Management Expertise: How Entrepreneurs Can Turn into Nice Leaders
Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Richard Branson. What do all these people have in common? Aside from the fact that they all roll in cash, they were all grassroots entrepreneurs who would later become CEOs of large corporations. And how did you do it? The answer is simple: not only were you entrepreneurs, you were also great leaders.
In this article, we're going to outline the 10 essential leadership qualities an entrepreneur needs to be a great leader, and we'll also go into detail on how those qualities can benefit your business.
First, let's talk about why good leadership is important to business success.
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Why leadership skills are important to entrepreneurs
The Oxford dictionary definition of an entrepreneur reads as follows: "A person who starts a business or business and takes financial risks in the hope of profit." Entrepreneurs are more than just a manager of a company; they are each part of a company that Idea to bankroll.
In many cases, entrepreneurs work alone, especially if this is the first time you've got the ball rolling with a particular idea. In many ways this is a great thing, it means you can give the company your undivided attention, but at some point when you start to scale you need to be able to bring others into the mix and inspire them with the unique Passions and drives that you have for your company.
When this inevitable step occurs, the entrepreneur is at the top of the entire business as he is in control of the purse strings. At this point, many people have come up short because they need to have completely different skills and be able to lead people.
To enter this role effectively, an entrepreneur must possess a number of qualities. Read on to find out what they are and why they matter.
10 leadership skills great leaders should possess
Here is our list of 10 leadership skills that will help entrepreneurs become great leaders. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does outline the key qualities any great leader needs.
1. Team building
The first skill an entrepreneur needs is the ability to put together a team that is dedicated and able to get the job done. Once this team is put together, you also need to inspire them to have the same drive and passion that you have for the company and make them a real part of the business success.
The first thing to do when putting a team together is to highlight your areas of need and make a shortlist of people who you think are suitable for the job. Then, come up with a set of values that you believe will make a person suitable for the job. This is a technique used by big companies like Apple that helps you differentiate between candidates who all appear exactly the same on paper.
Once they are hired, it is important that they are introduced to the business in a way that allows them to invest in the company's goals. Avoid just sitting them at a desk and telling them to get to work.
The more the new hires know about the company and how it came about, the more engrossed with the role and understanding how their efforts will benefit the whole company. As a result, the employees feel part of a team and not as dispensable seat fillers.
2. Efficient communication
Communication is key to being a good leader and leading a team effectively. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, "great leaders communicate information, thoughts and ideas clearly – and often". Whenever possible and appropriate, share everything with your team and include it in discussions that they may bring in later.
It's important to establish a persona that is accessible to people and has as many channels of communication as possible for your team and customers.
These days, communicating efficiently is easier than ever, whether you are on an office team or a remote team. Aside from email and phone, you can open instant messaging channels like Slack so reps can easily and quickly contact you if there are problems.
Creating such links not only makes it easier for employees to contact you, it also makes them less daunting and removes unnecessary differences between employees and managers. The more open and friendly the communication between you and your team, the more efficient you will be overall.
This is a quality that many business owners find difficult to grapple with. When you're used to doing everything yourself, it can be difficult to adapt when you have a knowledgeable team around you that can help you ease your burden. However, learning how to properly delegate is important if you want to be a good leader.
When you have put together a good team they should be trusted to work efficiently and autonomously, and it is important that you let them do this. Micromanagement employees or jobs that should fall under their job description can be perceived as patronizing and passive-aggressive. If your employees are worth their salt, it won't be long before they're fed up or offended.
If you have difficulty delegating tasks in specific areas, set up a weekly meeting where you can discuss that particular topic in a collaborative manner and pass the reigns to the appropriate employee at all other times. This way you can have a say and at the same time pass creative control on to your employees.
Great executives always have their finger on the pulse when it comes to motivating their team. If they notice that their motivation is waning in one area or another, they immediately take action to correct it.
