Unlocking success: key leadership skills
The perfect business idea is just one part of the equation when starting and leading a company. Hiring and managing your company in order to see your idea come to fruition is something else. The key leadership skills required to do so cannot simply be dreamed up overnight or put down on paper.
There’s a big difference between leading a team of people and getting the best out of them. Identifying their best qualities, skills, strengths, and teasing them out. This takes a long time, lots of initiative, as well as some empathy and understanding. Leadership is about people, getting to know your workforce and believing in their abilities. It doesn’t come naturally to us all, and when your business is on the line it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
What are the key leadership skills required to make your employees happy, grow your business, and foster a positive working environment, all while maintaining your integrity and wellbeing? The answers will largely depend on your own approach, as leaders do not simply follow the methods set out by others. But for the budding entrepreneur, a little inspiration goes a long way.
Lead by example
Out of all the key leadership skills this is perhaps the most important. And it all starts with you. Setting an example that others can learn from and work toward is crucial. This means listening to your employees, taking full responsibility, and providing solutions that will help them work better and achieve the example you have set for them. Don’t just tell them, show them.
Think back to your work life before you decided to branch out and run your own company. Become the leader that you would have wanted to be led by. Only then will others follow suit. When you were the employee rather than the employer, what would you have benefited from? You are now in a position where you can make all the changes you would have liked to see.
Did you find long meetings unproductive? Hold meetings that never last more than 30 minutes. Did you long to be heard? Dedicate time to regularly listen to the needs of your employees. Rather than preaching to your workforce about how to act, how to work, how to delegate time, just implement these changes into your own working life and show them how instead. Ultimately, it’s a lot easier to follow someone’s lead than it is to follow their orders.
As important as it is to provide employees with a clear outline of what you expect from them, remember to grant them some freedom. Be open to changes, accept new ideas, and listen. Freedom to work and develop under a strong guiding figure will keep your employees happy. Here at Uncommon, we demonstrate that a happier workforce is a more successful workforce.
We all make mistakes. Making mistakes is healthy: often it is the only way to learn something. It’s easy to become frustrated when others make mistakes under our leadership, especially when our investments are on the line. But frustration and anger are not productive responses. Mistakes will happen, no matter what. Messing up is an unavoidable aspect of working life, but they are also an opportunity.
Although offering support may not be your most natural response to the mistakes of others, reacting impulsively and angrily will only foster an air of nervousness and distrust – both of which lead to a less successful workforce. Bite your tongue, and turn the mistake into a lesson.
Support should also make up a crucial part of employee development. No matter how qualified, your employees should never stop learning and progressing as workers. Howard Schultz, executive chairman and founder of Starbucks, spends more money on training his workforce than on advertising as this engages and satisfies his employees. Make development a priority. Both you and your employees will benefit from training courses and team building exercises.
Although large scale courses and events may be unattainable when you first start a business, this does not mean that development must fall by the wayside. Try looking towards some development workshops and networking events which will benefit your team at a lower cost. There are endless options available through services like Eventbrite or Team Tactics, and the Business Centre in the British Library offers a range of free and low cost workshops and events.
When your employees are continually learning, it will be far easier to effectively practice your key leadership skills.
The importance of transparency
A transparent workspace is a healthy one. Keeping everyone in tune with the internal workings of your company is integral to building a sense of trust between employer and employee. Leadership is as much about honesty as it is about guidance. If you’re running a small team, communication may seem easier but you still to designate time for sharing ideas and problems.
Make sure that nothing is missed or miscommunicated, as nobody wants to be left in the dark. Holding regular team meetings allows your employees to share their achievements and goals, and employers to communicate any progress or change the company may be experiencing. Employees who know more about their company will be more willing to take part in its growth.
It is your responsibility as a business leader to control exactly what your employees know about. Not enough transparency and they will be less inclined to show up and do their very best, whereas more transparency ensures higher morale and better performance across the board. Your company is their company too. Individual employees are entitled to know what kind of impact they are having on the bigger picture.
Don’t go it alone
Leadership is often portrayed as a solitary affair: one person single handedly making all the important decisions and shaping the business all on their own like some kind of puppet master. But just because you’re the boss, that doesn’t mean you have all the answers to everything.
The key leadership skills required to guide your company to success aren’t learned overnight. This requires patience, determination, and most importantly help from others around you. Business is all about collaboration and community. Leaders should be talking their employees, sharing ideas and solving problems together while working towards one common goal. Success. An ongoing dialogue within your company helps keep the gears turning.
Leaders should also be seeking advice and inspiration from others outside of the workplace. When office dilemmas become overwhelming, take a step back, relinquish your responsibilities, and make the most of advice from your close friends and family. You may be standing too close or thinking too hard to see the real solution. For advice on more complex or specialised matters, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from professionals who know more about the smaller details. Outsourcing this responsibility early on will help you in the long run once your business grows.
Here at Uncommon, we care about how you feel at work. Our creative coworking spaces are designed with your wellbeing in mind. Every single detail helps create an environment in which you can feel good about where and how you work. Visit our locations in Borough and Highbury & Islington to experience our unique vision of working life.