Magazine article Management Today

Accelerator: Take Charge - 20 Leadership Tips

Magazine article Management Today

Accelerator: Take Charge - 20 Leadership Tips

Article excerpt

When you're busy at the helm of a small business, it's easy to forget that as well as just running it, you need to lead it too. Not only will a good leader inspire and motivate employees to give of their best, he or she will keep a firm hand on the future direction of the business. Becoming an effective leader depends a lot on finding your own individual style, having a vision and giving your team the sense of purpose it needs. Corporates spend millions of pounds every year on consultancy fees and leadership development courses to ensure that their bosses are at the top of their game. It's unlikely that you've got this kind of budget to spend, so EMMA DE VITA offers 20 essential tips from the top to help you release your inner leader...

1. WHAT'S YOUR STYLE?

Fluffy though it may sound, it's worth taking time out to think about what kind of leader you are - or would like to be. The latest management thinking holds that the best leaders are those who, from a state of self-awareness, play to their strengths and try to improve their weaker points. Don't try to be something you're not. The days of wanting to be the next Jack Welch or Richard Branson are well and truly over - leaders who are true to themselves are respected by their team and find their job much easier. Remember that fakes are always found out. So spend time reflecting on your successes, but also on your failures. Work out what your personal principles and values are, and how they might be used to best effect in your business. It's important to be yourself.

2. BE DECISIVE

One of the quickest routes to undermining your authority is to dither when a decision needs to be made. It's better to make a speedy choice and correct it if necessary than not to make a decision at all. This doesn't mean that the decision-making should not be collaborative, but when a big decision needs to be made quickly, it's your job to make it Ask for advice and then think through the options, but come down on one side or another with the minimum of fuss.

3. IT'S NOT A POPULARITY CONTEST

You've got your own company, and at last, you think, you can be the boss you always wished you'd had. Right? Wrong. The temptation to be everyone's best friend, to joke around and be easy-going is huge, but don't do it. Much as you may think your employees want their best friend as a boss, what they really need is a leader they respect who can be trusted to move the company forward. A good leader will, inevitably, have to make unpopular decisions, and that takes courage. If you're not taken seriously in the first place, things can get really awkward, because practical jokers don't command respect. After all, would anyone actually want to work for a David Brent?

4. LEAD BY EXAMPLE

As boss of your own business, you'll be the one person that everyone else will look to for direction and - odd though it may sound to you - for inspiration. This is a big responsibility. Your behaviour will be witnessed and emulated, so you must set a high standard. If you enjoy what you do, you'll probably have an over-abundant supply of enthusiasm and dedication to your work, and these will rub off on your staff. Work hard and those around you will be motivated to go the extra mile too - but remember that not everyone wants to put in 20 hours a day. Respect that others have lives of their own and that the personal bond you have with your business might be less intense for them.

5. BE CONFIDENT

6. HIRE A GOOD DEPUTY

If you hire right, you'll find yourself supported by a senior team who not only complement your own skills but who are unafraid to challenge you. This is a good thing. Recruit to compensate for your own weaknesses and go with your instinct - it's better to hire someone who feels right than someone who has perfect qualifications. Look for people who allow you to be a good leader by taking on the management of the business and who have the energy, dynamism and creativity to give your company an edge over competitors. …

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