Top 7 Leadership Tips For Small Business Owners

By Silvia Pencak

Running a small business requires leadership – a skill to influence people. As you promote your business, negotiate deals, grow your team, you need a great dose of intentionality around how you show up and get stuff done. Following are 7 tips to help you be more intentional and achieve greater results with less stress. 

1. Have and communicate a vision

Inspiring vision touches people’s hearts, inspires your team to achieve greater results and your customers to spend money with your company. Vision must be communicated properly and often in order to impact others. As a leader, ensure that your people (team, customers, vendors, etc.) know what you expect, what you stand for, and what you care about. 

2. Lead by example

People don’t do what you tell them to do, they model your behaviour as a leader. To create a culture you desire to see in your business, you must show it in your daily life. Choose to do the things you require. Be a person of character. Expect more from yourself than you do from others. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Model the desired behaviour and you will inspire others.

3. Set & protect boundaries

In the words of Henry Cloud, leaders must be “ridiculously in charge”. It’s not enough to lead by example. You must also protect your business from negative forces – undesirable behaviour, action or communication breakdowns. As a leader stop sweeping problems under the carpet and instead, point at the elephant in the room: address and resolve the challenges.

4. Delegate

If you struggle with delegation, you are not alone. It isn’t easy to let go and trust others with tasks that you can do. But great leaders understand that their capacity is limited and by delegating tasks to others they actually increase this capacity. When you bring someone else alongside you double the time available to you. And better still, if you find people who do the work better than yourself, you will more than double your capacity. Which brings me to the next point.

5. Hire great people

By hiring great people I mean hiring people who are the “Right Fit” for the job, team and organization. They have the necessary knowledge and experiences, they are motivated and have the right attitude, but they also have the right strengths that will move your team forward.

6. Recognize

Recognizing talent, contribution and achievement is essential to your business success. You will always get more of what you recognize & reward. Pay close attention to your people. Notice even slight improvements in behaviour, performance, focus on building a momentum of great results and powerful teamwork. Recognizing the good will diminish the undesirable results or weak performance (warning: you still shouldn’t just tolerate those, but deal with them). Just ensure that you are being fair. Look at individual achievements, effort, commitment and reward based on personal strengths, not against them. 

7. Communicate proactively & effectively

I left this one for the end, but communication is actually one of the most important leadership skills. As a leader you need to constantly improve your communication skills. To prevent creating ideas out of isolation, you need to create opportunities and invest time in listening to your people. You also need to be proactive in your communication. Prevent the rumours, address misunderstandings, resolve conflict. Don’t sit on it and hope for it to resolve itself. Things will only get worse! Build a good rapport with your people by being a person of your word. If you say you will do something, either do it or explain why it can’t be done. Don’t just dissolve it pretending the issue doesn’t exist.

Have you reached your full capacity as a leader of your business? I hope not. Being in a variety of leadership roles for over 15 years, I still haven’t arrived. There are many things I can still learn and improve. I hope you can see in yourself that  there is at least one area where you can step up your game and make things better for your business, team or customers.

Meet Silvia Pencak

Silvia Pencak

Silvia Pencak is the President of Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), Canadian nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating relationships between Canadian women-owned businesses and large corporate and government organizations across North America. WBE Canada promotes the economic advancement of Women Business Enterprises (WBEs). As a quality third-party certifying body of Canadian businesses that are 51% owned, managed and controlled by women, WBE Canada has been connecting them to large supply chains since 2009. To learn more about their initiatives, click here. You can connect with Silvia directly on Twitter.