What makes a great business leader?

What are the qualities of a strong business leader? As the providers of Canada’s leading small business training, we know that good leadership is one of the keys to a successful business.

Here are some of the key qualities of a good small business leader.

A good small business leader has – and shares – a strong vision

A strong small business leader has a strong vision, both at the start of a business and during its lifecycle. As a small business owner, you’re responsible for setting the direction of your growth, and providing stability even when things are hectic. If your business has employees, sharing your vision with them gives them pride in where they work and demonstrates that you’re a leader who knows their stuff.

A good small business leader leads by example

Which do you think is more inspiring: arriving late to a meeting and interrupting people when they talk, or showing up on time and encouraging productive, two-way discussions? As the leader in your small business, inspire others through your actions, not just your words. Great small business leaders also have strong ethical standards and expect their employees to meet these standards as well. Show that you embody the principles, vision, and values that you have created for the business.

A good small business leader empowers their team

Great small business leaders know that good ideas can come from anyone, and value everyone’s input and unique personality. Encourage your employees to approach you with concerns or ideas, and really listen to them. Delegate tasks to your team members, and invest in business training courses to help them build their skills. By trusting your team to do their best, you’ll show them that they work for someone who has their best interests at heart.

A good strong small business leader is stable under pressure

Being an entrepreneur means wearing many hats, which can mean more stress. The responsibilities of entrepreneurship are real, but a strong small business leader must be able to deal with issues without flying off the handle. Need help managing stress? BDC has some stress management tips specifically for leaders.

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Supporting your team during times of stress

leadership during stressful times

Stressful times – whether it’s a worldwide pandemic like COVID-19, or some other reason – can be tough on a small business. And as the leader, you may be feeling additional pressure. How can you be there for your team and support them, while making sure you’re also doing okay?

To us, leadership in times of stress must start from a place of empathy. We’re all feeling upside-down these days, and we can’t expect to meet the same standards we did before. This applies to you as a small business leader, as well as each one of your employees. Take greater care to engage with your team and make sure you’re giving them the support they need – both for their career and for their emotional wellbeing. Now more than ever, your team needs to see that you’re truly a leader who they want to follow.

And be sure to protect your own emotional health! Here are some ways to deal with stress in uncertain times.

Entrepreneur also had some great thoughts on this topic recently. For example:

Employees need you to understand their anxieties, frustrations, and pain points to be able to support them before expecting them to perform at their fullest potential. Leaders must prioritize connections and meet their people where they are rather than where you want them to be. This is how you build trust and prepare employees to handle a pandemic or similar crisis.

If you’re wondering how to support your time during the current pandemic, take heart – you’re not alone! Entrepreneurs across Canada and around the world are going through the same thing. Check out Entrepreneur’s article: How Leaders Nurture Emotional Well-Being During Times of Crisis.


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Small business blog posts we liked this week

entrepreneur phone call

Have you read any good business blog posts or articles lately? Here are some that we liked!

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Be a great leader in your small business

Group of people in a meeting

Whether you have one employee or a dozen, your role as a leader is to make the high-level decisions, inspire employees to be their best, and keep a cool head. However, as you’re well aware by now, small business does things a little differently. Change comes quicker to a small business; communication and recognition come easier; and there is often a greater workload divided among fewer people. This means that if you want to be a good leader in your small business, you’ll have to develop some specific characteristics and skills.

Emotional stability and maturity

Stress and frustration are dealt with constantly, so it’s important to be able to face issues effectively without flying off the handle or taking things personally. You should be able to absorb any major risks or obstacles as a leader, and keep it together during chaotic times. Show maturity by putting your own recognition secondary to that of your employees and company.

Risk management and decision-making skills

Here are some key tips to help you manage risk and make effective decisions:

  • Have a clear understanding of the decision to be made.
  • Consider the vision and values of the company.
  • Evaluate the consequences and outcomes of your decision.
  • Brainstorm as many alternatives as possible.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of each alternative.
  • Be sure the appropriate person is making the decision.
  • Understand the timeline in which the decision must be made.

