Are You the Leader Your Team Needs?
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
The secret to a successful business is having the right team behind you. From a charismatic sales team to detail-oriented administrative support, each person does their part to keep your business running and profitable. However, even if you take your time processing each application and conducting thorough interviews, even the most well-assembled team will struggle without good leadership.
As The Business Owner, Should You Lead?
A key trait of being a good boss and business owner is the ability to recognize one’s own shortcomings. No one person can handle it all on their own, and even if you think you can doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes the best thing you can do to help your business thrive is to take a step back and reassess your own level of involvement and approach to leadership.
For small business owners just starting up or entrepreneurs with a specific vision, giving up the reins can feel counterintuitive. It’s not. We often lose the bigger picture by focusing too closely on the tiny details. If you find yourself constantly putting out fires or failing to see results despite your best efforts, it may be time to look into why.
Does Your Role as the Owner Contribute to Team Dysfunction?
Small business ownership often hinges on learning as you go and making adjustments to keep your business afloat and on the right path. Common challenges like material sourcing or marketing efforts are easy enough to anticipate, but problems such as high employee turnover or dissatisfaction may take a bit more digging.
Being a good leader means recognizing your own role in the dysfunction. What is it about you and your leadership style that is causing or allowing for the challenges you’re facing? Are you too lenient and accommodating, leading you or other staff members to shoulder more than their fair share of the work? Are your business goals clear, reasonable, and achievable? Is your team comfortable enough to approach you about concerns or with ideas for improvement? Do you trust their ability to run your business in your absence?
Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Sometimes an external perspective can shine a light on things we don’t realize are a problem or a harmful habit ourselves.
How Can You Improve Your Leadership Skills as a Business Owner?
Defining Core Values
It’s impossible to lead when you don’t have a clear vision of where you’re going. While there are some things we can learn along the way, figuring out the core values for your business is necessary to nail down early on.
A few core values that apply across most industries include:
Exploration and advancement
These values are the heart of your business and should inform your leadership style, employment decisions, and business planning.
Effective Communication and Problem Solving
Beyond having a clear view of your businesses’ goals and values, good leadership relies on effective communication and problem-solving skills. Being able to clearly express your expectations to your team without anyone feeling ostracized, condescended to, or intimidated is key to keeping everyone on the same page. The same is true when it comes to providing feedback as part of an annual evaluation or corrective measures.
Some of the most important skills for effective communication in the workplace are:
Listening: hear your team members out and listen to comprehend, not to react. Take a moment to process the information provided and give a thoughtful response as necessary.
Clarity and Concision: while some instinctively speak in a passive manner, doing so may lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. Be clear in your message without being abrasive.
Empathy: your team members are still people. Even the best employees have bad days, try to be understanding and empathetic toward the external factors that may be at play when someone isn’t performing at their best. Take the time to have a conversation to figure out the source; it will help you keep a valuable employee and encourage their own loyalty to your business.
Medium: while it may be easiest to send a mass email or write a post in the communal breakroom to disseminate information throughout your team, sometimes an in-person meeting or conference call is the best way to announce changes or discuss the next steps. E-mails and postings can come across as impersonal and final in a way that makes staff members feel unheard or powerless.
How Can You Play to Your Team’s Strengths As a Leader?
Not everyone is suited to be a leader. As business owners, recognizing when you need to hire someone with specific strengths to fill a role is paramount to your success. The same is true when it comes to leadership. Finding someone with more experience or a more natural acclimation to leadership can help your business reach the next level. And sometimes, the best person for the job is already on your team.
Promoting from within has a number of benefits. When employees feel like there is a chance for growth within a company they are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Promotions and recognition for their contributions encourage loyalty and increased effort and productivity. When we reward our team, they return that investment back to the company.
Let’s start the con