When you run a small business, you're doing it all — often without any help. And this means that many business owners don't have the opportunity to learn how to develop their leadership skills.
How can you, as a business owner, develop your leadership skills? What community resources or professional organizations should you look to? Here’s how to stay on pace alongside your colleagues who are gaining leadership skills in a traditional employment setting.
Seek Out Community Resources or Professional Organizations
One way to develop your leadership skills is to seek out community resources or professional organizations that offer leadership development opportunities. Many Chambers of Commerce, for example, offer programs specifically designed to help business owners hone their leadership skills. These organizations often offer leadership development programs as well as networking opportunities with other industry leaders.
Career coach Ken Coleman emphasizes the importance of networking by “surrounding yourself with go-getters and setting your standards high.” These programs can provide you with the opportunity to network with other business leaders and learn from experienced professionals, as well as recruit the ideal candidates for any roles you are trying to fill.
Interaction Associates is an organization dedicated to supporting leaders and teams using an approach that emphasizes organizational collaboration. In addition to free resources on their website, they offer virtual workshops and on-site training.
Klemmer & Associates offers free weekly leadership lessons and career advice on its blogs, as well as paid leadership workshops and webinars.
The American Management Association (AMA) is a great resource for both paid training courses and seminars that improve leadership skills like communication, finance management and project management, and free insights through their podcasts and articles.
Develop Your Leadership Skills
In addition to seeking out community resources and professional organizations, another great way to develop your leadership skills is to read books or articles on the subject. There are many great books out there that can teach you about effective leadership techniques. This can be a great way to learn about the latest trends in your field and gain exposure to new ideas and develop your own unique leadership style.
A recent study found that only 14 percent of CEOs had the necessary leadership talent required to grow their business, so it is important that you are prepared to identify and hone your personal leadership skills.
Jeff Mains, CEO of Champion Leadership Group, says, “There is no one-size-fits-all leadership style, and if you attempt to lead like someone you've seen on media, you will most likely fail. To become a great leader, you need to recognize the areas in which you shine and then build on those skills to assist others in achieving their goals.”
You can also develop your leadership skills by attending leadership development workshops. These events are usually offered by professional organizations or community groups and provide a great opportunity to learn from experienced leaders. They can also be an opportunity to network with other business owners and find mentors who can help you in your journey as an entrepreneur.
Elene Cafasso, founder and president of Enerpace, Inc., also recommends personalized coaching to “bring the best practices, road map and tools that can help you exponentially develop in a way that’s customized to your strengths and preferences,” as well as looking into an MBA or leadership certificate program: “You’ll learn from your fellow students’ experience and wisdom and expand your network.”
As a leader, it is important to always be open to new opportunities for learning and stay committed to growth, which is why it’s important to always be on the lookout for available resources like workshops, webinars, and programs. Frederic Linfjard, Director of Growth Marketing of Planday, states that “the best method to improve your leadership abilities as an entrepreneur is to take initiative and learn from your mistakes, rather than relying on your knowledge of everything.”
The Center for Creative Leadership also has a wide variety of workshop kits to choose from, with all-inclusive modules on accountability, conversational skills and delegation, among others.
The IMD Business School is also a rich resource with an extensive catalog of programs and even has a program finder on its website to easily find a workshop that is best suited to your needs.
Business Training Works offers lots of self-paced online courses based on a variety of leadership skills that can be taken from any device at any pace.
An Ongoing Journey
Developing your leadership skills as an entrepreneur may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. There are many great resources available to help you on your journey. And most importantly, remember that you are always learning as a leader and entrepreneur. With a little effort and the help of Incfile's business resources and tools, you'll be well on your way to becoming an effective leader in no time.
Jenna Scatena is a writer and content strategist with a love for stories that have never been told before. More than a decade of working with prominent magazines and brands informs her approach to impactful storytelling. Her stories have reached more than 30 million readers, won multiple awards and been anthologized in books. Jenna's work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, Marie Claire, The San Francisco, BBC and The Atlantic. She's the founder of the editorial consultancy, Lede Studio.