Establishing a business takes tenacity, creativity, and determination. When it comes to leading a company, you need a different set of characteristics to ensure a prosperous and healthy working environment.
Without effective leadership, all other aspects of the business will deteriorate. A strong business leader will make sure that productivity is maximised and that the right people are hired for the job.
Five skills can help make you an effective business leader:
Communication Is Key
Good leadership is complete transparency and ensuring that all employees are in the loop with the activities in the business that could affect them. Imagine this: There have been retrenchments at a company. Of course, there is chatter amongst employees. No one has communicated anything, and now the rumours are running rampant throughout the office. This causes anxiety and distrust among staff members.
In this case, good leadership is letting staff know about why the retrenchments have taken place (to help with rumour control) and to ease their uncertainty going forward. How you communicate this is also important. Will an email work? Perhaps, but maybe chatting to them in person would be better.
When you communicate to employees, always be clear and concise – whether it’s in email form or face-to-face. You’ll find that employees will be more engaged and motivated once they share your vision.
Be Very Supportive
When you think about leadership, the word ‘supportive’ isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Traditionally, leaders would assign employees a task and have them run with it. With supportive leadership, it involves collaboration and continuous mentorship.
Why does this style of leadership work? There’s a saying that people leave bad managers and not a job. In today’s workplace, employees want to feel valued, supported, and work on something that will make an impact. Supportive leadership means that you are showing a general interest in the employees that work with you, and by doing this, you gain their loyalty.
Traditional leadership would say that empathy is a weakness. However, in today’s workplace, empathetic leadership can help cultivate a harmonious working environment. How do you lead with compassion? By really listening to your employees’ needs. This means paying attention to your body language, your tone of voice, and taking note of the emotional tone of your employees’.
Empathetic leadership also means being present and providing everyone with a voice to air their concerns. For those who lead traditionally, this could be a waste of time. However, by actively listening to your employees, you gain their loyalty, and in turn, they are motivated to achieve business goals.
As a business owner, you’ll be making plenty of decisions – everything involving finances to hiring. Some of the decisions will be uncomfortable, which is why effective decision-making is an essential skill within the leadership.
So what does effective leadership decision-making entail? It means a leader will look at the facts and always explore the best options when it comes to a solution. A good leader will also be confident in their decisions and never procrastinate.
Is it better to work for yourself or work for a company? It’s a lively debate had at many dinner tables, with no concrete answer. There are great benefits when it comes to working for yourself and better rewards when working for a company. Let’s take a look at the advantages for both cases to help you decide on which works best.
Making a case for the entrepreneur
The unemployment rate in South Africa sits at 26.6%. While this is not the most favourable number for our economy, the number has improved steadily – due in part to the steady entrepreneurship activity.
Entrepreneurs are ‘jack of all trades’. If they’re working by themselves – especially starting out – they’ll need to be experts in finance, project management, and really know how to build a network. Some love entrepreneurship because it offers:
How many times have you sat at your desk and thought about how different you would approach a project? Entrepreneurs live for this type of freedom because they have the chance to build something the way they want to and have their own direction. An entrepreneur gets to decide if they want to work solo or if they want to hire a small team.
Building your own business also means building your own company culture. You get to decide on the work environment that is most comfortable for you. If you do decide to start hiring, you can employ people who are comfortable with your company culture.
Some people work better in the morning while others feel more productive during the evening. As an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to decide for yourself. If you feel like sleeping in during the day, maybe go for a run, and work the ‘night shift’ – then that’s perfect! Some entrepreneurs like to get an early start and unwind during the afternoons. This is especially ideal if you have a family.
With the right resources, you can have optimum flexibility that some workplaces won’t allow. If you’re in need of a rest day – to avoid burnout and proper work/life balance – you’re allowed to do so without any hassle.
