Advice

24 Entrepreneurs Offer Their Best Leadership Tips

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- Lead with empathy always

Photo Credit: Melissa Gruhin

As a leader and a business owner, it can be easy to lose site of what makes your business go when you’re worried about your bottom line and being successful. When it comes down to it, your success is directly contributed to the work people are doing on behalf of you and your business. Remember that everyone is human, with their own worries, wants, needs and desires. When you lead with empathy, you are able to see an issue, whether business-related or otherwise, from some else’s perspective. Showing that you care about your team goes a long way, and in the end, leads to a more symbiotic relationship and better business results.

Thanks to Melissa Gruhin, Two Halves Agency – A New Kind of Agency!


#2- Stay open to team feedback

Photo Credit: Aaron Agius

While you're out there trying to set and manage projects, your employees are the ones going through the grind. They have a lot of insights into daily work operations, and their feedback is invaluable in that regard. Listen to their feedback, take action, and grow together with the team. That's what all great leaders do and it worked so well for me.

Thanks to Aaron Agius, Louder.Online!


#3- Get the basics right

Photo Credit: Anurag Pal

My biggest tip for business people starting or running a business is to get the basics right. The lure of the startup and the adrenaline rush of making decisions, acting fast, and giving birth to new products and ideas is intoxicating. Figuring out the core that drives the business and making sure the essential that is non-core work well is what separates strategy from execution and from just ideas to a thriving business. That's why I started Escalon — to help companies put in place essential business services that will move a company from that startup/ideation phase to strong execution and delivering on their promise.

Thanks to Anurag Pal, Escalon!


#4- Be adaptable

Photo Credit: Ralph Severson

For me, the best thing to keep in mind when leading people is to be adaptable. When your team sees you roll with the punches and keep moving forward every time something goes sideways, they do the same. This approach results in a lot less time and energy wasted on frustration. Adaptability is the most important skill that any person can have.

Thanks to Ralph Severson, Flooring Masters!


#5- Constantly evaluate and tweak everything

Photo Credit: Manny Balani

Always ask yourself what can I do differently now that can improve the outcome? This is something that a leader should always ask himself. The times are changing, and you have to adapt to the changes. Most people who stubbornly adhere to the past are left in the dark. You have to incorporate trends and changes in your decision-making to succeed in today's world. You should constantly evaluate and tweak everything to make sure you improve. Never stagnate and always move forward. The people who can swiftly adapt to the new situation will be head over heels above everybody. And that will be your most significant advantage against all your competitors. Having the ability to adapt will allow you to transcend to the next level.

Thanks to Manny Balani, Gotham Cigars!


#6- Know and listen to your team

Photo Credit: Dr. Zachary Okhah

Getting to know your employees and listening to them is the best way to lead. Let them know you care about them and that you take their ideas and input seriously. Open communication and appreciation will build confidence in your staff and, in turn, create a stronger team.

Thanks to Dr. Zachary Okhah, PH-1 Miami!


#7- Delegate

Photo Credit: Thomas Smale

The power to change things and be an effective leader is created and practiced through cooperation, not through dominance and authority. Stop micromanaging and learn to delegate. Spend time on strategic tasks that will help scale your company. As a leader, know that you will have to adjust and improve your communication skills constantly. Don't forget that communication is a two-way street, and it's critical that your team members feel heard by you. Lastly, lead by example. Your leadership style will set the tone for the entire company. Make sure you show how and where you want your team to follow you.

Thanks to Thomas Smale, FE International!


#8- Be humble and do THIS with your staff

It’s easy to forget where you come from when you achieve success. Everyone was a beginner once so it’s important to remember this part when managing a team, and the biggest responsibility as a leader should be to serve others, and that includes your staff. Serve in a way to inspire change, to evolve, to collaborate. This is not to say you’re not in the business to make money, but you can also do this by being humble, so make sure to get on the floor with your employees and do some live customer service with them. You will rediscover the appreciation you have for them when you realize once again how challenging their jobs are on a daily basis.

Thanks to Travis McCain, General Steel!


#9- Ask and be open to feedback

Photo Credit: Abby Herman

When you work in a fast-paced environment that is marketing, you can sometimes forget to ask for feedback from your teams on how things should improve on next projects, campaigns, even seemingly small things like customer service disputes. But the biggest type of feedback is the one where they tell you how you can do better, how you can support and lead your team better. And be ready for negative feedback too, those are usually the most useful because it’s a place of learning and growth. If everyone is happy all the time at the office, maybe there’s something wrong, and encouraging engagement and feedback would be a great way to resolve anything before it even becomes a bigger problem.

