Small business owners usually have various responsibilities, often juggling marketing and sales while attending to administrative tasks. As a result, it’s not always easy for small management teams or even one person in charge to keep up with all aspects of running a company. This article explores three ways for business owners to improve their leadership skills: Focus, Team Development, and Execution.
To become a better leader, the first step is figuring out your personal goals and how they align with your company’s Vision. Owners with strong leadership skills will align their desires for themselves and the passion that they want for their business. With this alignment, it becomes easier to see which path forward would be best moving ahead in terms of a growth strategy or other aspects of achieving success as an organization.
When a leader has focus, their goals and priorities become crystal clear. And with that clarity, decision-making becomes more manageable. But is it aligned with the Vision? Does it advance the business towards your larger goals or not? Finally, does this bring value aligned to achieving your objectives within the time constraints you’ve set for yourself?
When a leader has focused on what is essential to meet their Vision, they can make decisions simply because they know which direction needs work at any given moment. They can then quickly decide if something aligns with what’s most important based on whether or not it will further them closer toward meeting those desired outcomes
The leader’s primary focus is on the “how” of their business. They recognize that there will not be enough time to spend with each employee every day as they grow. To ensure alignment and maintain a clear vision for the company, it is crucial that leaders communicate these plans effectively–and doing so enables them to free up more time to lead other areas of their organization.
Corporate America always has some initiative or other on how to develop their people’s leadership skills. However, it is more difficult in small businesses and not a priority because they have so much else to do. So, what can you do for team development?
It begins with hiring well. Then, take the time to build a process of hiring that provides consistent outcomes and results. That starts with clear job descriptions. This helps outline for you the skills and talents you need from the candidate. And, it allows the candidate to see if the position is a fit for them.
Assessments are helpful tools as well. We recommend the Core Values Index (take it free here) as it defines the innate strengths candidates bring to your firm. It is not the only criteria for hiring, but it can guide your questions for the candidate and show how well they align with the position’s needs. They also will help you understand how your team will interact.
Once hired, the next step is providing clear guidance and direction to your employees. This gets back to our first point on focus. When you are focused as a leader and have clear goals and priorities, you can communicate them quickly to the team. And you have to share them often. The more people on the team understand where you are leading the business (Vision), the better they can see how they contribute to that Vision. And that brings alignment and engagement, so you have less turnover.
Finally, as a leader, you need to encourage frequent feedback to your teams on performance, both good and bad. A former boss told me that “problems don’t age well.” So deal with issues as soon as you become aware of them. And, more importantly, catch people doing something right and acknowledge it.
One of the most critical aspects for any business owner is to know how well they are executing. This requires attention first and foremost to your goals, objectives, and priorities to put all of your resources where it needs them – on what you care about most!
Objectives are the measurable, graphable goals that tell you how your business is performing. They consist of lagging and leading indicators to know if you are making the achievements today to deliver your results tomorrow. These should be reviewed at least monthly and discussed with your team. Compare your outcomes against the prior year and plan. And assess what those numbers are telling you about the future and make adjustments to a forecast as necessary.,
Your priorities are the work that you need to do. These are the big business-building projects that deliver the future for you, your team, and your customers. You do not want to have more than 9 of these with no more than three in a given quarter in a year. Each month you should check progress on these projects against major milestones and budget.
And don’t hide your progress on your essential execution items. Too many leaders don’t want to “make the team nervous,” so they hold back bad news. The reality is, if you’re not hitting your deliverables, employees can see it in their workload. So deliver updates on these items to your team in a monthly town hall.
Leadership is an art, and you must develop strong leadership skills to excel. If you are a small business owner, entrepreneur, or leader who needs help in any of the three areas mentioned above, let’s talk! I offer services for people looking to improve their skills as leaders and entrepreneurs. Whether it’s focus on what matters or team development with your staff members, we can set up a call together so that you have all the information necessary to get started.