Being an entrepreneur means that you’re involved in all facets of your business – marketing, finance, HR, etc. This allows you to develop your skills professionally and personally. The entrepreneurial journey is a continuous learning curve and it’s skills that you won’t necessarily get to learn in any other position within an organisation.
Making a case for the employee
The 9-5 lifestyle has been getting a lot of hate but with more companies offering flexible hours, people are enjoying heading to work in the morning. The workforce is getting younger, which means employers are more aware that they need to tend to their employees’ wellbeing, in order to boost productivity.
The ‘9-5 employment’ environment has the following advantages:
As mentioned before, employers are more aware that employees’ wellbeing should be at the forefront. You work a set of 8 hours during the day and thereafter, you get to go home and enjoy the rest of your day until the next morning. Unlike most entrepreneurs, weekends are for family time, which allows you to switch off for a few days until you have to pick it up again on Monday.
Stable income and benefits
You know your monthly income – it stays the same. You’re never left guessing if this month you’ll have a decrease compared to the previous month. With a stable income, it’s easy to set a budget and savings. Most companies also offer benefits (medical aid, pension, petrol allowance, etc.) which doesn’t take too much out of your income.
You’re spending eight hours with a group of people who come from different walks of life. This type of exposure in the work environment is great and helps you grow as a person. In fact, some of your best friends are made in the workplace. They’ve been in the trenches with you and celebrate all your wins. A work friendship is often the best because these people will encourage you on an off day.
While entrepreneurship is often glorified, the working environment is also changing. What you choose is entirely dependent on your personality. Either way, you have the chance to develop a professional skill-set.
Not all leaders are created equal. Each business has different requirements and effective business management need varying leadership qualities to ensure success.
There are five different leadership styles that entrepreneurs and managers usually use. It is important for any aspiring leader to know the different styles in order to identify their own, or to be able to adapt should the business require it.
This leadership style involves input from all employees, resulting in a decision that reflects the majority’s views. For example, if there is a company-wide problem, managers will inform the staff and a majority vote will determine the solution.
Why this works
It’s a lengthy decision-making process, but it has its benefits. It improves employee morale as they are given a voice and feel like their opinion matters. With participative leadership, employees will start taking an active role within the company and are more willing to accept workplace policies.
Famous participative leaders include Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America. When Toyota vehicles were recalled, Lentz appeared on a website Q&A to field any questions customers had.
The downside is that if a decision needs to be made fast, the participative style might not work as the participation process takes time.
What is an autocratic leader?
Autocratic leaders will inform everyone of a clear goal and will tell you how to get there. Everyone understands what role they play and are provided with guidelines if they need. Unlike participative leadership, if a new strategy is implemented, there is no input from subordinates. All goals, procedures, and tasks are decided by the leader and will be delegated amongst everyone. The team faces dire consequences if goals are not met.
Why this works
Firstly, if decisions need to be made quickly, autocratic leaders can make decisions without any pressure or stress. If there is a clear chain of command in the workplace, tasks get done more efficiently. This leadership style is also beneficial if you have employees who need extra guidance and rigid processes. The disadvantage of an autocratic leader is that there is often a divide between employee and employer in the workplace. This often leads to a hostile work environment and high staff turnover.
Famous autocratic leaders include businesswoman Martha Stewart, who was once described as a “scrupulous and meticulous boss”. However, Stewart has built a global empire using this leadership style. Director Ridley Scott is also considered an autocratic leader. He is known to be a perfectionist and expects his actors to know their positions and lines. This has worked well for him considering his box office success.
What is a Laissez-Faire leader?
‘Laissez-Faire’ is French and loosely translated it means ‘do as you will’. In terms of leadership style, it’s more laid back. This approach allows teams to explore creative strategies and drives innovation. You will usually find this kind of leader in a creative environment, where deadlines are not crucial and team members manage themselves. Employees are given the resources they need and what they do with it is up to them. The leader will provide the information and trusts the team to achieve a great result.
