Business Leadership

Signs of a Good Leader

Written by Scott Scheper for Gaebler Ventures

How can you tell if you're succeeding as a leader? Here, we provide six steps that ensure you're headed on the right track to becoming an effective leader, and explain how to keep your employees happy.

Being a business owner requires strong leadership abilities.

Keeping employees happy means more than simply providing competitive benefits and wages -- however much that serves as a good motivational tactic.

As a leader, you must develop their team-building skills and foster individual success. As many leaders in business and in life will attest, this is more of an art than a science.

However, whether it's a small, mom-and-pop business or a sprawling corporation employing thousands, the principles remain the same. Here are six leadership traits that have helped top business leaders get the most from their employees.

1. Choose your employees well.

Apart from their credentials, pick those who are self-motivated, those whom you feel believe and can contribute to the vision of your company. Be personally involved in selecting the people who will be your managers or leaders.

This responsibility falls on you, for as the creator of your business, you are the one who understands its nature best.

2. Provide the necessary equipment, training, and compensation.

As Sun Tzu puts it in his famous book, The Art of War, "an army perishes if it has no equipment, it perishes if it has no food, and it perishes if it has no money."

It is important for any entrepreneur to provide his employees with the necessary material and training to make them effective in their jobs. Also, particularly for sales, you should train your employees on the products and/or services of rival businesses. Finally, pay them fairly and on time. Combined, these principles contribute to better performance.

3. Stay in touch with your employees.

Be interested in what employees think and feel.

To illustrate, it is common in many Japanese companies for the management to wear the same uniform as their workers. They also do not have reserved parking spaces, they eat the same food, and they use the same washroom as their employees. It is therefore easier for them to understand the workforce and appeal to their issues.

Of course, taking the same steps as the Japanese isn't necessary, but you get the point. Take time to get to know your workers. Know them by name, what each one is doing, and where they want to go with their lives. It is easier for them to follow a leader who understands and cares for their welfare.

4. Create a vision for where you want your business to go.

It is important for a leader to develop a shared vision for the business, and direct his employees to follow and believe in that vision.

Establishing a clear mission and vision provides employees with momentum to give more than what is required to achieve a common goal. In contrast, workplaces with employees merely there for a wage, are starved of creativity, energy, and initiative.

You want your business to be a living entity where people genuinely want to work to make the enterprise a success; not just a stepping-stone on the way to better things.

5. Set the example.

As the leader of the company, you must deliberately model the entrepreneurial role in order to set the climate. Employees will only be as effective as you are.

If you want to cultivate a culture of hard work, you yourself must work the hardest. The same is true for creating an air of respect, honesty, fair play, and service to the customer.

6. Keep the morale high.

Win the loyalty of your employees. If you reward good performance with promotion and compensation, you can expect more of the same.

Yet just as important, make sure to give your employees a sense that they are valued and important to the growth of your business. The simple act of perennially showing gratitude and offering encouragement to your employees goes a long way in ensuring they will stay with you for the long run.

It is a sad thing to watch a business lose money from capital flight, but it is even more unfortunate to watch it die of human capital flight. Any good manager will tell you how costly it is to lose good employees, considering the time and effort it takes to find and train new ones.

Therefore, it is essential to take care of those who work for you. Remember, the success of a company is measured in part by the happiness of its employees. They are often the foremost representation not only of your business, but of your quality as a manager.

Scott Scheper is a venture finance enthusiast and serial entrepreneur hailing from Orange County, CA. Scott recently graduated from Chapman University where he was a Cheverton Fellow and graduated with honors in Finance, Management and Marketing.

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