30 Entrepreneurs Offer Their Best Leadership Tips Advice

To be an entrepreneur and business owner, you have to understand leadership and be excellent at it. There are numerous qualities that make up successful leaders including being strong, visionary, reliable, audacity, empowering, positive, motivating, decisive and confident. While recruiting, hiring and finding talented people is important, it is just as important to manage and lead employees. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you build your leadership profile.

#1- Discipline and effective communication

Photo Credit: Folasade Ayegbusi

Discipline is required! Great leaders are almost the most disciplined out of the bunch. Effective leadership requires the leader to exhibit discipline, especially during the early years of business to build a strong working culture. Effective leaders communicate effectively. I believe communication is a driver of all the moving parts of every organization. I doubt any CEO would achieve great results if they couldn't communicate their ideas and ideals. For instance, a new product is being launched the CEO JAne tells David, she wants a monochromatic theme, however, Jane fails to convey to David the launch color scheme should be mono. What happens? The visionary's(leader) vision was lost in translation.

Thanks to Folasade Ayegbusi,!

#2- Instil motivation to the team

Photo Credit: Tara Fennessy

Relationships and results are the two core strategies that differentiate good and great leaders. If you can't communicate with your team, or instil motivation by understanding your team, the chances are you, and the business will suffer. My best tip for leaders is learn how to communicate successfully internally (understand your teams personality types by using tools such as DISC, then working to those characteristics to get the most from your team), and externally, know your message and how best to communicate this to add value and excel commercial results.

Thanks to Tara Fennessy, Leadership Skills Training Ltd!

#3-Find your own style

Photo Credit: Deni Ivanov

As I didn't get a formal education on how to be a leader or a successful manager, I had to learn from my mistakes in the past and by reading books on leadership. What I've learned is that books, seminars and trainings do little. They can simply nudge you in one direction or another, but you have to find your own style. So although that's not exactly a tip on leadership itself, my tip would be to try and make up your own style. I personally try to be as friendly as possible with all my employees and try not to intimidate them. A really important thing that is often overlooked by managers is being involved in the day to day work. This is one of the things that I try to do as much as possible. When your employees know you are involved in their work and have some sort of a grasp of what they do, they tend to perform a little better. It's not even important to really be involved in everything. It's enough to show them you don't leave things to chance. Even if you trust your employees completely, it's worth giving your input in their work, so they feel like even though you have hundreds of things to do, you don't overlook even the smallest aspects of your business. I often reply to reviews online, discuss complaints with the customer care team and just as often go out to check on our emplyees when they're in the field. This way you show your team that no job is too small, even for the CEO of the company, which makes them feel a bit better about what they do and pushes them to do it the best way possible.

Thanks to Deni Ivanov, London called Royal Cleaning!

#4- Set Great Goals Not Tasks

Photo Credit: Barry D. Moore

Micromanagement is the scourge of high performing teams and people detest it. Do not focus on the task, focus on the goal. This means you have to develop very clear and simple goals that are tied to your assigned business objectives. Therefore, your team or employees goals are also your goals. Ensure the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based (SMART) to get the most out of your staff.

Thanks to Barry D. Moore, Great work life!

#5-Talent Isn’t a war. It’s a space race.

Photo Credit: Tim Toterhi

For too long leaders have engaged in a war for talent, but like any war winning is a tricky proposition. Leaders often get suckered into a costly, never-ending cycle of buying marked-up talent from competitors and engaging in reactive, “pay-to-stay” compensation practices when even average-performing employees threaten to leave. Instead of perpetually feeding the meter for a coin-operated subset of transient employees, they should invest time in people managers who are best placed to keep the broader population engaged. The easiest way to reach for the stars is to develop a little managerial gravity. If employees are better in December than they were in January simply because they worked for you, chances are they will stay on your team. Sure, pay still matters, but in the end high-flyers want to work for someone who will help them, well….fly.

Thanks to Tim Toterhi, Plotlineleadership!

#6- Have empathy

Photo Credit: Safwan Khan

I believe one of the best qualities a leader can have is “Empathy”. Empathy will enable you to know if the people (employees, customers etc) you are trying to reach are actually being reached. It can help you as a business owner to predict the effect your decisions and actions have on the corse audience and adjust your strategy accordingly. Without having empathy it will be difficult to build and nurture a team as future leaders. In fact empathy can be used in any form – sales and negotiations as well. It allows you to know your targets desires and what risks they are willing to take.

Thanks to Safwan Khan, Startupily!

