How can SME owners become better leaders
There is an ongoing academic debate as to whether leaders are born or made. I am firmly in the camp that leadership is a skill that can be taught. In my experience working with SME owners the biggest challenge they face is in their ability to stand back from the coal face of daily activity and learn how to trust their people. This is easier said than done.
Most SME owners started a business because they were technically competent at something and built their business by delivering that technical competence personally, thereby becoming the go between for everything.
This is sometimes referred to as the owners’ trap. It is hard for owners in this common situation to let go because they believe that the success of the business revolves around their technical skill. Becoming a leader requires putting trust in others and bringing them on youjr journey.
Successful leadership is about inspiring others to follow. This requires the leader to articulate a purpose born out of a belief. People follow because they believe in the same things, the purpose validates the belief. In business terms this is best expressed when an owner clearly defines and articulates to staff the following;
- core values – defining principles and work ethics
- core purpose – the reason why the organisation exists (profit is simply a by-product) typically formulated as a mission statement
- business vision – an inspirational description of the organisations future, something for the whole organisation to strive for and to aspire to
The key to turning this into leadership is for the owner to delegate responsibility within this framework of values, purpose and vision providing purpose and belief for everyone within the organisation.
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