Why this works
In a creative working environment, independence is valued. Teams are highly motivated and usually meet requirements and deadlines without any guidance. A hands-off approach makes employees feel that they are trusted and in return, feel confident in their ability to perform the task.
Famous examples of Laissez-Faire leadership include Warren Buffet, who rarely intervened in the workplace and allowed employees to perform tasks without his help.
The leadership style does have its disadvantages, especially in an environment where deadlines need to be adhered to. With the leader uninvolved in many of the procedures, employees could often mistake this as disinterest, which could result in a poor performance.
What is a transformational leader?
Transformational leadership is someone who actively communicates any changes to employees and is always motivational. Team leads are good examples of this. Once they receive a task from management, they communicate what is needed and inspire the team to achieve this goal and maximise productivity. They also offer support to individuals in a team and encourage an open communication space.
Why this works
These leaders tend to be supportive and loyal. As a result, team members will mirror this attitude. No matter the workload, tackling this project and achieving the desired outcome will be the main priority of the team. This also results in a high retention rate, as employees feel that they have an ally within the company.
Sir Richard Branson is a famous transformational leader. His approach to management is that the key to success is to ensure that all employees are motivated: “If you can motivate your people, use their creative potential, you can get through the bad times and enjoy the good times together… if your employees are happy and smiling and enjoying their work, they will perform well.”
While it is the most common style used by management, this approach could backfire. The leader needs to be sure of the decisions made. If not, the team is put in the line of fire, not the leader. Employees are also increasingly motivated to achieve their goals and will work long hours and burn out while doing so.
What is a servant leader?
Servant leadership puts the spotlight on the employees, while management is usually working behind the scenes. Like participative leadership, decisions are made by a group instead of one person. Servant leadership toes the line between leader and servant. In a nutshell, they lead with the others in mind. You’ll find this approach at non-profit organisations, where the mission is key.
Why this works
A servant leader values diverse opinions and everyone’s contribution is taken into consideration. People working under this leadership will feel that they are contributing to something meaningful and always feel encouraged in the workplace.
Famous servant leaders include Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, and Mahatma Gandhi – people who put the needs of others before their own.
This type of leadership is rare in a business environment and may not work, especially with deadlines. However, certain characteristics of this style can be used when motivating a team.
How do you find your leadership style?
Leadership style depends on personality type and playing to your strengths. You can also combine the above styles or switch between, depending on what the goals are. Online courses in management can also help you focus on finding your leadership approach.
Think of any successful business. What you see behind the face of achievement is a hard-working team using well-developed structures to ensure the most efficient and favourable results possible. All the cogs are in place, tasks are running smoothly, and the system is sustainable.
Business management exists to keep the cogs running or to adjust when one falls out of place. It is a field which is fundamental to the success of a well-run business.
What is business management?
Business management is related to the operation of all administration within an organisation or corporation. The tasks within the role include strategising, giving support to team members, ensuring the goals set out are accomplished, and looking after resources.
Essentially, a business manager is the individual who is tasked with running a business. While it might sound simple in principle, it is an enormous task and involves a huge amount of planning, monitoring, and consistent supervising.
It also should be noted that a good business manager does not personally involve themselves in every matter in the business, but rather delegates to trusted members to look after smaller tasks.
What are the benefits of business management?
Managing a business has a certain appeal to it. Not only do you get to put “Business Manager” on your business card in a fancy font, but you also get to boast other benefits which only managing a business brings.
Having a clear overview of running a business;
Fully comprehending the value of a team member;
Learning more-rounded approaches to managing people;
Developing communication skills that you’d never have before; and
Constantly learning on the job.
It gives you a clear overview of a business
If we narrow in to look at individuals tasks performed in business: When performing a task, you need to know the ins-and-outs of it before tackling it. If you are delegating that task to a team member, you still need to understand the basics before explaining it to the person who will be performing it.
