Leadership Tips for Small Businesses

Leadership is all about taking people on a journey.

“Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre

Many small business owners struggle with leadership. It’s not a one-size-fits-all function, which often makes it more difficult to grasp. Instead, it’s more of a work in progress; what works for certain team members may not work for others. When it comes to small businesses, effective leadership is critical; it can be the difference between surviving and thriving.

As Sartre says, if you spend all your time rowing, you’ll never find a way to grow.

10 Tips for Prosperous Leadership

    1. Think “family.” You may not be related to your team, but you might as well be. Treat elders with respect, teach new hires life lessons, and understand that everyone needs a little help at some point in their lives. Regardless of your personal feelings, most members of your team work to live – not live to work.
    2. Communicate openly. Every person, no matter what level, needs to know what is going on and feel that he or she has a voice in the room. If your subordinates feel like they can’t speak to you openly, you will probably miss out on great ideas and opportunities.
    3. Trust your team. As an entrepreneur, it may be tough to accept the fact that you can’t do everything yourself. You must allow people to make decisions on their own and give others a chance to lead at times. Mistakes will be made, but they are a requirement for growth.
    4. Strive to be likable. You don’t have to be a Godparent to twenty babies, but the more amiable you are, the more influence you will have. Watch out for things like the tone of your voice, your facial expressions, and your body language when you are communicating to your team.
    5. Get emotionally attached. Great leaders are sensitive to the needs of those around them. Stay in tune to people’s emotions and well-being. The more you know and understand your staff, the better you’ll be able to motivate, teach, and reward them.
    6. Train others. Remember that leaders often come from unexpected places. To be successful yourself, you need to have leaders below you who can make an impact, too.
    7. Be intelligently aggressive. There is a time and place for going after strategic goals, but do it in a way that is deliberate, well-planned, and purposeful.
    8. Stay defensive. Show them that you’ve bought into your mission and you’re committed to it – and them. There’s nothing worse than a leader who doesn’t follow his own motto or doesn’t pull his own weight.
    9. Adapt to your environment. You can practice solid leadership skills anywhere, at any time; all you have to do is tailor your approach to fit the situation.
    10. Escape the confines of your desk. It may seem silly, but leaders who aren’t out there engaging others and learning new things become sluggish and stagnant – words that no business ever wants to embody.

Leadership is all about taking people on a journey. The challenge is that most of the time, we are asking people to follow us to places we ourselves have never been.

Whether you are carving your path for the first time as an entrepreneur or you’ve run a multi-million-dollar company, leadership should be more about putting your employees on display than yourself. You can only get so far without the help – and ideas – of others. The more you show your team that you understand this, the more they’ll be willing to step up to facilitate your goals and dreams.

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