Thoughts on small business leadership
Life in a small business is busy. There’s a lot of hard work, and resources and time can often be tight. To be successful, there’s no question that effective leadership is required in small businesses. You have to wear many hats and be organised and focused. But there’s far more to it than just being a good manager. It’s important, of course, but being an effective leader involves far more.
Even the smallest of businesses must conduct themselves in such a way that they show true leadership. There are many features a good leader needs, but my biggest tip for effective leadership is to do exactly what you want your team to mirror. To demonstrate through your own actions the way you want your team and your business to deliver.
Even if you only have one or two employees, you need to make sure you do the right thing. Most importantly, that should be what’s right for your business, not necessarily for yourself.
Effective leaders do what is right, not what is easy.
You need to make sure that you deliver on everything that you expect your team to. Check your principles and priorities – and your attitude. If you’re too busy to call that customer back; if you’re happy just sticking to the 9-5; if you decide not to take initiative, and to just carry on doing the same old, day in, day out – what message is all that giving your team?
You’re not going to get innovation or creativity. You’re not going to get your business driving forwards in the way you want. You won’t see inspiration, motivation or engagement.
The key is to lead from the top. But what does that mean in practice?
It means show up early. It means roll your sleeves up and work hard. It means put in the hours, and get what needs to be done completed to a level you are proud of. Be the happy, smiley face that you want your business to be, and show the principles that you want your team to represent. How do you want your business to appear to the outside world? Don’t just tell your staff: show them. Lead through your own best practice to create an inspired and motivated team that will do as you do.
It’s important to remember that as a director, you do have certain legal responsibilities. You have a duty to the company and in turn, its shareholders, to do the right thing by the company.
Now, I know that if you are the director and a shareholder, and you effectively run the whole thing and it’s YOUR company, you might think that this is a moot point, but believe me, it isn’t. You need to put both personal desires and company desires to one side. Now that doesn’t mean that the end goal of your business shouldn’t be congruent with your personal goals – of course it should! If they’re not in line with each other, from a personal perspective it’s arguable that there’s very little point being in business.
However, I strongly believe that on the individual decisions you make day to day, you need to take off your personal hat, put on your business leader hat and decide what is best to do – not for you, but for the business.