Whether you have 1 or 100 employees, strong leadership qualities are important to businesses of any size. Successful leadership ensures higher employee satisfaction, which in turn increases loyalty, teamwork, and higher personal and organizational productivity. Unfortunately, “business owner” isn’t synonymous with “great business leader.” You’re already a business owner but do you possess the skills to become a successful leader?
12 Qualities that make a Great Leader
1. Build relationships
Acknowledge the human side of the workplace. Successful leadership requires recognition of employees’ needs. How does a decision affect the team? This doesn’t mean lack of concern with accomplishing tasks. Rather, it portrays an understanding that high quality gain depends on an open and supportive environment.
2. Set actionable, attainable and measurable goals
Goal setting is an essential leadership style. No matter if you just started or already build an empire, business and leadership success depends on setting and achieving goals. A target aim increases work productivity and satisfaction. Setting clear deadlines, such as Thursday 5 pm, benefit employees more than saying, “Let me know whenever your work is done.”
3. Open communication
Qualities that make a great leader include communicating expectations. Talk to your employees; where do they function well and where should they improve? Most employees recognize their own personal strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. In order to have open communication between your employees and yourself, have casual conversations to create a comfortable work environment for people to speak their minds. Employees want to feel like their boss listens and takes them seriously. The best leaders happen to be great listeners.
4. Use constructive criticism
Giving essential criticism is like visiting the dentist for a cavity. It may be unpleasant, but is necessary to move forward and be resolved. Apply criticism like a dentist fills a cavity: careful but efficient. After all, no one wants to visit a painful dentist and absolutely no one wants to work for a mean boss. Yelling at employees only causes anxiety and may even hurt work productivity. Intimidating and threatening are not attributes of a leader. Instead, limit the dialogue to positive language. Start with good news and then mention what needs improvement. It may be beneficial to hold either personal conversations or group conversations without singling out people. You’re a coach not a principal.
5. Know what’s happening on the work floor
Show interest in your employees’ work. This leadership style allows you to closely monitor what’s happening inside the company. Listen to employees’ concerns. Are there any problems between coworkers that need to be resolved? If so, tackle the problem before it becomes a major issue.
6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Even the best leaders make mistakes, we all do. First, understand that mistakes happen and own up to them. Pointing the finger to a low-level employee hurts your authority in the company and lacks responsibility. Second, state the seriousness of the problem. You don’t want people asking, “Do you realize how serious this is?” after your attempt to minimize the issue. Third, listen to input. You might think, “I’m responsible and need to fix this.” This logic is similar to trying to glue a vase back together after you broke it, so your parents won’t find out. Successful leadership is open. Listen to other people to arrive at the best solution. Last, set an example for the future. When employees witness the boss handling mistakes with responsibility and care, they are likely to do the same. Don’t forget, admitting mistakes humanizes you and shows great leadership qualities.
7. Create a talented team
Consider employees’ talents just as important to your company as a designer considers high quality fabric to be crucial. Select the best of the best. Traits of business leaders include knowing your personal strengths and weaknesses. Surround yourself with individuals who possess the skills you lack. Don’t fear smart and ambitious people; they are on your team! Assembling the best workforce possible with hard working individuals shows true leadership qualities.
8. Delegate the work
You hire people because it is impossible to have a successful business with the only employee being yourself. Why create a talented team if you won’t allow them to execute the job? Your company is precious, but small business owner leadership skills require giving up a little bit of control and trusting employees.
9. Visualize the future
The best leaders are strategic planners. However, less than 10% of leaders demonstrate strong strategic thinking and planning skills. Successful leaders envision the company in five years. Stop looking at business from a day-to-day perspective and start anticipating growth. Creating future plans prevents business from remaining stagnant. Inaction kills a company.
10. Share your vision
Once you start foreseeing where your company will be in the years to come, share long-term goals with employees. They are the key to turning this vision into a reality, since your success is also theirs. Moreover, they’ll recognize you as someone who is looking ahead and exhibits great leadership qualities by doing so.
11. Inspire by example
Bear in mind that you’re part of the team, not simply the head. Why would employees work hard if their leader doesn’t? Being a role model is fundamental to successful leadership. Prove that you understand their position and are on their side. Get down in the mud with your employees. This shows that hard work is completed at every level. Having a determined attitude earns trust and respect.
12. Think like a leader
Now, you’re the boss. Think back to strong leadership qualities your previous bosses possessed. Did you appreciate their communication skills, work ethic, or motivation? Do you exhibit the same? Asking yourself these questions will aspire you to be the boss your employees and business need and will help you become a great leader.
Owning a successful business isn’t simply a result of being a strong leader, but it also demands researching, planning, and piles of paperwork. Factor Finder’s startup series guides business owners through every detail of starting a company.