You might have what it takes to launch and run a small business. But do you have what it takes to lead your team? Here are three leadership qualities all entrepreneurs should strive to achieve throughout the year.
This one is harder than it sounds. When you run a busy business with lots of customers and a large staff, listening to concerns, complaints and ideas can seem like a waste of valuable time. However, business owners and bosses who are great leaders listen to those they lead as well as their customers. Listening can help you discover good ideas to improve your business. Pro tip: When you get ideas from someone, be sure to give credit and thanks. Showing gratitude improves your relationship with customers and team members and is another important trait of a good leader. Review these 3 kinds of listeners and strive to be an active listener.
1) Over-Listener: The over-listener attempts to act on advice before considering all of the details. Carefully consider what you’ve learned by listening to determine if the information makes good business sense.
2) Under-Listener: Under-listeners can be stubborn and believe that it’s their way or the highway. Under-listeners will not heed valuable advice even if things are going downhill. If multiple customers or employees complain, pay attention. Ignoring input and advice from customers and employees is a recipe for disaster.
3) Active-Listener: Engage in feedback, ask good questions and know when to you gently ignore advice that isn’t helpful. An active-listener knows how to identify and act on valuable input.
Delegating is another trait that sounds a lot easier than it is. Your business is your baby. Turning over key responsibilities can cause the most accomplished business owner to feel anxiety. Surrounding yourself with talented team members is pointless if you don’t let them perform. Let your team do the things they do best. According to Mind Tools, these are steps to follow to help you delegate.
- Clearly articulate the desired outcome.
- Clearly identify constraints and boundaries.
- Include employees in the delegation process when possible.
- Match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority.
Author Bathsheba Dailey has a quote that applies to small business owners: You cannot move forward if you’re always thinking backwards. A leader striving for success is always looking ahead and planning for the future.
Experts agree that the best way to plan for the future of a small business is to have a robust business plan. A business plan outlines where you want your company to be 1 year, 5 years or 10 years from now. Putting a plan down on paper can be intimidating. Luckily, there are lots of resources out there that can help you craft a workable business plan. The Small Business Administration website has a tool to help you create a business plan. Additionally, the SCORE organization offers free business mentoring. Working with a mentor can be a big help as you craft your plan.
Need more information? American Express has created this infographic packed with actionable advice about developing your leadership presence.
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