The following is a guest piece by Megan Totka.
We often hear that great leaders are born, not bred. This would imply that you must have leadership in your blood, rather than be able to learn great leadership qualities. While it may be true that some people are natural born leaders, I don’t think it’s necessarily true that great leadership cannot be taught.
On our Chamber blog and website, we focus on the needs of small business owners. Many small businesses are started by people who want to act on a great idea. These people may or may not have previous leadership experience or even possess inherent leadership qualities.
In the case of these business owners, it’s imperative to develop leadership skills, and quickly. Even if your business is a one-man show, it’s still critical to be assertive when it comes to business, and being assertive is absolutely a leadership quality.
If you are involved in a small business, whether it is as the owner, partner, or employee, it’s a great idea to take a few minutes to think about the leadership qualities that you possess and how you can use them to benefit yourself, your company, and those around you.
A few leadership qualities that are important to those who are involved in the small business world:
Integrity – a small business is nearly guaranteed to fail if its leader does not have integrity. Yes, you may be able to skate by in the business world for a short while, or even sometimes a long while, if you are dishonest, but the odds are absolutely not in your favor.
A good leader will do the right thing, even if it’s not going to produce an ideal outcome for themselves or their business. Having integrity in your business dealings will attract people back to your business again and again, and it will also entice them to recommend your business to others.
Dedication – I think this is one of the most important leadership qualities that must be held by anyone in the small business world. Without dedication, your business is going nowhere, and quickly.
Haven’t we all heard stories of entrepreneurs who work 80 hour weeks without paying themselves a salary in order to get their business off of the ground? That’s dedication, and to make a small business successful, it’s absolutely necessary.
Humbleness – while being humble may not be something that you would think of as a great leadership quality right off the bat, it absolutely is. Being able to give credit to others when it’s due and not taking all of the glory for the success of anything that you do in life is important.
People will not be willing to help you out, work for you, or even be able to enjoy your company in a casual setting if you take all of the credit, all of the time. Businesses are not built in a day, and they are certainly not built by just one pair of hands.
So why all of this talk about leadership qualities when the title of this blog is about helping others? The answer is, because it’s important to hone these qualities in yourself before you can help others. And haven’t most of us been taught for quite some time that the best way to learn is by teaching?
As a small business owner in particular, the opportunity to teach others to be great leaders often presents itself. The more great leaders that you can cultivate within your company, the better.
Now, you may be asking why you want to teach everyone that works for you or with you to be a leader. Wouldn’t that make for too many leaders and not enough followers? The answer is no! Helping people to develop the leadership qualities listed above, and many others, will only lead your business to be more successful in the long run.
You want your employees and customers to not be timid; they need to feel like they can present their own ideas and have their input valued. When a person possesses leadership skills, they can share ideas with confidence. They can also take criticism and turn it into a learning experience.
There are many different ways to cultivate leadership skills. Consider meeting with your business associates or employees on a regular basis to talk about different leadership qualities. Not only will this offer a break from the everyday workflow, it can potentially spark discussions and gather ideas that can improve your company.
You can also consider attending and/or sending your employees to leadership conferences or seminars. Sometimes getting an outside point of view is a great way to learn more about yourself and qualities that are inherent to you.
As I discussed in my previous guest piece, leadership in a small business is absolutely critical. Take some time to begin to cultivate leadership qualities in those that surround you, and I can guarantee that you and your business will reap the benefits.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.