Whether you own a small LLC doing $100,000 per year or an Inc. 500 company doing billions in revenue, as a business owner you should always be focused on your leadership skills. Any business is truly only as good as the leaders at its helm. That being said, here are some important leadership skills and leadership tips for business owners to consider implementing immediately (if you aren’t already).
1. Delegation Is Key
As much as you'd like to run every aspect of your business yourself and believe you are the best at everything — there simply isn't enough time (and you're probably not). One of the most effective leadership skills business owners must possess is the ability to give direction and delegate.
Find out what your strengths are and make sure you focus your efforts there while delegating other responsibilities. If something would take you forever to complete, find someone who's more proficient and let them do it instead. At first, it might be difficult for you to fully trust an employee to take responsibility for a project. But if they have the requisite skills, you need to show them you trust them and their abilities to get the job done. In the end, this will free up your time to help build the business in other areas while moving it forward as a team.
2. You're Only as Good as the People You Hire
Always be slow to hire and quick to fire. You are only as good as the staff you are surrounded with, so bring on competent employees who are better than you at different aspects of your business. You might be amazing at selling and closing deals...but if you are terrible at marketing, then hire someone who's the best in their field (or at least better than you). Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is another of the important leadership skills you need to have.
Think about it this way: If you hire employees who don’t possess the right skills and aren’t able to fully get the job done, you'll be wasting money and time. You will probably need to go back and redo anything they completed, since the work wasn’t up to par.
Instead, hire slowly and make sure you get the right person for the job from the start. If they eventually turn out to be a poor fit, don’t hold onto an arrangement that isn’t working. Firing is never an easy thing to do, but it will save you headaches, frustrations, money and potentially a negative attitude spreading among other employees. Remember, as a business owner, it’s your decision about who to bring on, who stays...and who you need to let go. Embrace that leadership position and take action swiftly.
Sometimes you might even need to bring on a new Registered Agent for your business to receive important documents, such as tax filings and legal dealings. You can have Incfile become your Registered Agent by simply ordering their service — they'll take care of the rest.
3. If You Wouldn’t Do It, Why Would You Expect Others To?
As a leader, you need to lead by example. Take one of the dirtiest jobs, for instance: cleaning the bathrooms. Not all businesses (regardless of size or structure) have a cleaning or maintenance crew. If you want all of your employees to respect you, do the jobs that no one thinks are fun. If they see you doing it, how can they get upset when it’s their turn to pitch in?
Use the "golden rule" here: Expect from others what they would also expect from you. It’s a simple concept, but there are definitely leaders out there who think they are “above” that kind of job. This is not showcasing effective leadership skills; don’t be that business owner. Instead, get your hands dirty and show it’s a team effort. Not only will your employees respect you, but they will feel more like a cohesive team if they see everyone taking part and pitching in to help where needed.
4. Leaders Don't Shut Down; They Communicate
Last but certainly not least on the list of leadership tips for business owners is communication. One of the most crucial things you need to do as a business owner is keep the lines of communication open at all times. A poor communicator will have people talking behind their back when things aren’t going well. If there is an issue with the business — big or small — it should be communicated professionally. Likewise, if someone isn’t producing results, that needs to be communicated as well in an attempt to remedy the situation before it spirals out of control.
In general, you should speak with your employees daily. Don’t hide in your office or walk past everyone when you arrive without communicating at all. That will only create conflict between you and your employees. You don't necessarily need to go out for a beer after work with your crew or host weekend retreats, but the simple act of being friendly and kind goes a long way. A team that communicates from the top down is a business that can fix issues before they turn into something much larger.