by Mike Kappel
Republished from Chron, May 7, 2018
Deciding to start your own business takes guts, passion and motivation. Being an entrepreneur shows you aren’t a follower — that you’d rather forge your own path than settle down in a typical 9 to 5 job.
Does being a business owner mean you’re a leader? Not necessarily! Yet, when you have your own business, you must show strong leadership to motivate and inspire your employees. So, even if you aren’t already one, you can and must learn how to become a leader.
Sure, you might manage employees at your business. But, there’s a big difference between managing and leading your staff. Effectively leading your team can increase employee engagement and innovation, drive sales, decrease employee turnover, and boost your business bottom line.
You have the vision of where you want your business to go. Now, all you need to do is inspire your employees to see that vision and work towards achieving it. This can be done through leadership.
Although it might sound daunting, becoming a leader that your employees will respect and admire is possible. Here are some tips for effectively leading your employees.
1. Instill a culture of communication.
Leaders are approachable. Being able to communicate with employees is an important leadership quality. Employees shouldn’t be nervous to come to you with questions. Likewise, you should be direct with employees when things come up in your business.
Let employees know that you are always available to talk. If they have professional or personal problems that are getting in the way of their jobs, lend an ear. Plus, getting to know your employees can help you learn what motivates them.
Leaders are direct, clear and honest with employees. You can foster a culture of communication by conducting semi-annual performance reviews, having regular meetings with employees, and emphasizing that your door is always open. That way, you can keep employees updated on what’s happening in your business, and employees can feel comfortable talking with you.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask employees how they are doing. Show that you are genuinely interested in getting to know them. Little steps toward communicating more effectively with employees can help you hone your leadership skills.
2. Help employees see their purpose.
Leaders help employees understand the company’s mission and vision. As a leader, you need to show employees how their positions fit into achieving your business’s mission and working towards your vision.
You can help employees find meaning in their work by properly training them. Go over their responsibilities in depth, then give a rundown of why their work is important and how it will contribute to your small business growth strategy.
Once employees know their purpose, you might think it’s up to them to engage with their position. But, there are other things you can do to lead and motivate them. You can do this by setting individual or team goals, setting up friendly competitions, or offering incentives.
3. Refuse to micromanage.
Leaders give employees the freedom to come up with innovative ideas or processes on their own. Business leaders must be confident in their hiring decisions so they know that employees are skilled enough to work independently.
Micromanaging is the process of controlling everything employees do. It can demoralize employees, limit creativity, and result in frustrated workers.
At Patriot Software, my managers and I refuse to micromanage employees. Because we are confident in our hiring decisions, we know employees can get the job done on their own. Micromanaging will only waste your time — time you could devote to leading and inspiring your employees!
4. Involve employees in decision making.
Business leaders value what their employees have to say. They recognize that employees are invaluable assets to business growth. Asking employees for input shows that you value and respect their opinions and trust their decisions. It also shows that you are willing to share your leadership role and delegate tasks.
By involving your team in decision making, you show you are willing to listen to ideas. And, it demonstrates that you are enthusiastic about empowering your employees to put their best foot forward.
Leaders are excited to see employees develop. They don’t want to stifle their growth. By delegating tasks and accepting employee input, you show that you are willing to create new leaders in your business. You can involve employees in decision making by distributing employee surveys, asking for suggestions, or even establishing committees where employees can talk freely about their ideas.