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Do you own or help manage a small business? The rest of the staff probably looks up to you to set the tone for the operation. But not everyone is born to be a dynamic leader or is very good at it right away. Here are several suggestions for improving your standing.

  • Get yourself organized. Disorganization often leads to chaos in the office. If you are all over the place and out-of-sync, the operation will not run efficiently and smoothly. Being organized can lead to greater productivity from everyone else.
  • Lead by example. It is not always what you say; sometimes, it is more of what you do. For instance, you will have less impact if you are hardly ever around the office or you work behind closed doors. Get out in front and show the staff what you can do. Do not hesitate to roll up your sleeves and take on some of the “dirty work.”
  • Show your passion. How can you expect employees to be excited about coming to work if you are not? You can inspire others to perform better through your own passion and enthusiasm. That does not mean you always have to be upbeat, but you should demonstrate that you believe in the company’s mission and objectives.
  • Don’t hesitate to delegate. You cannot do everything all the time. Concentrate on what is most important to the business, and assign other tasks and responsibilities. Let employees take “ownership” of certain projects they are well suited for, and it will pay off in the long run.
  • Communicate with the staff. To paraphrase a saying among realtors, perhaps the three key aspects of being a good leader are communication, communication and communication. Of course, every manager knows the importance of communicating, but many forget to do it or only pay it lip service.
  • Listen carefully. Part of being a good communicator is being a good listener. Do not do all the talking. Keeping people motivated means listening to them, asking questions and understanding the issues. The more you listen, the easier it will be to respond effectively.
  • Know your employees. This is more than just learning their names. What makes them tick? What are their personal lives like? Keep track of basics such as birthdays, marriages, births and graduations. This will help establish a stronger connection with your workers.
  • Be brave. Sometimes you have to be the one who bears “bad news.” Do not shirk your responsibilities. Tackle problems head-on, and do your best to resolve them. You cannot simply “run and hide” from confrontations. Eventually, they will find you.

Leadership skills are not learned overnight. It may take time to grow into the role, but recognizing the need to improve as a business leader is a major step forward.