Well, let’s go ahead and dive right in!
Being an effective leader is difficult for many reasons, the least of which is that no two people are alike. This makes it extremely difficult to offer advice on how to lead effectively because people have different life experiences, motivators, working styles, goals and, of course, leadership styles. Then, you pile on the fact that every situation is different, and it begins to look impossible to offer any sage advice at all to help people be better leaders. So how can you offer advice that applies to every person, in every situation, at any given time? By focusing on the four pillars of effective leadership, you can create a universal blueprint for small business leadership.
Getting the right people in the right positions is important in any business, but it’s even more important in a small business. Larger businesses can (and often do) carry some dead weight; but in a small business, every person needs to be essential and the best at what they do for you to really lead the business to success. Jim Collins calls this the “first who then what” approach to business leadership. By having the right people and formulating a strategy around them, you can build success far more effectively than if you have a great strategy and try to bring in people to execute it.
Business leaders that are in it for themselves often falter because they make decisions by choosing the path that will fill their pockets and boost their stature rather than what is good for their business and their employees. They tend to turn people off with their greed – alienating customers and irritating employees, which can be terminal for small businesses. When you can put yourself aside as a small business owner and be more selfless and genuine, people respond to that. It also lets you think clearer and more strategically about the business. Putting the business’s best interests first will always result in a better outcome long-term no matter how big or small the business is.
Realizing and Rewarding Value
In business, your customers, partners and employees all add value to your bottom line. Realizing just how important those pieces are to your success will help keep you humble and guide you to make decisions that will benefit each party. Rewarding people will keep them loyal and in turn add further value, creating an upward spiral. By recognizing and rewarding the value customers, partners and employees bring to the table you can build your business on a solid foundation that will sustain continued growth into the future.
When your business is small or first starting out, it’s easy to get pulled in a million different directions. You don’t necessarily know what might work out yet, so you’re less likely to say no and stick with your vision. To be an effective small business leader though, you need to have the restraint to say no when you need to in order to stick to your core concept and achieve your goals. By keeping your goals in sight at all times, you can make the decisions that you need to keep your business on the path to get there.
Small business leaders that practice these principles often end up being medium-sized business owners that practice these principles and then large business owners that practice these principles because they enable companies to succeed and grow! Have anything you want to add? Let us know!
By Kate Pierce. Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!