By Ryan Velez
Many would-be business gurus talk about the importance of being a great leader, but it’s easy to get bogged down in information about how to do this, sometimes tugging you in different directions. The Hartford recently put together an all-purpose guide for small business owners looking to separate the best leadership advice. Fittingly, the guide hits the ground running with a list of good traits to have. The best leaders:
• have the ability to inspire others and develop a vision
• set clear goals, stay focused, and communicate well
• give and receive feedback
• know the strengths and weaknesses of themselves and teammates
• know when to ask for outside help
• are approachable, honest, and committed
• know how to successfully execute a strategy
There’s a lot to keep in mind, and generally, you’ll want some level of all these traits to succeed. A lot of the time, executing is all about the details. For example, let’s talk about putting together a vision. Be sure to think about whether or not you are creating a vision for the entire business or just one smaller aspect. Here’s a few questions to ask.
• What problem am I solving in people’s lives with this vision? What needs of my customers am I fulfilling?
• Will this change people’s lives? Could it possibly even save someone’s life? If so, how?
• Has anyone ever done anything like this? If yes, who was it? How long ago was this done? How did customers, competitors and partners react? If no, why hasn’t anyone done this?
• What personality traits does this vision capture? Does this vision position my company as being charitable, personable, innovative, playful?
In the same vein, think in the long-term as well. Give yourself a time-frame to see where your vision will carry you in a few years, and how you will need to adapt.
It’s also important to pay attention to communication, which will determine not only how effective your vision is dispersed to employees, but customers. For example, think about consuming internet content. Which do you prefer?
a.) Reading an article
b.) Listening to a podcast
c.) Watching a video
d.) Looking at an infographic
e.) Experimenting with a technique and then discussing on a message board or social media
All have pros and cons, but what is clear is that you need to be ready to put out multiple types of communication. In addition, communication covers not just what you say, but how you listen to what others say. Be ready to allow means for your employees to provide feedback and talk about their concerns, and create platforms for your customers to share their feedback as well.