Leadership Mastery: 6 essential small business leadership skillsStuart Taverner
Small business leadership is challenging. You’ve carved out your niche, got some money coming in, and just made your first hire. Soon enough, they’ll be looking to you for guidance, inspiration, and motivation to achieve bigger and better for the business, and for themselves.
The thing is, not everybody is a natural born leader.
However, it’s possible to learn a tonne of powerful leadership skills. The ability to listen, communicate clearly, plan efficiently, and delegate, are all important traits of a good leader and should be applied to your business practices, whether you have 1 or 100 employees.
So, what does it take to be an effective small business leader? We’ve compiled 6 focus areas for you to transform your leadership game.
An effective method of fostering a well-functioning team is transparent communication. In business, there’s nothing worse than a team that feels out of the loop and disengaged. Provide your staff with regular situation reports and clearly define expectations.
Share the bigger picture. Make them aware of how they fit in with the overall goals of your small business and outline your vision with their input.
Leadership is listening
There’s a fine line between a leader and a dictator. Mastering small business leadership is about listening, without judgment, to those who are experts in their role – that’s why you hired them. When you listen to your employees and customers, you may hear some great ideas and insights that will help you to improve your business.
Know your weaknesses
Successful small business leadership requires an understanding of your weaknesses. Once identified, find the skills gap and surround yourself with talented people who have can fill those gaps.
But, here stands the question, how do you identify your weaknesses?
Be as self-aware as possible and assess your failures. It would be wonderful to say, “Optimum self-awareness comes from reflection and deep thinking”. The thing is, you need outside help. Find yourself a truth teller. Find somebody you trust, who has no stake in the game and will share honest, unfiltered feedback.
The importance of delegation
Surrounding yourself with smart, talented people is pointless if you don’t let them do their job. Of course, this flaw is natural; your business feels like your baby. But, if you never give up control, it will never grow to its full potential.
You’re at the stage now where your job is to shape the ideas and creativity of your team into something that puts your business on its best path. Stop dictating and start nurturing. Pass on some of those tasks you’ve been doing from the beginning and free up your time for some big picture thinking.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
It’s impossible to become successful in small business leadership without making mistakes. A great leader understands that people make mistakes sometimes, that’s just part of being an entrepreneur. How we learn and bounce back from those mistakes is what’s important.
It’s essential to learn from mistakes and refrain from repeating them. If it keeps happening, it’s no longer a mistake, but a decision. The essence of inspiring leadership is risk taking and mistakes are among the greatest teachers. Committing yourself to understanding them, is an excellent method of self-education.
Taking risks is freeing yourself to make mistakes; leadership, is learning from them.
Small business leaders need to look forward
Do you have a 5-year business plan? Or even a 10-year business strategy? Can you answer the question, “Where are we going?”
A good leader is constantly looking toward the future. They are incredibly curious about internal and external trends and obsessed with business growth. Work out what you want for your business and plan how you are going to meet your goals. This will give you the time to check in with what you want as a leader, but also give you the ability to engage your team in the path towards a better future.
Small business leadership is not something you can learn overnight. It takes time. It requires the freedom to learn from mistakes and time to reflect on what matters to you and your business, while being sincerely enthusiastic with your team and allowing them to do their job.
Best of luck!