Business Leadership

Leadership Do's and Don'ts

If you aspire to be a good leader, here are a few start- and stop-doings that you should be aware of.

A lot of small business owners stumbled into leadership, never imagining that one day a growing company would look to them for guidance.

If leadership doesn't come naturally for you, you need to get up to speed on a few basic do's and don'ts before it's too late.

Do . . . Be Equitable

As the company's owner, you have to maintain equity in your dealings with employees and clients. However, being equitable doesn't mean that everyone has the same responsibilities or receives the same rewards. It simply means that rewards should be based on performance and level of responsibility rather than who tells the best jokes in the lunch room.

Do . . . Encourage Initiative

Effective leaders encourage initiative in others. If your employees don't feel as though they have your permission to take the initiative from time to time - they won't. And before long, you will find yourself pigeon-holed into the role of a micro-manager rather than a true leader.

Do . . . Model Creativity & Risk-taking

Leaders model the behaviors they want to see in their employees. Creativity and risk-taking are critical qualities in a growing business, but your employees will be hesitant to apply them until they see you engaging in them first.

Do . . . Exceed Your Own Standards

Most leaders set high standards for their employees. But successful leaders personally exceed the standards they set for others. If you give your employees reason to question your willingness or ability to abide by the standards you have set for them, their confidence in your leadership skills will plummet and your business could be in jeopardy.

Don't . . . Play Armchair Quarterback

If you're looking for a way to frustrate your employees, don't offer them any advice about how to complete a task and then criticize their approach after the fact. No one likes an armchair quarterback, so unless the outcome is unacceptable, try to resist the urge to tell employees how you would have done it differently.

Don't . . . Humiliate Employees in Public

Leaders carry the responsibility of enforcing discipline and holding employees accountable for their mistakes. But when it's time to discuss difficult issues with an employee, do yourself a favor and make sure the conversation happens behind closed doors. In addition to degrading both you and your employee, public humiliation undermines morale and reflects poorly on your leadership skills.

Don't . . . Shift Blame for Your Mistakes

Some leaders refuse to accept responsibility for their mistakes because they believe it is a sign of weakness. But that's a big mistake. The strongest leaders are those who admit their mistakes instead of shifting blame to others, and in so doing, earn the respect of their employees.

Don't . . . Dwell on Mistakes

Mistakes are not usually a reflection of poor leadership ability. But the inability to get past your employees mistakes . . . That's a different story. Address mistakes, talk about how to avoid them next time, and move on. Constant reminders about past failures discourage employees and make it difficult for them to see how they can redeem themselves going forward.

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