Enthusiasm and passion

Passion is contagious! Infuse the company’s vision and values into the company from the beginning, even through informal ways. You don’t need to be able to see the future, but your team needs to see that you’re excited to take on challenges and put in the work necessary to see the business succeed.

Thick skin and assertiveness

Learn to take criticism well, and show respectful assertiveness in your attitudes to help you gain respect and motivate others. But don’t hog all the leadership! Being able to delegate and supervise effectively, instead of controlling and micro-managing, are very important traits. Empowering others to make decisions and handle responsibilities will allow the company to run smoothly while you’re away.

Giving employees the power to make certain decisions on their own is a great way to prove you recognize the value of your team.

High standards and the ability to recognize achievement

You must have high standards for yourself and for others and recognize the potential of your team. You should always try to do your best and encourage your team members to do the same. Be sure to recognize achievement and develop a welcoming corporate culture.

Good conflict resolution skills

When you do have to deal with conflict, do so maturely and productively. Look for a win-win situation whenever possible. You should also take time to uncover the real reasoning beneath trivial issues and recurring disagreements. Stick to your word when you make promises or plans, so your employees have a consistent and reliable leader — this seemingly simple task alone will diminish a great deal of conflict.

Understand differences in character and psychologies, and adjust your response to the employee’s personality and preferences.

Leading by example

It’s a bit cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. If you’re always late for work or unprepared in meetings, why should your employees be any better? Nobody’s perfect, but a great small business leader is one that inspires employees through action.

Sound like a superhero yet? You can definitely get close to being one! Being a great leader is one step in the journey of entrepreneurship. For more business skills, and advice on how to guide your business to success, sign up for our online training today!

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5 ways you can be a great leader in your business

be a great leader in your business

If your small business has employees, you’ve likely wondered how you can be a better leader. After all, studies have shown that 79% of employees don’t feel their work is strongly valued, and 55% would leave their current organization for one that better recognizes their contributions.

So, knowing how important employee happiness is, how can you use your leadership role to encourage it? Here are 5 things you can try right now.

  • Help out. Yes, you may be the top dog, but you should never pass up an opportunity to help your employees if and when you can. For example, if your restaurant got a sudden booking for 12 people arriving in half an hour, you could help your staff get organized and set up the area. Or if your team is swamped with customers and you notice someone walk in, you can step in and ask the customer if they need help. Getting in the trenches with your team when they need it sends a clear message that you care about them and what they do. They’ll also be more inclined to view
  • Keep your door open. Whether it’s literally or figuratively, leaving your door open for your employees to talk is another way to show them you support them. Let them know that they can come to you if they notice an issue or are feeling like they need guidance or help. And if they just want to pop in to say good morning for a few minutes, that’s great too!
  • Encourage their strengths. While it may not be realistic for you to customize each employee’s role based on what they’re strongest at, you should still play to their strengths. For example, if you run a small web design company and notice one of your designers is also very good at talking with clients, why not see if they’re interested in taking more of a client-facing role? Discovering and encouraging your employees’ strengths is a great way to demonstrate that you notice them, and that you care about them as an individual.
  • Work on the work-life balance. Helping to create a healthy corporate work-life balance can reduce employee stress, increase productivity, and show your employees that your leadership takes their wellbeing into account. Whether it’s a paid half-day off per month, more telecommuting options, flexible work schedules or something else, sit down and brainstorm some ways you can help your team members have a healthier work-life balance.
  • Model leadership that’s about more than just financial results. We know it’s important to you to have a small business that’s profitable, but that can’t be your only metric of success. After all, without happy and motivated employees, you won’t have a business at all! So make sure that you frame leadership as being more than just the bottom line. Let your team see that you’re driven by passion, empathy, core values, dedication, and a strong work ethic as well.

What are your favourite leadership strategies? Let us know in the comments!

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