14 August 2013

How to be a good leader

It can be lonely at the top and many people find the transition from employee to employer difficult.

If you’re running a start-up or small business and have hired people to work for you, then you need to get used to being a leader.

One of the toughest things about being the boss is making important decisions and making sure your staff are fully behind your choices. Many leaders find a lot of people are happy to take credit for good decisions but when they make a mistake they are left to take responsibility alone.

So what can you do to make sure you’re a good leader?

1. Develop speedy reactions

Make sure you know what is happening in your business and your industry and react to any changes or developments quickly. Acknowledge what is happening and how it will affect your company and then put a plan in action to deal with it.

2. Consult your staff

It may be you who makes the final call when it comes to decisions but it can be very valuable to find out what your staff think. They may provide a different perspective which will put things in a different light. Discussing things with your team will also make them more likely to support the final decision and boost staff morale and motivation.

3. Work out your leadership style

There are four main types of leaders and it helps to know which style you want to follow.

  • Autocratic leaders have tight control over all parts of their business and usually don’t involve staff much in the decision-making process. This can mean decisions are made quickly and efficiently but it can have a negative impact on staff morale leading to higher employee turnover and absenteeism.
  • Laissez faire leaders are hands-off bosses and delegate most tasks and decisions. This can be successful if you have a team of experienced, loyal and highly-skilled employees who understand your business. However, giving people too much freedom can affect staff productivity.
  • Democratic leaders involve staff in their decisions, which can encourage creativity and motivation but it can mean each decision takes a long time.
  • Bureaucratic bosses come up with a strict set of rules and policies which everyone must stick to. This means staff know exactly where they stand but it can inhibit innovation.

4. Understand your mission

It is vital that you know exactly what your business stands for and what you want to achieve. To be a good leader,  you must be consistent with a clear idea of the direction you want to head in. Without a vision and goals, it can be very difficult to achieve business growth.