A CEO or business owner must exhibit leadership skills that inspire employees and generate results. As the person everyone looks to for guidance and a paycheck, you will often walk a fine line; you shouldn’t aim to be your employees’ buddy, nor will you stay in business by being a slave driver.
I’m entering my 14th year as a business owner and my 20th year in practice, and I can definitively point to some leadership skills that will always prove effective in good times and bad. Hone in on them and adapt accordingly.
Communication Is Key
The best leaders are the best communicators. Relay your thoughts and expectations to your employees, even if you think they’re already in the know. “I need this done by Tuesday before you go, because the client needs it for the following morning’s audit,” is direct and polite. If there are finer points to convey, email it so that the employee doesn’t have to ask you to elaborate. Be sure also to NEVER TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS – it’s just unnecessary unless you’re congratulating someone. I’ve advised book-smart and well-intentioned CEOs who couldn’t clearly convey their thoughts. Their businesses suffered as a result.
Small business owners are in a really tough spot, because unlike a regular W-2 employee, you’re not just cashing a check. Practically every move you make affects your ability to keep the lights on, which can in turn (de)stabilize the roof over your head. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by unhappy clients, looming deadlines and close calls. Your conduct in those times will be noticed by everyone with whom you’re involved.
Keeping your composure and staying positive as much as possible will work wonders for you and show that you can “stand tall” (and nearly every other cliché). Don’t be delusional – if there’s a problem, work on fixing it but try not to exude feelings of panic. Employees and clients notice those critical moments. Feeling positive and acting positively can make these situations literally and figuratively pay off.
Take Time To Train
Success and peace of mind stem from training. As a small business owner with my name on the front door, I make it a point to personally train employees. I started at an accounting firm filled with bad managers. Between those who only looked out for number one, the combustible ones and the cold fish, I quickly learned to swim. Now I try to lead the school of fish I call my associates, because they need to know where and how to spot the sharks, nets and sticks of dynamite. My business cannot survive without their working knowledge.
There will be days where you’re more Mr. Burns than Leslie Knope, but taking the time to identify and improve your leadership skills is the basis for any successful business.
Contact Brinen & Associates to discuss your business needs and comment below with your leadership theories.