Written by Live Oak Bank
Small businesses with positive leadership roles are more likely to have effective management, rewarding cultures and productive teams. Although some individuals have natural talent and excellent leadership skills, all business owners and managers can learn to become better leaders. In order to drive the success of your business, make sure you fulfill the following critical roles of a leader.
Provide a Vision
Providing a vision for the team is the single most important role of the small business owner. Employees cannot be expected to participate in a common effort if they don’t know the goals of the business. When team members understand the vision and goals, they are more focused and understand how their individual role helps to drive the success of the business.
Establish Effective Organizational Structure and Communication Protocols
Set up a clearly defined organizational structure which includes an organizational chart outlining the chain of command and protocols for effective communication. Employees need to understand who they report to when they have questions or concerns. To facilitate effective communication and efficiency, develop communication protocols. It can be helpful to use multiple channels like email and teams chat groups to augment one-on-one communication and staff meeting interactions. The type of communication method utilized should be appropriate for the content of the message. Memos are fine to convey announcements and information on minor issues. Face-to-face meetings are necessary to discuss important issues or convey information that is sensitive or may result in questions.
Be an Effective Role Model
Demonstrate the behavior desired from the rest of the team. Business owners that display outbursts of anger, make snap decisions with no regard to the potential outcome for the staff, demonstrate uncaring attitudes, show favoritism for some employees, withhold information from the staff, procrastinate on important decisions, tolerate lack of accountability, demonstrate inconsistencies in client service or fail to listen to their employees will not be as respected by the team and likely will not be as successful in achieving their business goals.
Inspire and Motivate
One definition of leadership is to “inspire, influence and guide others to participate in a common effort.” Good leaders don’t just bark orders or hand out directives with no explanation. Instead, they use effective communication and motivation techniques to facilitate action by their teams. Leaders that inspire and motivate their teams solicit input from employees, keep team members informed, give timely and specific feedback regarding job performance, ensure training needs are met and hold employees accountable.
Delegate and Empower
Good leaders surround themselves with the right people in the right jobs. This facilitates being able to lead rather than manage. A small business owner can begin the process of effective delegation and empowerment with their management level team. As a leader, you can focus on the strategic vision of your business. When you’re able to delegate tasks to those who are best aligned to that specific skillset, you’re creating an environment conducive to learning and growth.
Effective Time Management
Part of being an effective leader includes time management. If you spend most of your time fielding complaints and reacting to problems, this may be a sign that you are not delegating effectively or empowering team members. Explore resources on time management and create action steps to improve. Some attributes of efficient time management include eliminating distractions, prioritizing tasks with a to-do list, holding effective meetings, including breaks to re-fuel your brain and body and outsourcing tasks that others can help with.
Small businesses require great leadership. As a small business owner, focus on these best practices to improve employee retention and drive long-term success. Set the right tone with your actions and lead by example – your business will be better for it.