Entrepreneurs are kind of in a funny position. Many of us start companies because we’re really good at something in our industry. We know we have valuable skills worth sharing with the world. But what many of us don’t realize is that starting a business means you need a variety of leadership skills, too—and those aren’t necessarily intuitive.
Leadership skills involve everything from motivating employees to setting realistic goals for yourself as an entrepreneur. You can be the best computer programmer, mechanic or artist in the world, but your business may have its fair share of struggle if you aren’t leading your team with confidence. The following five leadership skills may help you boost you and your team's effectiveness.
1. Work to your strengths, not your weaknesses.
Displaying great leadership skills doesn't necessarily mean that you’re in the trenches everyday, managing trivial details. If that were the case, who’s left to steer your company?
Recognizing that you may just be a big-picture person allows you to play to your strengths. Remember: You started your company because you have a unique talent. If a significant portion of every day isn’t spent using that talent, you could be missing opportunities that could translate into success for your company. Having people on your team to do the things you’re not great at—and looking for chances to leverage your skillset—can be a great way to develop your leadership skills.
2. Listen to your employees to boost your leadership skills.
For whatever reason, many entrepreneurs spend more of their time talking to their employees, rather than listening to them.
Leadership skills like active listening are incredibly important. If you’re not taking the time to listen, you may be missing important feedback that can help you steer your company more effectively.
3. Delegate tasks to your team.
Having good leadership skills doesn't necessarily mean that you're micromanaging your entire staff. The day you start learning to delegate is the day you take a step closer to effective leadership.
Great leaders can also accept that their employees may go about completing tasks differently than they would. Learn to live with a little uncertainty, because you can’t control for every possible outcome—and if you try, you may experience burnout. When you lighten up, you may discover that you’re happier and in the right frame of mind to be a better leader.
4. Hire people smarter than you.
Some of the smartest people I know hire folks who are even smarter than they are. Why? Because—as you’ve already learned—trying to do everything yourself can be hard. If you’re going to hire someone, then you should hire the best.
What can happen, though, is that insecure or inexperienced entrepreneurs may feel like their rockstar staff is getting all the glory. Trust me, though: You’re taking all that praise and glory to the bank. If you’ve hired great people and you treat them well, you’ll end up being glad.
Great leadership skills include heaping genuine praise on your staff. Let your clients hear you talking up your employees’ brilliance. Also know that you’re not taking advantage of your staff’s abilities. Assuming they’re fairly compensated, most folks would rather not own their own companies. They’re content to be paid, appreciated and leave their work worries in the office.
5. Put profit first.
It’s easy for entrepreneurs to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities they’ve taken on. You have a family that depends on you, and you have employees whose families rely on you as well.
Your leadership skills work to make you and your team happy. As you’re striving to make sure your staff is content, it can be easy to overspend on expenses that don’t actually benefit your bottom line. But you have a responsibility to run a profitable business so you can continue signing paychecks. Consider setting aside your company’s profits before you pay a single bill or employee. Taking steps to protect your company’s financial health can be worthwhile.
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