassingly said I don't have any. For the first time in a long time, I let someone help me, and the overall result materialised 12 months later. I put my holiday in her hands. She simply asked me what I liked doing, and then sent me an email 30 mins later with an entire itinerary for the rest of my stay.

I had an absolute blast, and it wasn't the epic bender I was worried about. Sipping cold cans of San Miguel sitting on a towel watching the sun go down. It was so great. I was only in the UK for five mins and I had already booked to go back. However, the second trip was different, I didn't need any help. I had gotten out of my own way and managed to move forward, toward a better life, outside a toxic relationship.

How does this relate to work and my job as the Managing Director at Gather Social? Simple, if I was getting in my own way, was I must have been getting in the way of others?

I realised that for Gather Social to grow and be a happier healthier workplace, more of the team needed to be allowed to take responsibility and learn the more complex components of social media marketing. Talking to individual members of the team, it was obvious they felt they could do more, and more importantly, wanted to do more. The only thing standing in their way was me and the current business structure.

Learning from personal experiences and interjecting life lessons into your leadership style taught me the value of looking at the wider perspective of businesses' health and happiness. Like my personal journey, the results weren't instantaneous, and not everyone agreed with upskilling more of the team.

Fast forward 8 months and the business is unrecognisable. The team have all had a 45% pay rise, in line with them taking on more responsibility. They have the freedom to make their own choices about when and where they work. Holidays are easier to book, and people don't have to ask permission to conduct life admin. Our work-from-anywhere policy had been developed around those who commute the furthest to try and minimise the cost of soaring petrol prices and allow the team to live more of a life outside the day job.

There have of course been casualties along the way. This was additional learning for me as a leader but is something which I am now passing down to my incredible team.

If you want to do more, first you have to get out of your own way. Encourage others to do more, and over time, you will be freed up to do more. Those against the wider upskilling of more team members are focused on what's in it for them and not what's in it for the collective health of the entire business.

Want to learn more about Sam and his story of founding Gather Social? Click here to learn more. Are you interested in a career at Gather Social? Click here to apply now.

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