One of the biggest drivers of success in businesses big or small is having strong leadership. But, for many in the small business community and those entrepreneurs just starting out, their expertise may be in pie-making, consulting or dancing, which does not necessarily translate into effective leadership. So, if most of your leadership experience comes from leading the conga line in your dance studio, here are 4 easy ways that you can improve your leadership skills:
(1) Set the Standard
We’ve all heard the saying “Do as I say, not as I do”. But, if this is the method by which you lead your team, you are in for a bumpy business ride. As the leader or business owner, what you do sets the tone, standard and culture for what your employees will do. So, if you are showing up late, gossiping about customers or co-workers, and surfing for cat photos during work time, that is what your employees see as acceptable and you can bet that they will do that too. As the leader, no one should care more about your business or work harder than you. So, keep your actions at work productive, positive and professional. If you set a high standard, you will be amazed at how your attitude and work ethic will trickle down to your staff.
(2) Get it in Writing
People are busier than ever (and more distracted than ever), which can be a recipe for disaster in your business. This can lead to unnecessary miscommunications and misunderstandings, which can derail projects, cause massive frustration, and even cost your business financially through inefficiency and having to redo work. So, to make sure that everyone is on the same page, you should write out the steps for every aspect of a project or task that needs to be completed, who is responsible for what and the deadline, if necessary. As the leader, you should write it out in as clear and direct of a manner as possible, to minimize any misinterpretations. This may be a little bit more work upfront, but in the end, it will definitely make your job as a leader much easier and make your business run much more smoothly.
(3) Boost Their Confidence
There is a natural tendency to want to point out when someone is doing something wrong or badly, but often times, we neglect to tell people when they are doing a good job. As the leader, it is your job to foster an environment that brings out the best in employees and nothing works better than acknowledgement and praise. This doesn’t mean that you have to throw a parade every time an employee does what they are supposed to do or that you should freely toss compliments around when they aren’t deserved, because then, they become meaningless. But, making sure that your employees know that you value their contributions and that their work is appreciated will create a more empowered staff, which will lead to increased productivity and success- a win for everyone!
(4) Listen Up
One of the most underutilized skills in being a great leader is listening. I see a lot of business owners that have a “my way or the highway” mentality. And while as the leader, it’s ultimately your responsibility to make decisions, your staff may have a different perspective or unique solutions that you hadn’t thought of before. Since they are often the ones dealing directly with your customers day in and day out, they can be a very useful source for problem-solving, so listen to them! When your staff feels like their ideas and contributions are valued, it will empower them and make them feel more invested in the success of your business.
What other tips do you have for being a better leader? Please share them below.
Thanks to Randy Ganther of Randy Ganther’s Maximum Success, Tony Marren of OPERATION JUST ONE CAN, Jim Newman of CF Geographics LLC, and W. Michael King, Ph.D. of W. Michael King, Ph.D. Exec Coach for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.