Small Business

Seven tips for improving leadership

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Leadership skills are a necessity if you want to start your own business.

Although most of what I’ve written over the years has had a small business edge, it is always my intention that it be digestible by anyone.

The philosophy is similar to that of comedian and writer, Dave Gibson, who was the many voices of the Doug Mulray radio show in the 80s and 90s — Gibson is still a legendary voiceover man.

Questioning him about a radio show he was preparing, I asked what kind of listener he was after. His answer was all encompassing. “Any bugger with an ear!”

My target group is wide too as there are more than 1.6 million small business owners who employ over a third of the workforce. We all shop with them and many of us harbour the hope of one day opening a shop or café of our own.

If and when you do, or if you are currently living the dream, a critical issue for your success will be your leadership.

Leadership habits

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, gives some first-rate lessons for lifting your leadership game.

Even if you are a parent, whose followers are failing to see your leadership qualities, you could be advised to take in some Covey.

1. Be a proactive person taking responsibility for your own behaviour

You give up blaming circumstance or conditioning for things going wrong. A person or a situation must bring forth a response that comes from you and you take responsibility for it

2. Build your life on principles and fundamental truths you believe in

While beginning with the outcome you want firmly in the front of your mind

3. Avoid the unimportant

But know what is important and do those things with paramount urgency. Write a personal mission statement, build up your most important relationships and clearly set out your long-term plans

4. Don’t believe in the zero sum gain

Where one winner produces a loser. Covey says the best outcomes happen when you think ‘win-win’. Your solutions should strive to be mutually beneficial

5. Listen carefully

And really try to understand your employee, your customer, kids, partner, etc.

6. Synergising

Is the next step to better leadership. Value the difference between people and use these to build better outcomes. When forced to deal with alternatives, which are deeply in conflict, show your creativity by looking for a third and more productive alternative.

7. ‘Sharpen the saw’

Like a good tradesman who keeps his tools sharp, we must seek what the Japanese call ‘kaizen‘ – constant improvement. That will come when you are striving to learn at all times

I know this seems like a summary of all the pearls of wisdom from those old Kung Fu television shows, (minus references to ‘master and grasshopper’) but if you want a special business, a special family or a special relationship, some special input from a higher level is required.

Like businesses, leaders are not born; they are created.

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Friday, March 16, 2012

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