Refining your leadership skills

14 December 2018 | Columns

As a small business owner, it's crucial to be a confident and effective leader, as this will establish your credibility in the eyes of your employees, the people you do business with and in your relevancy in the industry as a whole.

This is according to Gerschwyne van Wyk, country manager at Business Partners International, who says that very few people are born leaders, and in trying times, even the strongest of leaders sometimes struggle to present a brave face and lead successfully.

“Fortunately, leadership is a trait that can be learnt and refined as the entrepreneur’s experience of running a business deepens. After all, running a manager-owned business warrants both an aptitude for leadership and a willingness to learn,” he adds.

Van Wyk shares some tips to assist small business owners to boost their leadership skills.

Know your strengths, acknowledge your talents

Firstly, take the time to refine your leadership skills. When leading a company, it is important for a small business owner to work with their strengths and improve on weaknesses in order to boost their confidence. Remember: Don’t waste time worrying about what you can’t do and focus on what you can do.

Leave your comfort zone

Don’t allow fear to prevent you from reaching your full potential. When a business owner is complacent, it can filter down to the staff and impact the business’s performance.

Build trust and use your influence

Your role as a leader gives you the power to inspire and provide guidance. It is important to invest time to familiarise yourself with your employees, with the view to build trust and to know how to use your influence to get things done in order to increase productivity and effectiveness.

Be innovative

Don’t let obstacles get in the way of your success. Don’t be afraid to tackle problems head-on and be creative about finding solutions. This is something that should come naturally for entrepreneurs, as many of them are innovators, having recognised a trend in an industry or identified a shortcoming, and then proactively created a solution to capitalise on a demand or overcome the problem at hand.

Get a mentor

To further improve your leadership skills, small business owners may feel that they need outside help. Getting a mentor who has a proven track record of being a good leader can be done by identifying the traits you would like to build within yourself, and asking your mentor to help you. Mentors provide ongoing counselling and support, based on experience, knowledge, skills and wisdom.

Hone in on people skills

The need for an entrepreneur to have good communication and people skills cannot be overlooked. Assertiveness, approachability, conflict resolution skills etc. all go a long way in effectively managing employees, service providers and customers.

“It’s important that a small business owner realises that how the business and employees are managed, is one of the biggest contributing factors to a company’s success. As such, if the owner’s leadership skills are lacking, it is imperative to take appropriate action to improve these skills.

“However, determination, risk-taking, vision and the ‘readiness to do whatever it takes to realise the vision’ are all important character traits of an entrepreneur, and the solid foundation for strong leadership in a small business owner should not be underestimated,” Van Wyk added.

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