#7-Reputation is Priority ONE

Photo Credit: Susan Gonzales

Your reputation isn’t a skill or something that you can build overnight. Reputation is all about trust. If you’re an operator and have a reputation for being unreliable or untrustworthy, no one will want you to be on their team because you may very likely cost them their lives. Your reputation is something that you build over a lifetime. But it's not like a bank account – you don't get to treat it like a running balance. One integrity slip and your entire balance goes to zero. Even if you’re been reliable 9 times out of 10, it means that I may not be able to trust you on the one occasion that I need you; therefore, I’m going to trust and take a risk on the person who has never let their team or others down. That means, if you say you will do something (no matter how big or small the task), do it and do it well – ALWAYS. How you feel about someone or something doesn’t matter – it’s not about them; it’s about you and your reputation.

Thanks to Susan Gonzales,!

#8- Two tips

Photo Credit: Jennifer Harder

Being a great leader is not about you, it's about your business and the people you lead. You don't always have to be in control, and you don't always have to be right, but you do need to keep your vision in mind and nurture your team. If you can do this, your team will follow and willingly.

Thanks to Jennifer Harder, Jennifer Harder Mortgage Brokers!

#9-It's innate and pre-installed

Photo Credit: Rio Rocket

Natural born entrepreneurs are people who have the unique ability to generate seemingly endless amounts of energy and passion to put forth into a specific area or niche that truly motivates them from deep down. If you thought you were taught you just didn't know you had it in you in the first place. I do believe the part that can be taught is the business aspect of entrepreneurship but the ability to summon the large reserves of intestinal fortitude and wherewithal to work through pain, rejection, and those low moments is a genetic characteristic found uniquely in natural born entrepreneurs.

Thanks to Rio Rocket

#10-Create Camaraderie

Photo Credit: Nate Masterson

Staff perform at their best when they feel they are personally part of a team yet still given the tools to thrive as individuals. Most workplaces will say that they are a team, but team-building is an action, not a slogan. Many workplaces will have a team leader who tells everyone how important they are, without meeting anyone's personal needs. A true leader creates camaraderie naturally. Team-building isn't about patting people on the back, it's about seeing each individual for their contribution to the whole while not forfeiting their individualism. When people feel that their efforts and skills are appreciated, they are more likely to thrive. A high performing team knows each members strengths and celebrates them. When each person knows their strengths there is no competition, only teamwork.

Thanks to Nate Masterson, Maple Holistics!

#11- Be relevant at a point of crisis

Photo Credit: John Crossman

My best leadership tip is to be relevant at a point of crisis. When an employee has a death in the family, finds out they have cancer, or has a child arrested, that is the time to lean in and be helpful. It is at these moments where your team will see your character and will bond you at a deeper level than you can image.

Thanks to John Crossman, Crossman & Company!

#12- Lead from the front

Photo Credit: Jeremy Ong

I'm a firm believer that a leader (especially in a small business like mine) needs to lead from the front. I'm the owner of my company. Many times, getting my hands dirty in front of my team members inspires them to give in their all. The culture that I'm trying to instill is that there's no task below your pay grade.

Thanks to Jeremy Ong, HUSTLR!

#13- Fair and consistent decision maker

Photo Credit: Mike Smith

In evaluation of successful leadership one often looks to the results of whatever measurement was used to achievement. Quality and effective leadership is a process and not an event. With that in mind a critical approach is required. That factor being a fair and consistent decision maker. What that means is to make the same choice based on available information,no matter what the likely outcome. This shows the involved parties no favoritism in final resolutions. Too many times subjective influences create inconsistencies. Once this happens the credibility and trust is weakened and a subcurrent of unrest occurs. This leads to turnover and lack of initiative in the team.

Thanks to Mike Smith, SalesCoaching1!

#14- Never stop learning

Photo Credit: Thomas R. Harris

A team or company is only going to run to the level of effectiveness of the leader. If the leader stops growing, the team or company stop growing. Always be improving yourself. Never stop learning. If you keep growing, your effectiveness as a leader, your team, and your company will grow with you as well.

Thanks to Thomas R. Harris, The Exceptional Skills!

#15- Keep things in perspective

Photo Credit: David E. Nielson

Lighten up a bit and smile more often. Just smiling is contagious and it attracts people to you. You do not need to be serious all the time to be respected. I’m not suggesting walking through life with rose-colored glasses, but I am suggesting that a light-hearted outlook on life makes you more approachable when serious situations need your involvement. In his book, *Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose*, Tony Hsich says, “Things are never as bad or as good as they seem.” Be a leader who is approachable and always kept in the loop.

