Leading your company is the most important part of being a start-up business owner. But given starting a business is a time-consuming and often stressful task, you might not have the time to really assess if you are truly leading well. So, how can you assess your leadership skills when you are short on time and energy? Read below to see a few helpful tips to strengthen and expand your leadership skills.
1. Be a Vision Caster
People who work for you will stay motivated and engaged if they are exposed to the company vision on a regular basis. But remember, vision alone is not enough. You need to have a clear implementation plan. Through this plan, your employees should be able to see how the company’s vision will be embedded in their daily work. It is extremely frustrating for employees, if you are constantly talking about the company’s vision, but there is no evidence that you are actually doing anything about it. If the people that work for you see that you pair your visions with tangible steps, they will have increased confidence in your ability to lead.
Here’s an example. I consulted with a business owner who was an amazing vision caster, but had no actual plans for how their vision would become a reality. There were always lots of great ideas, followed by even more great ideas. But I started to realize that their visions were constantly shifting and changing with the blowing of the wind. Staff became tired and their confidence in their leader, and the future of the company, eroded as a result.
If you have trouble connecting your vision to an actual road map, I’d suggest finding a business consultant (i.e. Reimer Collective!) who can talk you through some of these challenges. Consultants or mentors can breathe life into your vision and validate your ideas while guiding you to building the appropriate structure around them.
2. Lead by Example
If you don’t put in an effort, you can’t expect those working with you to either. Having been in a leadership role in numerous companies, I quickly learned that all eyes are on you. If you are not putting in the hours required to build and nurture your business, people will notice and follow suit.
Realistically, there should be no one in your business, or organization who outworks you. You are the leader and you set the tone. It’s up to us as business owners to demonstrate that we are doing everything we can to build a healthy company.
3. Be Culturally Responsive
We live in an increasingly diverse society. As business leaders, we need to know how to relate and effectively communicate to those with diverse cultural backgrounds. I’ve personally witnessed business leaders communicate to staff, and even clients, in an extremely insensitive and borderline racist way.
I’ve learned over the years that to keep your staff and clients feeling safe and valued, you need to be responsive to their culture. This means taking the time to learn about the people who work for you, including their backgrounds, the proper pronunciation of their names, the holidays they celebrate, and other details. Try your best to rid your speech and thought processes of cultural biases, stereotypes, and words/sayings that could be offensive to others. Just because your staff or clients don’t speak up when you say something insensitive, doesn’t mean they're okay with it.
If you need training and education in this area, search online for diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, or cultural responsiveness courses being offered in your area.