The following is a guest piece by Megan Totka.
Great leadership is a necessity for any business that is striving for great success, especially during trying times. Without leadership that is effective, it’s nearly impossible for businesses to grow and expand, as is necessary in an ever-changing market.
While large corporations may be able to survive for short periods of time without great leadership in place, the opposite is often true for small businesses. Small businesses are often comprised of just a few employees, and could potentially fall apart if their leadership structure is in jeopardy.
So why exactly is it that great leadership is a must for small businesses? Here are a few reasons:
- To give direction – this can be taken in more than one way. A business needs direction in the sense of a goal, a bigger picture. This helps everyone who is involved with the company to feel like they are striving towards a goal, and likely will make everyone involved more productive. Giving direction on a daily basis is important as well. While many employees are self-starters and can get work done without much guidance that is not the case for everyone. A great leader can motivate employees that need a little more direction in their everyday work.
- To establish the “feel” of the business – the leader of a small business is also tasked with setting the “feel” of the company. Some companies may be more laid back or relaxed, while some may have strict deadlines and dress codes. The leader of the company needs to be the one who sets the standard for this, or discord can exist in the business. Image what would happen if a business team consisted of both laid-back employees and employees who were more rigid. Without a clear direction of where to go, no one would agree on how to get things done.
- To keep the company cohesive – this ties in somewhat with the other two reasons. It’s important for everyone in a company to be working towards a collective goal. The leader not only established this goal, but also helps employees in any way that he or she can, since everyone is working toward the so-called greater good.
The leader of a small business must possess great leadership qualities, as well. Some people really are born leaders, they are the ones that lead the pack on the playground from a very young age. But not everyone in the business world is like this.
Some people who want to lead their own company must learn what a successful leader is, and gain some important leadership qualities if they hope to become successful.
While there are many qualities that a great leader must possess, I think there is a more specific set that is especially important in the small business world. Here are a few of these qualities:
- The ability to think ahead – while in a larger business, thinking of what’s happening right now might be the most important, it’s critical that a small business owner/leader be able to envision where the company will be in five years. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to run a successful small business without a concrete, forward-thinking plan. Small businesses must always be looking for the next big thing, in order to stay afloat.
- Responsibility – the leader of a small business absolutely must be responsible. I know that this may seem silly to even have to mention, but it’s not always as obvious as some might think. Being responsible would include things like appropriate money management, timeliness, and professionalism. The leader of a small business must not only keep the business going, but also set a great, positive example for everyone else in the company as well.
- Communication – having great communication skills is an invaluable quality in the world of small business. In a larger company or corporation, you may be able to get by on less-than-stellar communication skills, because you may not have to interact with consumers (thus influencing their view of the company) as often. However, in a small business with just a handful of employees, the leader/owner often wears many, many hats. This can include anything from salesperson to marketing liaison and many, many more. The ability to communicate with people from all aspect of the business world is crucial.
- Be a motivator – another very important quality for a small business leader to have is the power to motivate people. Motivation is critical to small business, because if everyone doesn’t do their part, then your business will not be successful. Motivating people to keep striving for better things for the business is so important.A great leader is able to motivate people without being obnoxious about it, for lack of a better term. Making sure your employees are acknowledged as well as keeping them happy and engaged is so important.
Leadership in small business is a fine art, and if you are able to perfect it, the odds that your business will succeed increase drastically. If you don’t see yourself as the ideal leader for your business, consider taking on an employee or partner who has great leadership qualities.
Or, if you want to learn more about becoming a great leader, find someone in your business community who is clearly leading their business successfully, and ask them to mentor you. Leadership qualities are a great thing to learn.
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.