Thanks to Abby Herman, Snap Agency!


#10- Say ‘Yes' to employees more often

Photo Credit: John Gardner

As the CEO, I am given the authority to make the final decision for a lot of important things. However, I like to see my team grow, surprise me and really take ownership. That's why whenever I can, I try to give my team the green light to go ahead with their creative ideas after they've done the research and have a good feeling about it. This allows us to grow as a company as well as make the team feel they can get creative and are part of something bigger.

Thanks to John Gardner, Kickoff!


#11- Developing a genuine appreciation

Photo Credit: Linn Atiyeh

Develop an appreciation for where people are. Leaders employ diverse individuals who have various skills, values, challenges, and goals. A great leader is able to speak the same language as all of these different employees by developing a genuine appreciation for their perspectives. Bosses often make the mistake of barking one-size-fits-all orders and expecting people to meet these expectations. By instead taking the time to truly understand where someone is coming from, you will have the power to lead them to be the best version of themselves.

Thanks to Linn Atiyeh, Bemana!


#12- Never give up

Photo Credit: Ramon van Meer

Being a leader is about not giving up when things get difficult. As an entrepreneur, I have faced many setbacks in my career. When faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, it can be very tempting to throw in the towel but I would not be where I am in my career if I was afraid of a challenge. When I started Alpha Paw in 2018 with my 11-year-old son Victor, I took it as an opportunity to teach him everything that I have learned about taking risks and pushing through hard times. I wanted him to know that no matter what challenges he may face, there is always a solution. Sometimes it takes thinking outside the box and being creative but the solution is never to give up. I am proud to say that Victor has the entrepreneur bug just like his dad and he recently launched his own business, Victor's Doggy Cookies, a company that donates meals to shelter dogs with every bag of cookies sold.

Thanks to Ramon van Meer, Alpha Paw!


#13- Become influential

Photo Credit: Seth Lytton

A great leader's more interested in influencing people than flowcharts and titles. Though a company can't survive without business details, a business can't thrive without an influential leader. Leaders that focus solely on dominance instead of influence will lose the respect of employees and customers, leading to the failure of the company.

Thanks to Seth Lytton, The Detroit Bureau!


#14- Several tips

Photo Credit: Scott Dettman

Leadership is not a destination, but rather a daily pursuit. The best leaders need to be unflinching and resolute in their mission and purpose while simultaneously remaining flexible in the means through which this mission is achieved. This is not to say that achieving a desired end result opens the door to any and all means, but it does mean that leaders need to create opportunities for others to develop the strategies and tactics to pursue the end goal. One’s ability to lead others is dependent on mutual trust. The leader must earn the trust of the team around them while also demonstrating that they believe in their team to play a vital role in the mission. Individuals will follow a leader with convictions and certainty around a vision so long as they get to have a say in how that vision is made a reality.

Thanks to Scott Dettman, Avenica!


#15- Maintain a good work-life balance

Working in a corporation many lifetimes ago made me realize very few employers cared about their employees' health and wellness. People were oftentimes overworked and underpaid, with no encouragement from the top executives to maintain a good work-life balance. Once I started my own business, I wanted to do the exact opposite, because I wanted my people, regardless if my team has 2 or 100 members, to not be unhappy at the workplace and I wanted to avoid burnout. With that in mind, I encourage my staff to maintain a work-life balance, to lead a healthy lifestyle, and to have hobbies. Therefore, we have a flexible schedule policy where our staff can have more control over when they work while adding some fun activities in between, whether it be learning to play an instrument, play a sport, or acquire new skillset. Their lives don’t revolve only around their work, and while I want them to be productive and efficient, I also want them to be healthy and happy in order to do so.

Thanks to Brian Kelleher, KillerGuitarRigs!


#16- Be prepared internally

Photo Credit: Kris Lippi

After all, to be a great leader, you should be able to lead within yourself first. To be empowered enough to lead a bunch of other people, you should first master yourself. Know your strengths and your weaknesses, know your leadership style and know your communication style. That way, you know that within yourself, you are prepared to lead. Therefore, you will be able to focus on being a leader and actually be good at it.

Thanks to Kris Lippi, ISoldMyHouse!