Thanks to David E. Nielson

#16- Be selfless

Photo Credit: Jesse Perreault

I truly believe that leadership comes down to a deeper understanding of people and their emotions. As a big fan of Simon Sinek's Leaders Eat Last its clear that to be a good leader we must be selfless. We must sacrifice for those around us so they can see our devotion and be inspired. This also comes down to the approach we take with our colleagues on a daily basis. For example, Someone is not performing…rather than saying Hey Jim, your numbers are down, you've really been slacking lately say Hey Jim, your numbers are down, is everything okay?. Leaders don't disregard the emotions of others, they also understand that our personal lives are interconnected to our professional lives & we care about their well-being.

Thanks to Jesse Perreault, Car Loans Canada®!

#17- Humility over control

Photo Credit: Sally Kane

One of the keys to becoming a great leader is to shift from a “command and control” mindset to approaching people from a standpoint of humility and openness. The more you can listen to those around you, engage with them and leverage their strengths, the more you can make sure everyone is successful. People are less likely to follow a leader person who wants to control or outmaneuver others than to follow someone who wants to build on everyone’s strengths to create a better organization. Being a leader does not mean you have all the answers; the most successful leaders are open to the help of others. Ask questions, seek out the resources you need to be successful and listen to the guidance and feedback of others.

Thanks to Sally Kane, PaperStreet Web Design!

#18- Failure is going to happen

Photo Credit; Thena Franssent

It's just the way that life is. What takes you from being an employee answering to someone else to an entrepreneur where you're only answering to yourself is how you overcome those failures when they happen. Instead of looking at them as roadblocks, instead, look at them as ramps that can propel you forward to something even better. With that mindset, you'll show everyone around you just how mentally strong and capable you are. And that is what proves you have what it takes to be a leader.

Thanks to Thena Franssen, HodgePodge Hippie!

#19- Manage yourself first

Photo Credit: Summer Jelinek

The best leadership tip that I have been given and that I continue to give is to manage yourself before you can lead others. Too many times a Leader is overheard saying “They are adults, why can’t they just act like it” or “I shouldn’t have to babysit”. The people on your team are human, just as you are. Your job as a leader is to be able to be a role model for what your team can and cannot do and to set clear expectations towards a common goal. If your employees must show up at a specific time or they are written up, then you better make sure you are showing up on time too. If your employees must check out with you before they can leave early, you should at least give them the courtesy of knowing when you leave early. Make sure you are holding yourself to a higher standard than you hold your employees. Because they will be watching, and you will be setting an example for what they can and cannot do. “Do as I say, not as I do” is no longer an acceptable form of leadership.

Thanks to Summer Jelinek, Summer Speaks, LLC!

#20- Keep yourself organized

Photo Credit: Beth Tucker

There are myriad leadership tips I could describe, but I find that sometimes the most useful advice is the simplest. To that end, my advice is to keep yourself organized. I do this by keeping a list – yes, it's that simple. Every day I make a list of things I have to do and items I need to discuss with staff. As I complete each task, I cross it off. As more priorities arise, I add them to the list. As a leader, if I'm not organized then I'm doing my staff a disservice. By keeping my priorities straight, I can keep the team moving forward and I can also adjust quickly to changing priorities without losing sight of the big picture.

Thanks to Beth Tucker, KNF&T Staffing Resources!

#21- Review Tasks Regularly

Photo Credit: Chris Piggott

Reviewing Tasks Regularly One of the best steps I took was reviewing my responsibilities quarterly. I'll take the time to write down what I am engaging with over the course of a few days. I then review after a week what of these tasks are not high skill /high-value tasks. The low skill, high value tasks can be delegated to another member of staff. I will then carefully review the low skill, low value jobs and take a view if we should even be doing these. This ensures that i spend my time delivering value back to the business. Whilst it's not always possible to stick to this – it maintains focus of what I should be working on.

Thanks to Chris Piggott, Synextra!

#22-Having a positive attitude

Photo Credit: Leanna DeBellevue

The one tip I have that has never let me down is getting the buy-in from your employees by modeling the behavior you wish to see. Anyone can be a boss, not everyone is a leader. Having a positive attitude when you walk in daily, greeting people by name, and taking a moment to connect with as many employees as possible has been key. As a leader, you set the tone for the day, and ultimately the company culture. We know problems arise, and when they do attack the problem not one another. I have been known to call company meetings to discuss an issue and tell them that I may not have the full answer but collectively we can come up with a solution. This has allowed team members to come to the table with a solution mindset rather than to just complain.

