How to become a great small business leader

January 27, 2017

So you’ve set the goals for the year ahead. You’ve got your to-do list to help you get there and you’re feeling invigorated and optimistic about 2016.

You alone, however, can’t attain that goal. So how do you get your staff on board? The secret to that is a lot to do about leadership…Whether you’re leading a team of three people or 3000, there are some crucial behaviours that will determine how successful you are in getting others to follow you. But let’s look back before moving forward…

The Australian Institute of Management (AIM) says that if you want to stump a room full of executives, ask them why anyone should listen to them. “Because I’ve been here for the past 15 years and I’ve made this company what it is today,” is likely to be at least one of their responses. Likewise you – the SME owner. However, while that may provide some measure of credibility, the real reason anyone should be in a leadership position isn’t because of their past performance, but their potential for future-based performance. AIM says the importance is in actually creating a strategic long-term plan for the future and, of more importance, how you inspire others to follow you. We asked AIM to provide us with the key attributes an SME leader needs to lead their team into the future – here’s what they had to say:

Create a strategic vision

This is the vital ticket to the game in terms of basic leadership attributes. Without a clear direction, there is nowhere for you to lead your followers too. Basic human psychology dictates that people need to feel “part of a movement” if they are to be motivated to carrying out their daily tasks.

Establish authority

Whether granted or earned, this is the other obvious attribute that a leader must possess before they can mobilise their teams and organisations. Failure to establish and maintain authority is one of the main causes of ineffective leadership. This is, without surprise, the most commonly difficult attribute to establish.

Show your weaknesses

You need to strategically and selectively show your weaknesses. While this may be seen as a risk to your authority, by exposing some vulnerability, you reveal your approachability and humanity.

Use your intuition

Often overlooked, the ability to rely heavily on intuition to gauge the appropriate timing and course of actions is a strong attribute. A successful leader’s ability to collect and interpret soft data helps them know just when and how to act. Soft data is made up of information about things that are difficult to measure such as people’s opinions, attitudes and feelings.

Don’t forget empathy

Inspirational leaders empathise passionately and realistically with people, and they care intensely about the work their employees and direct reports do. So this is a strong and valuable attribute. This isn’t about micro-managing the tasks of employees, however. It is more about showing that the work that every employee does isn’t overlooked or unimportant.

What about charisma?

Many people will talk about charisma being one of the intangibles of a great leader, but what is more attainable and just as effective is the way in which you reveal your differences. You need to capitalise on what is unique about you. This is not done in the same way as you reveal your weaknesses, but in a way that sets you apart in your employees’ minds from other leaders they may have experienced. This helps to remove unconscious bias about the type of leader you could be deemed similar to by carving out your own unique niche or leadership style.

Last word

There is no silver bullet, however, for ensuring your success as a leader, but it is worthy of noting that successful leaders are focused on their own continuous education and improvement and do not see themselves as a finished product. Leading by example and with humility are age-old traits that should be the first pieces of weaponry used in an effective leadership arsenal.

When you nail leadership and associated business success, that’s when you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities or capital investments. People like us, Kikka, will offer fast credit lines (up to $100,000 online in seven minutes) that enable you to take advantage of these opportunities to keep your business growing. However, it’s important to get the basics right first. And that means putting in the hard yards with you, your team and your business. For more information about how to apply for a loan with Kikka click here.

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