As a small business owner, you are an entrepreneur at your core—you organize a business venture and undertake the risk. Your existing skills have primed you to inspire your employees to help you drive your shared successes to the next level; all you need is the intangible asset of leadership.
In Dave Ramsey’s book Entreleadership, the author recounts how he merged the title’s term terms “entrepreneur” and “leadership,” to form “entreleadership” – the process of “leading to cause a venture to grow and prosper.”
You already possess the authority of owning a business and the grit of an entrepreneur. Now it’s time to learn how to turn it into leadership.
• Leaders cultivate new leaders. A true leader empowers employees. A healthy workplace environment equipped for success is one that fosters diverse thoughts and gives employees the authority to make their own decisions and take action on behalf of the company. Employees interact with customers and can provide innovative points of view.
George S. Patton once said, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
In an Entrepreneur.com post, author Stephanie Vozza writes about Abraham Lincoln’s decision to gather his rivals into his cabinet – during the Civil War, no less. His plan was to rouse these great minds to do what he knew they would – challenge and provide their opposing views.
“A self-confident man, Lincoln welcomed strong opinions as it provoked thoughtful debate as well as inner reflection,” writes Vozza. “It proved to be an important tactic during his presidency.”
• Leaders plan. It is essential for leaders to keep tabs on the market with never-ending curiosity. Forecasts should be drafted by both the month and the year, with numbers and predictions readjusted every month as you go along. This is especially critical in an uncertain economy. Understanding market dynamics and knowing the habits of your customers and your own internal spending can help you prepare for the worst. However, you must also be prepared for the best.
If you undergo a sudden growth spurt, it helps to have enough supplies, products and manpower to sustain it.
• Leaders share the vision. Articulating a vision enables customers and employees to know what you aspire to be years down the road. A well-conceived vision conveys a larger sense of purpose, inspiring employees to come to work every day to build a product or provide a service that makes an impact. In tough times, a vision can help remind you of your direction. The following is an example of Comcast Business Class’ vision statement:
“We will deliver a superior experience to our customers every day. Our products will be the best and we will offer the most customer-friendly and reliable service in the market.”
• Leaders lead themselves. Leaders should have the persistent entrepreneurial drive to keep learning. Leaders are rarely born – it’s up to you to gain the skills to be an effective leader. In a study published in “The Determinants of Leadership: The Role of Genetics, Personality, and Cognitive Variables” by the University of Minnesota, it was found that out of 238 identical male twins and 188 fraternal male twins, only one-third of the differences they had in their formal leadership positions could be attributed to genetics. The other two-thirds of variances in leadership roles were accredited to environmental factors.
To continually improve your leadership skills, consider hiring an executive coach and studying publications on leadership. In addition, look for opportunities that will help you practice your skills, such as participating in your local Chamber of Commerce.
Leadership is a choice. Great leaders know how to integrate their personal style into their organization, nurturing both the human and the business aspects simultaneously. If you decide to step up to the challenge, the transition from merely managing a business to leading one can prove to be rewarding.