Entrepreneur Library

Be a Great Leader in Your Small Business

Be a Great Leader in Your Small Business

By Samantha Garner, GoForth Institute

August 27, 2010


Your business is booming and, almost without noticing it, you’ve found yourself the manager of a small team of employees. Small business leadership is similar to any other kind of leadership – you must make the high-level decision, inspire employees to be their best and keep a cool head. However, small business leadership does have a few particular differences: Change comes quicker to a small business; communication and recognition come easier; and there is often a greater workload divided among fewer people. Being a great leader in your small business means learning a few essential skills.


Manage risk and make decisions effectively

You’ll face both unexpected and planned decisions along the way, and it’s critical to display strong leadership to your employees in these situations. Here are some key tips to help you manage risk and make effective decisions:

  • Have a clear understanding of the decision to be made.
  • Consider the vision and values of the company.
  • Evaluate the consequences and outcomes of your decision.
  • Brainstorm as many alternatives as possible.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of each alternative.
  • Be sure the appropriate person is making the decision.
  • Understand the timeline in which the decision must be made.


Lead by example

It’s a bit cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. If you’re always late for work or unprepared in meetings, why should you expect your employees to be any better? Nobody’s perfect, but a great small business leader is one that inspires employees through action. As a small business leader, you are naturally more visible to your employees – no hiding in a corner of a giant corner office for you! Show your team what values and actions you expect out of them and why they should look up to you.


Have thick skin and be assertive

Even if you are a naturally empathetic leader, you still need to be the one in charge. Learn to take criticism well and be assertive and confident on the job to help you gain respect and motivate others. Your employees are likely doing more work than their counterparts at larger companies, so it’s up to you to mitigate stress levels and encourage productivity through assertive leadership.

However, remember to stay approachable – a leader that is accessible and open to new ideas is one reason many people choose to work at a smaller company.


Trust in your team

You’re the boss, but that doesn’t mean you should hog all of the leadership. Delegate tasks and responsibilities when needed. This shows your team you recognize their value and the superior results that teamwork can often produce. Show maturity in your daily activities by putting your own recognition secondary to that of your employees and company. We know this business is your baby, but without happy and productive employees, you might find you won’t have any business at all.


Samantha Garner is an award winning writer, editor, self-professed word nerd and leads GoForth Institute’s  corporate communications department.  Contact Samantha by email: samantha@goforthinstitute.com

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