Leadership Qualities of Successful Small Business Owners

Even though you run a small business, that doesn’t mean that you have to think small. While many entrepreneurs of small businesses may not feel the need to have a management degree, there are still essential qualities and skills that go into running a company. In addition to having a promising idea and a vision for your business, you need to have strong interpersonal skills and an ability to garner support while remaining in control at all times. There is a significant combination of personal and professional qualities that go into making a strong manager, and with a few pointers, you can create a team that will deliver for your company.

The Vision Thing

People often use the term “visionary” as a synonym for “leader.” While there may be solitary figures in history who have had a unique vision, if their vision was valuable to society at large, sooner or later, they ended up with a significant following. When you set up your business, you were not just thinking about next quarter or next year, but five or ten years down the road. You may have also been thinking about what kind of reach you wanted your brand to achieve and how many customers would use your product. You may not ultimately achieve all of these goals, but having a clear view out to the future will help you be the kind of leader your employees will want to follow.

Choose the Best

When you run across an intelligent, motivated person who is on the lookout for their next project or opportunity, consider hiring them or at least using their services. Talent is as much a raw material as the right kind of plastic is to a toy manufacturer or metal to an automaker. If you keep hiring people who are not up for the job, explore several possible reasons for this tendency. Perhaps you worry that a highly talented and motivated individual will intimidate your other employees or offer unsolicited suggestions on how to run the business. Put these concerns to rest with the notion that ultimately, talent is what your company needs and these other problems are likely to take care of themselves. After all, great leaders make those in subordinate positions leaders as well.

Communication Is Key

You don’t need to be a marriage counselor to know that communication is at the heart of successful relationships, and this is true of professional connections as well as the relationships in your home. Maintaining communication with your staff is a way of helping them to feel comfortable around you and to boost morale. Listen carefully to your employee’s concerns, even if you don’t feel you are able to act on their feedback right away. If your employees feel eager to speak, you can more carefully keep tabs on what is going on in the company. Successful executives such as Donald Gayhardt know how to keep an almost collegial type of connection in a company and at the same time, build a team that is highly motivated and achieves results.

Give Motivation with Criticism

Giving needed criticism is like applying alcohol to an open wound. It may sting a little bit and cause discomfort but ultimately, is essential for health. Know how to apply criticism carefully in a way that it will be heeded and in a manner that will not cause anxiety, but will encourage greater efficiency. If you want to tell your team how they can improve, address them as a group without singling out individuals. Start out with good news and praise for things they have done well before bringing up things that need to be improved.
When possible, use only positive language, and think of yourself as a coach addressing a team rather than a principal scolding an unruly classroom of third graders. Give carrots rather than sticks and positively enforce productivity and efficiency rather than drawing attention to lapses at every opportunity.

Work Together

The reason you should share your vision and long and short-term goals with your employees is not simply that they should be informed, but so they will feel like a team working together to achieve gains for the company. It shouldn’t be the case that you are at the head and are using the services of the employees to get what you want, but that you and your team are an organic unit working together to achieve the shared success. One way to do this is to create rewards for the entire company for achieving certain milestones so that your company’s success is also their success. Consider rewarding bonuses, have a company-wide vacation or other activities that involve everyone who contributed to the positive achievement.

Personal and Professional Success

Running a small business is not just about having a stellar idea and building the foundations underneath it. The success of a business lies in those involved in the day-to-day tasks that contribute to the end result. Building a team is an important skill every business leader should make a primary priority and will make working towards your goals pleasant for all as well as financially rewarding.


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