To effectively motivate a group of people, one must first find motivation in oneself. It may sound cheesy, but you need to lead by example. This means you don't have to groan and complain to your employees about your workload. The passion you show for your job will affect your employees.
Additionally, you need to keep a close eye on employees who are lacking motivation or who are becoming complacent. This type of behavior is natural and should not be punished. Instead, present them with a new personal or professional growth challenge and talk to them about things that inspire them.
Inc. 500 entrepreneur and best-selling author Kevin Daum said, "Great leaders want their people to be their best, and they're ready to help them get there."
5. Planning and foresight
In 2020, "300 companies in the US filed for bankruptcy and partially blamed Covid-19 for their deaths," according to an article published by Bloomberg. While this number is partly due to the unprecedented circumstances, it is also due to a lack of foresight and planning.
To be a good leader, you need to be able to predictively predict situations that could endanger your company and your employees. Employees are not just numbers in a spreadsheet, they are people with a real life and a real confidence in the income the company offers. Great leaders will have contingency plans to help them navigate even the most bizarre situations and keep as many employees as possible.
To run your business effectively you need to try to take all contingencies into account and make sure your planning is top notch so that your employees know what to do and what the company is working towards at all times.
6. Share success
Most business ideas come from the responsible entrepreneur and are therefore often recognized for the company's success when it is not actually due. Yes, you came up with the idea and set the wheels in motion to found the company. However, when you employ a team it becomes a team effort, and success becomes a shared triumph that everyone can enjoy.
As a leader, you should give credit where credit is due and help your employees feel comfortable with the contributions they make. If you don't, your best minds may feel undervalued and underrated. This leads to apathy and a lack of motivation among employees.
According to Resurg, "recognizing individual and team achievements helps to build a feeling of solidarity and identity for the entire team."
Regular praise events, where you call the various members of the team on their personal accomplishments, are a great way to share success. It could be a weekly team meeting or simply an email thanking the various team members for their specific contributions.
7.Listen to your team (and learn from them!)
One mistake many entrepreneurs make is thinking that they know everything about everything. But the truth is, if they did that, they wouldn't need a team at all.
Most business teams are made up of highly skilled people who are very knowledgeable, and business owners and managers can learn a lot from them.
Instead of just assigning tasks to your employees, work with them and learn from them. Your business is much more likely to thrive when you have experts to offer their guides and opinions rather than just following instructions.
8. A clear vision
People are only as good as the direction they're given, and if management's vision is unclear, your team is likely to get variable or less than adequate results.
As the Executive Coaches at Endless Possibilities put it, "Great leaders can look beyond what is possible today and look at what is possible in the future." And it's important that you share this vision with your team so that you are all working towards the same overall goals.
Great managers are personable and sensitive to the needs of their employees. Instead of treating their employees like robots doing tasks, they treat them like humans, anticipating their human needs and supporting them emotionally.
Great executives not only offer one or the other sick pay and vacation allowance, but also make it possible for their employees to ask for help and support in exceptional circumstances.
If you want to connect with your employees on a human level and really want to empathize with them, try to incorporate as many “non-work” elements into your business strategy as possible. Companies like UK Fast made headlines for offering a range of employee benefits, including dog kennels at work, health facilities, crèches for local children, and extra days off for people celebrating birthdays and newlyweds.
While ideas like this may be a little tricky, it shows employees that you consider them human and that their work-life balance is as important to you as it is to them.
To be a great leader, you should be honest with yourself and with others. Just because you have a leadership title doesn't mean you can't go wrong. When you do this, it is important to face them and be honest.
Being honest with your team can be a quick way of making strong bonds and people will be more comfortable with the idea of being honest with you. There are times when employees need to tell you harsh truths about decisions you or they have made. If your relationship is based on honesty and integrity, they are less likely to hide things that could later adversely affect the business.
Moving from entrepreneur to CEO of a company is not easy, but armed with the above traits you should be able to assemble and manage a happy and productive workforce and make your business a success. What do you think are the most important leadership qualities for entrepreneurs? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.