7 Attributes of a Great Small Business Leader
- Have a strong vision and communicate it effectively
A strong vision is essential to good leadership. It should inspire your team to achieve greater things, and your customers to want to work with you. Your vision must be communicated properly and often in order to impact others. As a leader, you need to ensure that everyone – your team, customers, vendors, etc. – know what you expect, what to expect of you, what you stand for, and what you care about.
- Lead by example
Good leaders always lead by example. Chances are, as a small business owner, your business is your passion and you like spending time in the trenches anyway. Your employees see how you work and how you communicate every day. They notice how you handle conflict and other issues. You are a role model for your employees. You cannot have one set of standards for them, but actively display the opposite standards in how you conduct yourself. To build trust, you must hold yourself accountable as you would hold your employees accountable.
When you own your own business, when it’s “your baby”, it’s natural to want to do everything yourself. The truth is you cannot and should not try to do it all on your own. A good leader knows when to delegate responsibilities. After all, you have hired people you trust so you’re not losing control, you’re transferring it to a capable employee with the requisite skills to get the job done. This not only frees up your time to concentrate on other aspects of the business, it’s also a good way to motivate and build the self-esteem of your employees.
- Make time for personal development
Not many leaders, or people in general, possess all the attributes of great leadership. But, while it could be argued that many of these attributes are inherent in great leaders, it is also true that they can be learned. Take the time for self examination. Accept that there are aspects of leadership that you may not possess. Couple that with feedback from your employees, clients, partners, etc., and identify leadership qualities/areas where you could improve. I can almost guarantee you will find a seminar to help you improve.
- Make employees a priority. Recognize achievement
How you treat your employees can really affect the success of your business. If your team is unhappy, operations can suffer. On the other hand, keeping your staff happy and engaged makes them more likely to go that extra mile for your company and your clients. Successful business leaders understand this and make their staff a priority. This involves getting to know each individual and their strengths, listening to their ideas, offering them opportunities for professional growth and training and recognizing their efforts. Recognition of a job well done goes a long way to motivate employees and help them to feel valued. Sometimes a simple “Thank you” or a short note expressing your appreciation is all it takes to motivate employees and help them to feel connected to the success of the business. Celebrating accomplishments encourages employees to continue improving.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate
There’s no point in a great plan if you don’t communicate it effectively. You might have an outstanding vision but it won’t inspire anyone if poorly communicated. Ineffective communication is one of the mistakes made by many leaders, and it can be devastating to a company’s performance. You must communicate clearly and consistently when assigning tasks to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same results. You must provide meaningful, constructive feedback to let employees know what is required to be successful and your expectations for their performance. Remember that communication is a two-way street. Effective leaders are also good listeners. They welcome feedback and ideas from their employees. This gives employees a sense of being valued by the company and builds trust, motivation, teamwork and loyalty.
- Build leadership trust
Trust is a key factor in effective leadership. It takes time to earn the trust of your employees, but it can be lost in the blink of an eye. Once lost, it can be very difficult to rebuild. So, as a leader, you must make a conscious effort each day to create and maintain an environment of trust. This means walking the talk, keeping your promises and holding yourself accountable – honestly and consistently.