You might not consider yourself a natural leader, but, ready or not, as an entrepreneur or small business owner, you need to step into that leadership role. Your ability to effectively guide the direction of your business is critical if you want your business to grow in a competitive business arena.
Here are nine quick and dirty (but successful!) suggestions for nurturing your inner leader:
Ask for feedback
Ditch the idea that you’re going to nail this part of the job out of the gate. No leader gets it right every day, all the time. As you bring on new team members, you’re going to have to think about your company culture. And the basis for that starts with you. Think about what tone you want to set for your team. For your business as a whole. Your leadership style will dictate the results you get from them—and will contribute to the way everyone outside your company sees your brand. Check in with your team from time-to-time to see what’s working and what’s not. Asking for feedback helps you pinpoint the parts of your leadership style that might need some fine-tuning.
You need people on your team to support you. Do you know when everyone’s birthday is? Or whether they’ve got something special planned for the weekend? Caring enough about your team to find out about their lives makes you a better leader. Take private notes on your team and key contacts on your project management system, on social media or in a private document so you can keep track of important details.
Open your mind to new possibilities
You should embrace continuous improvement as a process and always be open to new ideas and opportunities. The phrase “but I’ve always done it like that” needs to be banished from your vocabulary. Try listening to a random podcast, taking a new drive home from the gym or asking for new book recommendations from your social media network. Switching things up like this can open you up to new ideas.
Look for opportunities to learn
As an entrepreneur, you know how important it is to commit to ongoing learning to improve your business. Whether you decide to go through a course through SBA or another small business resource, or just make reading educational business blogs like this one a weekly activity—learning is essential!
Know when to delegate
New leaders often struggle to ask other people to take on work they think should be their responsibility. However, without mastering the art of delegation you’ll end up bogged down in the minutiae of your business and missing out on the big picture. Delegating not only frees up your time to concentrate on business boosting tactics, it also empowers your team, and that’s a fantastically positive leadership technique.
Work with your strengths
Knowing your strengths is so important—they’re what got you to where you are today, and will get you even further as a leader if you nurture them. Focus on the things you’re amazing at and always strive to put them to good use!
Recognize your weaknesses
Of course, the opposite side to working with your strengths is recognizing your weaknesses—and we all have them! Get real about yours and work on those aspects of leadership you find most challenging.
There are always going to be bad days, maybe a big deal fell through or your business is facing a crisis. While it’s natural to have a negative reaction, it’s important that as a leader you try to keep your composure and try to stay positive for your team.
Lead by example
Using “do as I say, not as I do” as a leadership style is bound for failure, and this doesn’t just mean sticking to your own rules and regulations. There’s an old saying that “managers do things right, but leaders do the right thing.” Don’t be afraid to take risks, leading your team by doing the right thing. Act as an example!
True leadership is always a learning experience, so keep in mind that great leaders are shaped over time. Following these tips to boost your leadership skills will increase your own confidence as well as strengthening team relationships.