Now, if we zoom out to all business operations: Since the manager will know the basics of most tasks being performed they will, therefore, have a basic understanding of the business as a whole and will have a well-rounded knowledge of the business.
You comprehend the value of a team member
If you have to lead people, you need to know what you are asking of them. When you lead well, you will know how to gain the most productive and efficient work out of a happy team member, while knowing what they putting in.
If you understand how important your team is, you gain an understanding of the value of each worker which will help teach you to appreciate, support and encourage them. It also means that if you have to perform the task yourself, you will be able to appreciate the weight of it in the business operations.
You learn new approaches to management
There are five different leadership styles in business management. If you are able to adapt your style to the business you are leading, you are well on your way to passively developing new leadership skills. This is beneficial to both you (as it teaches you new ways to effectively support individuals in their tasks) and your team (as they will be supported and encouraged in ways which bring out their best).
You develop communication skills
In leadership, “communication is key” cannot be stressed enough. If a team member feels comfortable in approaching their manager, they will excel at performing their tasks with confidence.
Although a person can be born with communication skills, the ability is more often learnt through good practice and consistent use. Developing communication skills in order to explain and relay information and accept and process feedback is crucial in business management, but it takes time to learn. This skill is remarkably beneficial because it can be implemented in all areas of life, even outside of the business.
You constantly learn on the job
Similar to learning communication skills through practice, there are a number of business traits which can be learnt on the job. In order to lead people, you first and foremost need to be able to lead yourself. Any self-learning is heightened while leading other people, so the experience you gain in leadership will enhance the lessons you learn.
How does a business maintain its vision? Through good leadership. Effective leadership in business management helps with goal achievement and ensures productivity. Leaders make sure that everyone’s roles are clearly defined while meeting business objectives.
What is leadership?
The term ‘leadership’ means something different to everyone. For some, it conjures up images of a political leader or business executive. Many think leadership means seniority, but generally, it really means guiding someone – in the right direction – towards a better result.
Here’s how to spot a leader:
Leads by example
If they are enthusiastic about something, people around them will mirror their attitude. How they approach a situation will inspire others on how to manage a specific scenario.
They speak less and listen more. This encourages open communication and could lead to effective results.
Is a team player
Someone who is willing to ‘get down in the trenches’ with everyone else shows fairness and a willingness to achieve a great
Qualities of a good leader
Like any good craftsmen, a good leader also needs a set of tools in their arsenal to help them make a positive impact.
To make sure that everyone is on the right track, the leader will need to communicate what is needed. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page and have an understanding of the requirements. Communication doesn’t mean verbalising instructions but also being exceptional at non-verbal skills. This all boils down to body language and eye contact. People usually gain a first impression of someone before they speak. Non-verbal cues speak volumes.
There are leaders that drive their team to hard work and there are others that cheer them. The latter is the one that achieves effective results. Why? The team witnesses a person who has commitment and passion, which inspires them to work hard. This inspires everyone to do great work.
There will be times when a challenge occurs. What separates a good leader from the bad is how these individuals manage obstacles. This involves creative thinking. A good leader is open to varying approaches to achieve the same goal. They do this while showing professionalism and confidence.
An open and collaborative environment encourages transparency and is less hostile. A relationship based on trust demonstrates that the leader will always be honest with them every step of the way. A team with a good support system works in harmony and will achieve a positive outcome.
Making the right decision can have a profound impact. A leader should be able to be analytical and have critical thinking to reach a successful outcome. Decision-making capabilities mean listening to others’ ideas, embracing differing perspectives and sound judgement to reach a conclusion that will help the end-goal.
Why leadership is important in business management
Having a good leader managing a business is important. The leader needs to ensure that the requirements of internal and external stakeholders are met. The leadership within an organisation needs to ensure the following:
Maintain the vision of the business
A business leader needs to guarantee that the business is working like a well-oiled machine and that it’s not steering away from its vision. This means ensuring that each department is functioning as it should and that there is an ample amount of resources available. Nobody should lose track of the big picture.
