Good leadership skills are indispensable to running a successful business. You can’t fulfill your role without a strong team backing you, and your leadership will dictate morale, productivity, and overall office culture. From the employee-perspective, we’ve rounded up six leadership skills that we have encountered in business owners who are both successful and popular among their team.
1. Show Empathy (But Not Too Much)
Displaying empathy towards your employees may seem like a no-brainer, but there are some leaders who cannot master this skill, or who demonstrate overactive empathy. Cars break down, grandmothers pass away, and big life events will inevitably distract your employees from their work. If you create an environment where it’s safe to tackle personal matters, it establishes a trusting relationship. On the reverse side, be aware if there is one employee with the same problems over and over again, as their peers will also notice. Getting stuck in traffic can only be an excuse so many times until the office catches on to the fact that this person is not planning their commute effectively.
2. Practice Individualized Celebration
Were you ever the student in a group project who did all the work, and then resented your teammates because they received the A that you earned, but didn’t work for it? Of course, you are, you're a business owner! It can feel that way when you’re part of a team as well. Recognizing individual employees for their efforts on a project is a great way to make them feel valued and show that their leader is paying attention to the details. To take this concept one step further, brainstorm ways to make the praise personalized. If you know their favorite drink at Starbucks, pick it up for them, or if you know they hate to do their laundry, purchase them a gift card to a laundry service. These small touches will go a long way!
3. Give Employees Your Full Attention
Speaking of attention, another way to show your team that they are important is to give your full attention when it has been scheduled. If you’re in a meeting, avoid checking your email or looking at the alerts on your phone. Set a timer, place your phone upside down and give the meeting your full attention. Trust me, they will notice if you’re distracted!
4. Be Comfortable Providing Frequent Feedback, Both Good and Bad
It’s not necessary to always deliver positive and negative feedback in a formal manner. Some employees will respond better to frequent check in’s for both the good and the bad. As long as you are tactful and confident in your delivery, they might appreciate this direct feedback style more than a formal review. It takes the pressure off and gives your employees the opportunity to improve.
5. Remain Adaptable to Change
The most dangerous words in the English language are… “we’ve always done it this way.” Some leaders may feel a sense of ownership over the business they created and feel resistant to changing processes that have worked from the beginning. Understanding that a new set of eyes and a different perspective is beneficial to your strategy is essential for growth. Practice being open to change and listen to your employees when they present a new idea.
6. Respect the Fact That Your Dreams May Not Be the Same as Your Team’s
Among your team, you probably have a wide variety of answers to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The reality is not everyone is going to answer with “working for you for the next 35 years,” and you shouldn’t want that. Employees who dream big will accomplish great things in their time with your company. That being said, it’s important to note that while you may absolutely love to work and talk about your business at all hours of the day, your employees may not have that same intention. Be respectful of their time outside of work and support their goals outside of work. They will end up feeling more fulfilled in the long run!
As you establish yourself as a leader within your team, it’s important to put these skills into practice to nurture a positive relationship with your employees. The key takeaway is that a customized approach to each employee is the best approach. Communication styles, priorities, and quirks will be different for each employee, and taking the time to learn what strategies work best for your team is a great investment.
Story by: Sophie Duncan