Leadership Basics for Small Business Owners

February 14th, 2017 by Brandon Horvath

Leading a small business can be both exciting and challenging. From planning your next social media marketing piece to ensuring vendors are paid on time, you are being pulled in a million directions as the person in charge.

Leaders often neglect the basics of leadership, causing numerous sleepless nights and high employee turnover. Trying to strengthen your leadership skills by reading leadership theory books by noted leaders and researchers can be overwhelming. What to do?

American Express’ OPENforum asked several successful business owners for their best leadership advice. Here are the principles that were cited over and over again.

  1. Communicate vision and goals
    Communication is essential when creating a cohesive work environment. While the small business owner may set the direction for the company, communicating that direction with everyone on the team is crucial. Allowing your employees to see the larger picture will keep the organization on the path you are forging.
  2. Listen
    A large part of the communication process includes listening. John Spridigliozzi, vice president of business development at Infinit Technology Solutions states that “Engaging in a dialog with team members [is an] opportunity for clarity…Learning to listen is not simply keeping quiet while others talk. It is comprehending what is being said, assessing the value and responding accordingly.”
  3. Build relationships
    Leaders should look for ways to build strong relationships with employees and customers.Larry M. Elkin, CPA, CFPR, and founder of Palisades Hudson Financial Group, encourages leaders to “Be considerate. Be transparent and consistent. Be fair. Be constructive. Be realistic. Be decisive.” Elkin adds, “We all say we want team players, but many leaders forget to act as part of the team. It is not only important that your workers trust each other: It is vital that they trust you as their leader.”
  4. Set the tone
    The tone and culture of any small business starts with the owner of that small business. According to Kristi Hedges, a leadership consultant and coach at The Hedges Company, “You can go through thousands of dollars in consultants to shape your culture, but it will still come back to the owner’s approach.”Small business owners should objectively try to analyzing your own leadership strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Share ownership
    It takes a village to grow your small business! Small business owners need to empower employees to take ownership of job functions and projects.“In our business, we’ve learned that a little transparency can go a long way toward increasing employees’ confidence, commitment, and energy,” says Ethan Willis, CEO of Prosper Inc. and coauthor of The One-Minute Entrepreneur.

Getting back to the basics can transform the way your employees view you and develop them into leaders.

The Leadership Conference

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at Henderson State University will host The Leadership Conference April 6. The insightful one-day conference will highlight the leadership styles and small business strategies of multiple generations.

Register now