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How to empower your team in a competitive market

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.

Innovation has become fundamental in highly saturated industries, driving the need for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. The strength of a business in a competitive industry comes from the power and unity of every team member working together to continually evolve, capitalize on progress and acknowledge positive changes.

Standing out in a competitive market is about more than just the product; it's about the people. Being a strong leader comes from championing your team – locally and globally – with exciting experiences and opportunities that increase motivation. It's one of the pillars of success for my executive team at Lightspeed, and an empowering motto for growing companies.

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Here is what I've learned about strengthening a growing team and company in a changing industry:

Put your customers first

As a leader, it's incredible to watch your team truly make an impact in your industry. I've seen firsthand what independent businesses are capable of when given the tools to thrive with the same power, control and agility as other businesses 10 times their size. Service teams should be an extension of the independent businesses they work with and a partner in their growth.

I've found that the best way to learn is to listen, and customer communication should always be a top priority. As we grow and develop in business, the mission doesn't have to change but the products can, making customers realize that you and your teams are hearing them out and you're adapting to their needs long-term.

These customers then become champions of your brand, and their satisfaction is essential in making your business stand out from your competitors – especially in a service-based industry.

Embrace reinvention, nurture ownership

In the course of my career, I learned that the ability to reinvent the company was paramount in keeping up with what the business needed to stay relevant. From 2012 to now, Lightspeed has gone from 50 employees to 500, and every year I was faced with the opportunity to reinvent my role as a leader in order to adapt to this progress and harness the explosive energy from everyone's ideas.

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As the business grows, you realize you can't be everywhere all the time. Giving your employees ownership of what they do becomes key to the company's success and ultimately empowers your teams in their areas of the business. New hires thrive most when they're given a strong sense of ownership over their work, and the benefits translate to strong relationships between your employees and your customers, encouraging new inspirations and ideas that contribute to maintaining your company's competitive edge.

Celebrate small wins

When you have a company that grows and moves quickly, it is inevitable that you'll both build things and break things. It's important to not only rejoice in the successes but also to support the setbacks. Recovering and learning from each experience is a key part of fostering a strong company culture. After all the effort you watch your team put into the things they build, it's vital as a leader to celebrate even the smallest wins, and take the time to recognize how each move contributes the bigger picture.

Develop a supportive company culture

Company culture can't be built overnight – as a leader, you have to consistently be open to changes with a globally expanding company. As Lightspeed grew from our bilingual home base in Montreal to eight offices around the world, we recognized that each team is going to have its own unique culture. Connectivity within your teams becomes key to bringing talent together from all different areas, and it's a full-time job leading the cultural bridge between different people within the company. Diverse workspaces make it especially important to meet employees at every level and make people feel they can do the best work of their lives, while equally contributing to the company's goals and successes in a meaningful way. Lightspeed, I often like to say, is a company infused with culture just as much as code.

Dax Dasilva is the founder and CEO of Lightspeed, headquartered in Montreal. Lightspeed is the world's most powerful cloud-based POS system. Find him on Twitter @daxdasilva @LightspeedHQ

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