Leadership isn’t just about being the boss. It’s about empowering your employees to succeed and helping them in any way you can.
You run a business, but that doesn’t mean you were ever formally trained on how to be a good leader. You’ve learned by trial and error over the years, but you’re always looking for more strategies to ensure that your employees are happy and productive.
But why bother? With so much else on your plate, do you really need to brush up on leadership strategies?
But with a little effort, you can ensure that your leadership skills are up to snuff and that your employees are empowered to succeed.
Consider Your Audience
The different types of leadership styles include:
While there’s likely a leadership style that fits you better than others, also take into consideration your audience. If you’re managing a team of millennials, you probably need to take a different approach to exercising leadership than you would a team full of baby boomers.
You may also want to be a bit flexible in how you interact with each individual. Beth may be able to handle constructive criticism well in her performance reviews, while Charlie has an emotional breakdown whenever you make any suggestion for improvement.
Knowing each of your employees well can help you find the path to best motivate each one.
Rely on Technology When It Helps
We think that good leadership is 90% human effort and 10% technology. Invest in software and apps that help you do your job well.
That might mean using employee scheduling software to stay on top of who’s working when (rather than old paper schedules). It could be a professional employer organization that helps you manage employee performance reviews and feedback or call center software that makes customer service tasks easier for your employees.
Find what moves the needle. Those tools are worth the investment.
Check in Constantly
A good leader knows what his employees are working on, what their mental states are, and what might be impeding them pretty much all the time. Obviously, this is easier to do if you have a relatively small team.
But your primary task as a leader should be checking in with your employees on a regular basis. That could be as casual as a five-minute chat in the breakroom or as formal as a weekly status report meeting in your office.
And be available. There will, of course, be times in between those catch-up sessions that your employees have questions or concerns or just need to rant about frustrations. If your schedule is hectic, make an effort to block off a few hours a week just to be available for anyone who needs you. Let your team know that they’re welcome to walk in and talk during those hours.
Don’t Just Listen. Do
It’s one thing to listen sympathetically when an employee comes to you with a list of grievances. But a good manager actually takes action to rectify a situation.
Let’s say Vera and Brad are butting heads on their project, and it’s holding up the whole team. You can tell them to work it out themselves, but with tempers flaring, that’s unlikely to happen.
You could take them into your office to break down what caused the conflict and work to resolve it. You could move one of them to another project. Whatever you do, it’s just important that you do something, as that will build trust with your employees.
Empower Them to Act on the Company’s Behalf
Good customer experience is essential for any business, and that starts with training employees on it.
About 72% of businesses say that improving their customer experience is their top priority, and 91% of customers who had a bad customer experience won’t do business with a company again.
In addition, 86% of buyers would pay more for a better customer experience.
How can you remove barriers so that your staff feels empowered to please customers? Maybe you can train customer service reps to go off script so that they are more personable when interacting with customers, or you can give them a budget to send thank you gifts to long-term customers.
Just remove yourself from the decision-making process, and trust your team to act in the best interest of the company.
Know When to Get Out of the Way
Although you are the business owner, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should also be the manager of your employees.
If you’re struggling to connect with your team in a meaningful way or just don’t feel like you have time to really dedicate to a leadership role, hire someone else. A professional who has leadership experience may be better equipped to guide your employees to success, while also helping your company thrive.
There’s no rule that says the business owner must also manage all staff. Focus on your strengths and the roles that no one but you can do, and hand the management over to someone who’s adept at leading people.
A company with a strong leader is one with strong and effective employees. Invest time, money, and energy into nurturing your staff, and they’ll reward you with years of dedicated service.
And realize: Being a good leader isn’t something you achieve once and then stay at the top. You need to continually sharpen your leadership skills, assess the situation to provide the best support, and get feedback from your staff to ensure you’re doing a good job.