Shaun Thompson, CEO of Sandler Training UK on how to become a great leader
Every entrepreneur starts their venture with a great idea; however successful business owners recognise that it takes a lot more than a brilliant concept to make a business really work. Running a thriving business often means that you need to be all things to all people – and perform job functions that you don’t have experience in.
So while you may have started the business being an excellent salesperson, a dynamic marketer or an outstanding accountant, your role will soon evolve, And in terms of priorities, the most important skill to develop is how to be a first-class leader – to motivate and get the best out of the people you recruit.
The absence of strong leadership within a business can create unnecessary frustrations and challenges including loss of sales, client issues, financial concerns and trouble with employee management. The good news is that leadership skills can be learned and, once mastered, can have a dramatic impact on the overall success of a business and staff morale.
Here are some top tips to set you on the right path :
• Know your limitations: The first step is to recognise your limitations and the skills you need to improve. This is critical because good leaders need to be able to share their vision and lead by example. Improving your skills will help you provide direction for the team, develop the optimum environment, and equip your team with tools to achieve the required results.
• Be a good communicator and an even better listener: Business leaders need to be able to communicate well if they are going to successfully share their vision. Not everyone is naturally good at communicating, therefore it is important to practice and keep clear objectives in mind in order to communicate with ease. Start by being clear about what you want to communicate, be sure to anticipate the receiver’s viewpoint, and above all be open to ideas and prepared to listen to and value constructive feedback.
• Take action and accept responsibility: As a business owner you are ultimately responsible for the overall performance of your business and its team. Making decisions and accepting responsibility for the results is an important part of being a leader.
• Be open to suggestions: Be sure to seek advice from your team and try to find in-depth specialist advice when relevant. Empower people to take ownership and have confidence in their abilities to deliver.
• Supervise and delegate effectively: Successful leaders understand that they cannot micro manage and oversee everything; therefore it is essential to use the expertise of the entire team to achieve overall objectives. To do this, leaders need to be clear about their expectations, equip their team with the correct tools and training to do the job, and be effective supervisors – communicate your needs, be clear about your expectations, and support them in solving issues rather than doing it for them.
• Mentor and motivate: Great leaders understand that their employees play a fundamental role in determining if a company will survive or fail. In order to sustain a successful organisation you need a diverse team of talented, happy and motivated employees. Invest in your staff by mentoring them on a regular basis. Recognise and reward those that do well, and seek to understand the underlying reasons for poor performance so you can deal with them effectively and efficiently.
• Set the tone: As a business leader your employees will look to you for guidance and support, therefore you must lead with your actions and your words. The actions of a leader set an unspoken standards about what is acceptable and what is not. Part of your role is to inspire your staff to strive for excellence and in turn lead your company to greatness. In order to influence the attitudes and behaviours of staff, you must demonstrate and live the values you expect of others.
• Never stop learning: An effective leader understands that they do not have all the answers and that there are always lessons to be learnt. Being open to change and continually trying to improve yourself and your business is crucial to success. Never stop learning, ask questions, listen, and take time to explore all solutions and possibilities. Accept that you will make mistakes and commit to never making the same mistake twice.