Thanks to Leanna DeBellevue, DeBellevue Global Marketing!

#23- Treat your employees better than your customers

Photo Credit: Janine Sickmeyer

The customer experience starts with your employees. Keeping people happy is a process—happiness trickles down from your employees to your customers. A few ways we make this happen at NextChapter is by participating in monthly team activities. We attend sports games together, take yoga classes, and have team lunches every now and then. If you're treating your employees well and encouraging engagement, they will turn around and do the same with your customers.

Thanks to Janine Sickmeyer, NextChapter!

#24- Two tips

Photo Credit: Steven I. Azizi, Esq.

The best leadership tip I have for new entrepreneurs is two-fold. One is to keep a keen eye out for talent; no one person can be successful alone and often times the most profitable companies are led by experts in many different fields. The next tip is to encourage your team to innovate and implement new strategies that will take the business to new heights. An effective leader can accomplish much more with an empowered group of to lead.

Thanks to Steven I. Azizi, Esq., Miracle Mile Law Group!

#25-Build relationships with mentors

Photo Credit: Chris Chancey

In a CEO job, it can be quite lonely but things tend to move quite fast too. Because you are in a leadership role, it is easy to feel like you should not ask for help but I cannot overemphasize the need to seek out and build strong relationships with mentors, people whom you can lean on for emotional, personal, professional support, people who can understand the challenges, immense demands, and dynamics of being in a leadership position and whom you can trust to help you successfully navigate this role. So as leaders, we should not be too shy or afraid to ask for help and look up to others who have succeeded in their own field. This could be the difference between coming out a winner and becoming overwhelmed by the challenges of

Thanks to Chris Chancey, Amplio Recruiting!

#26- Ask questions instead of giving answers

Photo Credit: Jared Bauman

Managers tell teammates what to do, but Leaders inspire teammates to do great things. One of the best ways to lead others is to ask questions rather than give answers. Asking questions does several things. For starters, it promotes critical thinking and problem solving, two valuable skills necessary in employees to grow a business. Second, it allows the person to be an expert, bringing their day to day expertise into play. Last, it properly positions you as the leader. You aren’t the boss with all the answers, but rather, you are the leader who just wants to make sure to get it right. That is inspiring, and allows others to rally around you.

Thanks to Jared Bauman, 201 Creative, Inc.!

#27- Trust your gut and instincts

Photo Credit: Jessica Rhoades

So many times in business we second guess ourselves or someone tries to talk us out of our answer. Trust yourself and your ability to gather information and make speedy decisions. The quicker you learn to do this the more confident you become and portray. It also helps develop a skill of making faster decisions. So many times in business, everything is delayed until a decision is made. No more analysis/paralysis. Your business moves forward with confidence.

Thanks to Jessica Rhoades, Create IT Web Designs!

#28- You don’t know what you don’t know

Photo Credit: Dr. Nicole Rankine

The best leadership tip I can give is, never stop growing. I have found that personal development and leadership training is critical to my business success. Being an entrepreneur is more than the business you start. It is the responsibility of the leader to develop and nurture future leaders, but you can’t do that if you can’t effectively lead yourself. To continue growing I have become a personal growth junkie. My mentor always says, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” I think when an entrepreneur continues to do what it takes to be the best version of themselves, the results can be explosive growth every year. Leadership/personal growth training is an important factor in making an organization successful. It is the art or process of influencing people. With the proper influence comes an increase in productivity, engagement, and retention. Without proper training and development, a leader simply cannot be effective.

Thanks to Dr. Nicole Rankine, The COLE Academy of Personal Growth!

#29- Know when to delegate

Photo Credit: Andrea Loubier

It takes a lot more to be a leader than organization and the right personality. In my many years as an entrepreneur and a CEO, I have learned that a good leader knows when to delegate. Not every leader is the best person to do every single job. If I don't feel as if I am 100% the most obvious person on the team to complete a task, I will delegate it to someone who has just the right skill set. Some CEOs have a difficult time letting go, and that's understandable. However, once I came to the realization that this was the most important thing for my company, I can now be available to focus my strengths where they are needed the most.

Thanks to Andrea Loubier, Mailbird!

#30- The best leaders are coaches

Photo Credit: Pamela McLean, PhD

In the old world of leadership, we relied on a hierarchical system that emphasized adding value by telling, advising and directing others. In today’s world, great leaders enable others to grow and develop by creating stretch opportunities and using a coaching approach that incorporates feedback into development and supports everyday learning.

Thanks to Pamela McLean, PhD, Hudson Institute of Coaching!

What’s your best leadership tip? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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