small business leaderRecently a client said to me, “I think I am a great small business owner but I am a lousy leader.” I was shocked that they viewed themselves that way. It started me wondering about how many small business owner clients I have who may or may not be good and effective leaders.

Small business owner and small business leader are not synonymous. A small business owner is that person who had an idea and then applied their resources and personal commitment to opening their own business. They may or may not be successful. A small business leader is someone who starts as a small business owner but has developed skills that also make them an effective leader.

A small business leader is not just an owner. They inspire others to share their vision. They also inspire others to offer their skills, abilities, and talents to realize the full extent and potential of that vision. In return, this person is willing to share their accomplishments in such a way that it promotes personal gain for everyone that contributed to their business and personal success.

I believe there are seven skills that set owner and leader apart. Some of them come naturally, but all of them can be more fully developed with time and experience. The more developed these skills, the more accomplished the leader.

Small business leaders are constantly mastering these skills:

  1. Communication is the key to understanding. It includes not only verbal and written abilities but active listening.
  2. Delegation is the art of sharing control. It sends a message of trust and promotes growth in those that have been delegated responsibilities.
  3. Influence is having the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. This is a powerful skill and can have either a negative or positive impact on the individual(s) being influenced. In this case, we are referring to “positive” influence.
  4. Self awareness is the ability to examine our blind spots. Small business coaching or executive coaching can help you identify flaws or blind spots in such a way that you are inspired to make change that benefits you, your employees and your business.
  5. Motivation takes a spark of desire, guides it and tends it to exceed expectations.
  6. Continuing education for yourself and your employees. Ongoing access to learning and training works both ways, it is preempted by the skill to assess what is needed and then fill the need.
  7. Role modeling puts your intentions for proper business culture into visible action. Worth more than all of the above skills put together – when you are trusted and respected your behavior becomes the pattern to follow.

Over the next few weeks we will be examining these skills one by one. I will fully describe the characteristics of the skill, offer you some suggestions on how to develop that skill and give you some examples on how to practice. Be sure you check back soon on any that interest you.

Yes, developing these skills will take time and energy. Is it worth it? You decide for yourself.  A small business headed by a leader is likely to have more staff loyalty, more satisfied employees, lower turnover, and higher productivity. They are also more likely to have a more time to work “on” their business once they have engaged their staff through delegation. Lastly, they are likely to report more joy in their work life as business owners. People like helping people to grow and develop.  There is no better way than to be an effective leader.