#17- Have a positive attitude

Photo Credit: Peter Horne

My tip for being a great leader is to have a positive attitude. It’s easy to forget just how much your attitude towards things can affect other people’s work, and so many leaders go into situations with a negative or overly assertive attitude, often dulling their teams’ morale. Of course, you can’t always be the “yes” leader and you’ll need to be realistic. But try to promote positivity through your own actions, and your team will likely follow your lead (even when they’re facing tough challenges). This is something that the leaders at our law firm often do, and our lawyers feed off of that positivity in order to get the best results for our clients.

Thanks to Peter Horne, Geoff McDonald and Associates!


#18- Do tasks in batches

Photo Credit: Christopher Clarke

Stay motivated and resourceful in every situation. Don't let what you cannot do stop you from what you can do. Some may call this a stoic approach since you doing what you currently are able to do for your business, rather than worrying about things that you cannot affect. This idea also trickles down into the work mindsets of employees and pushes them and yourself to innovate and move with the possibilities at hand. This has been a defining principle during the pandemic to uplift my spirit and the people working with me.

Thanks to Christopher Clarke, PlanM8!


#19- Be passionate

Photo Credit: Sylvia Silverstone

Being a leader requires you to become an example for those who follow you. This is where you need to be passionate about every positive thing you’re trying to inject your team with. Passion drives an individual to achieve the unattainable, go down the road that others fear taking, and set an example for others to follow. By setting an example of being passionate about your goals, you’re guiding others to follow the same path. Passion brings life to the energy inside you, which you need to make the required efforts in life.

Thanks to Sylvia Silverstone, Womenio.com!


#20- Be open to learning

Photo Credit: Neil Grant

As a leader, we oftentimes think that we already know enough. But that’s far from the truth, the business world is ever-changing and dynamic. So, there might be things that are working well today but can be obsolete tomorrow, so never stop learning. That’s how we thrive in this highly competitive field.

Thanks to Neil Grant, Dalvey!


#21- Uphold your values

Photo Credit: Michael Waxman

As a business owner with very specific values, I find that upholding those values is incredibly important. Your employees have chosen to work for you and have therefore taken on those values as their own, without much prior impact on your value choices. Incorporating your values into how you run your business. If you value your consumers' health and wellness, make sure you value your employees health and wellness. They help make your business run successfully and deserve to be treated as such. When leaders show respect towards their employees, that same respect is reciprocated back towards the leaders. Put in the time to show how much you value and respect your employees, your business will excel in response.

Thanks to Michael Waxman, Sundays for Dogs!


#22- Make an effort to be a good follower

Photo Credit: Dr. Pooneh Ramezani

It is one of the most important and underappreciated parts of leadership. Being a good follower and continuously benchmarking yourself against people you desire to be is the best way to develop. As you follow in the footsteps of the most successful leaders and learn from their successes, you'll learn to alter your reactions to your superiors and the issue at hand, as well as get insight into how to interact with your team. As a follower, you learn to support and advocate for strong leadership while also learning what makes bad leadership and what people seek in a leader. By keeping the company's leadership on course, a good follower may effectively mould and have a beneficial impact on them. Being a good follower takes a lot of guts and integrity, and those who follow these standards will not only be effective employees, but will also be well on their way to being character leaders. That is probably why the finest leaders are usually the finest followers.

Thanks to Pooneh Ramezani, Dr. Brite!


#23- Control your emotions

Photo Credit: Matt Weidle

Emotional management is one of the most critical recommendations we can give if you want to be a successful leader. Your coworkers can't tell if you're upset or emotional. Because no one wants to follow an emotional wreck, there must be a balance and excellent causes for these feelings to come through. This takes a lot of effort and experience in real-life circumstances, but it's simple to master once you figure out what triggers which emotions. Gaining clarity on the function and purpose of leadership is critical to operating at the speed necessary today. We also require a set of guidelines to guide us. Making decisions and pushing forward in times of uncertainty is a terrific method to alleviate worry and anxiety. A set of guiding principles might assist us remember what we should be doing.

Thanks to Matt Weidle, Buyer's Guide!


#24- Be Goal-Oriented

Photo Credit: Jason McMahon

I'd say that a good leader should be goal-oriented.  A company can face a variety of issues from time to time. A good leader constantly concentrates on the solution rather than the problem. A leader's weapon is prioritization, and they use it to focus their efforts on solving problems and completing urgent tasks first. A successful business is regarded to be led by a thoughtful and goal-oriented CEO. Smart leaders use project management techniques to overcome roadblocks so they can focus on the end goal they set out to achieve. Instead of worrying and complaining about problems, a smart leader would plan and strategy to fulfill the organizational vision.

Thanks to Jason McMahon, Bambrick!


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(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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