Of the roughly 28.8 million businesses in the U.S., about 23 million, or 80%, have no employees beyond the owner. However, the owners of the remaining 5.8 million are entrepreneurs who are also in the business of managing people. In fact, according to Small Biz Salute, being the boss is among the top five challenges that small business owners cite.
Below are key leadership qualities that entrepreneurs can cultivate to better manage their employees and become more effective bosses.
- Endless curiosity
Adopting the philosophy “there’salways more to learn” allows you to better understand the challenges and opportunities your team is facing. A boss’s curious mindset also reminds employees that learning never stops and subtly encourages them to try improving their performance.
Brainstorm ideas with your team and promptly delegate authority for new tasksto theappropriate team members. Skillin delegating gives youthe time and energy to devote to tasks that only the boss can do — e.g., establishing and adhering to the company’s goals and direction, high-level oversight, business development. Delegation also motivatesyour employees. Once they start working on an ideafor whose implementation they are responsible, check in with them from time to time about the progress they are making and the challenges they are facing.
- Don’t fix what’s not broken
When your team has developed functional systems don’t try to dismantle them just to leave your mark. There can be no growth or forward movement when the wheelis being continually reinvented. Plus, there are far better ways to make an impact.
- Master the basics
To be an inspiring leader, you must first become an integral part of the machine. Be encouraging,competent and helpful to the people you manage.
- Never forgetwho ownsthe business: You, not your employees
It’s easy to develop a patronizing or superior attitude when you are outworking your employees. As the business owner,you have the most to gain or lose,so naturally you are going to care more about your company’s successthan your employees. If you’re outperforming them,it’s probably not because they’relazy; they’resimply less incentivized than you.
Make sure that your expectations are realistic. It’s not realistic for employees to be as invested in the company’s success as you. Clearly, you don’t want to lower expectations much, if at all. Instead, put yourself in the employees’ shoes. Find ways to motivate them.Plan team-building events, incentivize performance, and listen carefully to find out what makes them want to do their best.It’s amazing how motivating a warmlydelivered recognition of a job well donecan be.Praise good work well and often, not just at annual review time.
According to entrepreneur.com, a recent survey found that employees who are highlysatisfied with management are much less likely to look for a new job than those with low satisfaction.So, when youhave a great employee, do everything you can to keep him or her engaged and happy. Looking in the mirror at “the boss” — is a great way to start.