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.
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.
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!
Whether your small business is winding down or picking up, take some time to enjoy these small business blog posts and articles we’ve enjoyed recently. Read anything you liked? Let us know in the comments!
In a recent blog post, we presented a list of questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking of starting a small business. One of those questions was related to leadership in small business. What answer did you give to that question? What qualities does a strong leader of a small business possess? As providers of comprehensive small business training, we know that good leadership is just as important to an entrepreneur’s success as a good accountant or an exit strategy.
A small business leader has – and shares – a strong vision
The sign of a strong small business leader is a strong vision, both when you start a business and during its lifecycle. As a small business owner, you are the one responsible for setting the direction in which you want to grow. The life of an entrepreneur is hectic, but a clear vision gives your small business some stability. If your business has employees, it’s critical that you share your vision with them – it allows them to take pride in where they work and demonstrates that you’re a leader who knows their stuff.
Effective small business leadership is done so by example
So you have a strong vision and a great business model – but effective leadership doesn’t end there. Great small business leaders really walk the talk, demonstrating to others just how they embody their business’ values, mission and principles. As the leader in your small business, inspire others through your actions, not just your words.
Great small business leaders recognize the potential of their team
How motivated and inspired do you think your employees would be if they weren’t allowed to ask questions or present concerns? What opinion would they hold of you as a leader? Great small business leaders understand that good ideas can come from many sources. Encourage your employees to approach you with concerns or ideas, and really listen to them. Delegate tasks to your team members – this one’s hard for some entrepreneurs, but it’s vital. If you have executives or managers, invest in business training courses to help them build their skills. These actions will prove that you’re a small business leader who recognizes the value of your team.
A strong small business leader is ethical and stable
Being an entrepreneur means wearing many hats, which then means bearing a fair amount of stress. However, as a good small business leader, you must be able to deal with any issue without letting the stress get the better of you. Great small business leaders also possess strong ethical standards and expect their employees to meet these standards as well. Strong ethical standards and emotional stability prove to others that you are a leader who is fully in control of your business.