By Mike Kappel
When you’re a business owner and an employer, you have to be a leader. You must be the face and strength of your business. Customers and the community should think well of you and your ability to run a business. And, you must rally your employees and charge them to do exemplary work.
How to be a business leader
If knowing how to be a leader in business doesn’t come naturally for you, you can learn how to become one. You can strengthen and grow your leadership skills. Check out these five ways to show leadership at your business.
1. Take Action
Perhaps you can give an inspiring speech. But, can you demonstrate the same action that you expect from employees? No one likes a leader who is all talk and no action.
You need to lead your employees by example. You must do just as much work as them. In fact, you should do more work than all of them. Show your employees that you are a working boss and not just hiding in an office.
Employees will look up to someone who works hard and cares about the business. They will not respect your leadership if you’re a slacker who doesn’t care about what they’re doing.
You must be a leader with action. If I had only “talked” about opening a business, none of my businesses would exist today. And if I only “talked” about finding more customers and developing new products, my businesses never would have grown. I needed to do more than just “talk.” I needed action.
Because I took action, my businesses started and grew. And, I led my employees with my actions. I’ve never passively run my businesses. I get my hands dirty, and I expect the same from my employees.
2. Show passion
You probably had an initial passion when you started your business. But, do you have passion for the day-to-day tasks of running it?
It’s OK if you don’t. Passion can be learned. But, that passion must develop and you must show it to your employees.
Employees need to see that you are passionate about your business and your everyday work. You can’t simply say you’re passionate. Growing as a leader requires you to show your passion through your attitude and actions.
Your passion is contagious. If you are passionate, your employees will care more about the work that they are doing. It’s no secret that engaged employees drive the bottom line.
3. Be encouraging
No one wants to work for a leader that always gives critiques and putdowns. It’s discouraging to work in an environment like that.
You should praise and encourage your employees. There are many ways to reward employees on a budget that will still motivate them. Create a positive workplace for them. When employees do something great or better than expected, tell them.
You might also encourage employees by giving them opportunities to grow. Acknowledge their hard work by giving more responsibility and challenging projects. Let them take the time to develop and practice their skills. Show your employees that you care about them personally and professionally.
4. Listen to employees
Good leaders don’t always talk and command. They should listen, too. You can never grow as a leader and business owner if you don’t hear what other people have to say.
Provide opportunities for your employees to share ideas and concerns. Let them tell you what they think. You never know when an employee might have an idea that will greatly improve your business.
Also, conduct regular performance reviews. Reviews aren’t just a time for you to critique employees. Employees should have an opportunity to tell you how you’re doing, too. Let employees tell you what you can improve on as a leader. Your employees know what they need to thrive, so let them tell you.
5. Try new things
When you listen to your employees, you’ll likely discover new things to try in your business.
While your old methods might be tried and true, there might be better ways to do things. Technologies are advancing, programs are constantly created, and new processes are discovered. Trying a new way of doing things might help your business.
You don’t need to try every idea that comes along. And, you don’t need to keep every process or program that you try. Show your employees that you are willing to lead your business into the future.
Mike Kappel is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of Patriot Software Company, and its subsidiaries. Patriot Software, LLC is a developer of online payroll and accounting software for U.S. small-business owners. Connect on Twitter: @PatriotSoftware.