Congratulations! You own your own business – perhaps a dream you’ve had since you were 10 years old. I bet you remember saying to yourself, "One day, I'll own my own business!"
But when you thought of owning your own business, your thoughts probably centered on the type of business you'd be starting. You dreamed of launching your own restaurant or construction company or taking over the family insurance company. You thought about how to make money and how to survive while ramping up. And how to run the business better and faster than your competition. You probably weren’t focused on the people that would be working for you or what type of leader you'd be.
You’ve probably proven yourself to be a successful business owner...but have you proven yourself to be an effective leader?
Here's how you can find out. Take a few minutes and think about how much you agree with these statements:
I am happy going to work every day and enjoy the people I hired to work with me?
I have created a positive environment for myself and my employees?
My employees feel comfortable coming to me with questions or problems? I know this for sure because…
I have developed the best focus for the business, myself and my employees?
I really have the right people working in my business?
I am using the strengths and talents of my people in ways that really let’s them shine and gets the best results for my business
If you agreed completely with most of these questions, then you've become a pretty effective leader. But what if you didn’t agree completely or you weren't sure? Don't feel bad--you're simply a business owner who needs a little assistance growing as a leader – and many do!
It's very easy to get caught up being the business owner and forget about the importance of being an effective leader in your business. Daily details can bog you down to the point where you forget that your employees need your time and attention--and need the guidance that only you, as the business owner, can give them.
Think you could use a little help to become a better leader of people? Here are a few helpful hints to get you started:
Ensure that you, as the business leader, and your employees know the strategic focus of the company and how to articulate it clearly and simply to anyone. Practice together often to be sure people are ready when the opportunity arises to talk about your business.
As the leader, you need to help your employees see how their position relates to your company's strategic focus and tell them often how important their particular abilities and tasks are in achieving that focus--not just their position.
If you catch your employees doing something right, let them know. Recognition goes a long way toward building a loyal workforce.
Communicate with everyone in your company in a variety of ways on a regular basis, not just every now and then. Start holding weekly staff meetings, initiate individual conversations with your employees, start an internal newsletter or launch a monthly contest. There are dozens of ways to keep the lines of communication open.
Create a sense of pride in your employees by asking them for their opinions--when it’s appropriate. Even if you don't always use their ideas, they'll really appreciate just being asked.
If you give bonuses for strong performance, try giving something more personal than cash. Know what your employees hobbies and interests are in their time off. Instead of giving a $1,000 bonus (which they will undoubtedly use to pay bills), send your hiking hobbyist on a vacation for two to a beautiful cabin next to spectacular hiking trails. They'll remember these gestures much longer than a standard bonus and think of you fondly when they do.
When it comes to your emotions, remember to respond to your employees rather than react to them. If an employee comes to you and says the numbers are off by $50,000 and you react by saying, "What? Are you crazy! How could that be??" that employee is not going to want to share information with you next time around. But if you respond by saying, "Help me to understand how you arrived at that number," you show genuine concern and your employees will believe that you're there to help.
Remember, becoming a great leader is a learning process that never ends. Great leaders enjoy the challenges and the lessons learned--even when they're painful.
The type of leader you wish to become is entirely up to you. But if you want to learn to become a great leader:
Be aware of where you are today as a leader. Do you need to take action to improve your leadership skills?
Be open to critical self-assessment when it comes to your leadership skills.
Be willing to grow personally and professionally by learning new skills. Hire a business coach, a leadership trainer or find a mentor.
You’ve come a long way in making your dream of being a business owner a success. If you need help being a successful leader and keeping your dream thriving, contact Joy today. She can provide you with the tools you need to turn your employees into inspired, engaged and motivated brand ambassadors for your business.