— November 1, 2018
From manager to creative, small business owners are used to wearing a lot of different hats with their startups. Balancing out the role means being able to act as a leader and that requires certain skills. Every leader may be different, but they do share several skills in common that allow them to break the mold and lead their team to success.
What kinds of leadership skills should you possess? I did a little research and found that great leaders share these skill sets.
1. Great Communicators
Technically you can become a leader without this trait, but you will not be an effective one. Who can successfully lead when their team is afraid or nervous to reach out to the company’s leadership?
Great leaders understand how to communicate with their teams. They know that not all individuals within a business are alike and need to tailor how they communicate accordingly. Some leaders may speak with their team members one-on-one in private meetings. Others may meet with them for group discussions or email their feedback.
Great communicators also listen. They pick up on nonverbal cues, like body language, as they would with verbal ones. Chat with each member of your team about communication styles. Let each person know how they can reach out to you and ask how they would like to be communicated with in return. Extend the same courtesy to everyone else you work with, from partners to customers, and be timely and authentic in how you communicate together.
2. Problem Solvers
Great leaders don’t see problems as obstacles. A problem, or even a mistake, has a solution and can be fixed. Solving a problem may require a little strategic thinking and teamwork to accomplish, but it can be done. Even better, once the problem has been solved you’ve learned and grown from the experience.
There is no such thing as a business owner who does everything perfectly. Entrepreneurs learn from every mistake. These can range from “duh!” moments (like a tweet with a misspelling in it) to completely unexpected situations (like losing a major client). You can crawl into bed and hide under the covers from the problem. Or, you can face it head-on, come up with an answer, and fix it.
Business is an industry where entrepreneurs are taught to look after number one. They have long been told it’s a dog eat dog world out there, and the only way to get ahead is to be cutthroat and ruthless.
But, what if I told you this is just a harmful stereotype? I’ve long embraced positivity as a small business owner and I can’t imagine running a company with any other attitude. Being positive is about more than seeing the glass half full. It disarms so many because it’s not expected. That’s a great thing, actually, because it turns entire mindsets around.
Positivity and optimism, especially when it’s genuine, is contagious. If you walk the positive walk and talk the talk, you’ll find it attracts like-minded individuals towards you and your business.
4. Emotional Intelligence
This is a leadership skill that has only recently become embraced with business leaders. Emotional intelligence turns the thought of traditional intelligence — that individuals with a high IQ are the smartest in the room — on its head. Defined as the other kind of smart, emotional intelligence seeks out individuals that are empathetic and able to handle interpersonal relationships.
While emotional intelligence is largely intangible, it’s a huge asset to anyone in a leadership role. When you possess “EQ” traits like these, you are able to better motivate your team, solve conflicts fairly, and adapt to changes and setbacks.
Creativity may be the most important skill a business owner can have. When a leader is creative, it creates a domino effect throughout the organization. Your creativity can inspire others to think outside of the box and brainstorm new ideas!
Think of your business as a melting pot. Each individual has something great to contribute that will benefit the company in the long run. The best leaders know how to nudge this out of their team and help them flex their creative muscle to go above and beyond.