Communicate and manage business strategies
One of the important steps after strategy creation is implementation. The role of the leader is important because every level of the business needs to know what role they’ll be playing. The end goal needs to be clearly established and defined. This is easy with effective communication skills. Again, it’s not about verbalising instructions but making sure that the team understands what role they play.
Employees are more productive if they are in a positive environment. This starts with leadership. If the team is too stressed, job performance and productivity will start to decline. A good leader will inspire the team to work hard but also maintain morale within the company. The result is high employee retention and a team that is highly motivated.
How do I gain leadership skills?
Most think that you are born with leadership skills but there are ways to develop them. To start off, you need to learn what leadership style suits your personality. A good leader also needs to practice discipline – whether it’s in your personal or professional life. Honing these skills through work experience is a great start.
Various short courses also provide insight into modern management approaches that could advance your career.
International Women’s Day is on a Friday this year. It cannot be a coincidence that it’s on Friday, which is arguably the best day of the week. Well, it could be coincidence since it’s really just the way the calendar works. Irrespective of serendipity, though, it is fitting that the day to honour women happens to be a day of celebration for workers all around the world.
And what a better way to celebrate than to give a platform to women in business who have cleared and are now paving the way for success and grace to make its way into the world of business. In this, we’ll be offering tips on how to be the best boss in a business which once before belonged exclusively to the boys
How to be the best at leading a business
Be confident in what you are offering
Have the confidence that you are exactly what the business needs. Communication step aside, Confidence is the new key to success. If you believe that you are going to do an excellent job, or if you are able to convince everyone that you can; then the odds of you flourishing and overcoming adversities are far better than if you are unsettled in your ability.
Be forward-focused. Remember: Any failures from the past are precisely that: “from the past”. Focus on what you have learned and know that you are better equipped because of mistakes made. While nothing rattles a person quite like defeat, nothing teaches a person like it either.
“Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”
Stay updated in business management
Now, we don’t mean keeping up with the Kardashians. We mean stay updated with leadership techniques and methods which will take you and your team to the next level. Business is constantly shifting, and so should your tactics on how to lead.
Remember the basics of business
When in doubt, go back to basics. Remember the fundamentals of management and business leadership if you are in a place where nothing else seems valid. This concerns all fields of business such as marketing, operations, and budgeting.
All of these are offered in our Business Management short course. The knowledge gained in the courses gives deeper insight into the theoretical and practical methods of leading a team in a business to ensure the most success in any tasks presented.
Not only can you learn to manage a business for your boss. You can learn how to manage a business where you are the boss.
How to build and grow your own business
The skills you need to have as an entrepreneur are all of the above and more. MasterStart’s Business Management short course also explores how to be an expert entrepreneur and be the best boss while looking out for your team and leading diligently.
Leading a business is taxing work. Building a business is not only on a different page, but it’s also an entirely new book. When you own a business, you need to know how to lead your employees effectively as well as dealing with clients, budget, resources and administration.
Stressful? Most probably.
Pay attention to the economic ecosystem
What is happening outside of your business is far too important to ignore. The financial state of your country could influence the way in which you guide your business and operations. If you can understand your customer’s finance, you’ll have a better appreciation of what to offer and at how much. Supply and demand drive the business and you need to know which way to steer for a successful journey.
Pay attention to the needs of your staff
This goes hand-in-hand with scaling. Keep an eye on how your staff is doing; without them, your business will collapse. Make sure they have all the resources they need. Also, bear in mind that your team members also have dreams and it’s not necessarily to make yours a reality – so find a way to incentivise their dreams teaming up with yours. A happy team is a strong team and it’s up to you to make sure they are both.
For all the women who are heading up and taking charge in business; you’ve got this and always have. On that note, MasterStart is wishing everybody a happy, productive International Women’s Day this Friday.