For small business owners, leadership skills are often a required part of the job. You may have to lead a group of employees new to your business, become active in civic organizations and help with new projects, or even train other entrepreneurs in professional development situations. Whatever the situation, people will look to you for advice and motivation. Keep the following characteristics in mind when deciding what type of leader you want to be.

Effective leaders…

  • focus on making others successful. Instead of emphasizing the importance of your role, concentrate on how you can help make others successful. What tools can you offer? What past experiences can you pass on? For example, one of your newest sales reps has continually failed to meet his monthly goals. After a discussion with him, you find out that he meets with plenty of prospects, is an expert in the product and its benefits, and has great communication skills. However, he lacks the confidence he needs to actually close the deal and make the sale. Give him some tips on closing, offer to role-play with him as the customer, and prepare him for potential objections. Giving people what they need to succeed will demonstrate your competence as a leader and motivate them to do their best.
  • are deeply grateful. It’s important to show others how appreciative you are for their hard work and contributions to your business. Doing so not only helps you connect with your team/staff, but also motivates them to work harder because they know it will not go unnoticed by you. Always strive to maintain positive staff morale. The happier people are in their jobs, the more successful they will become.
  • have strong convictions. It is not necessary for you to preach about your philosophy on business to your employees, but everything you say and do should demonstrate your strong convictions. If you are someone who is committed to excellent customer service above all else, then you should lead by example. Train your staff to provide the level of service you deem essential, let them see you doing the same, and demonstrate how your high standards allow your business to succeed. Anyone who works with you should be able to identify what is important to you.
  • are very positive. People generally respond better to positivity than they do to negativity. Adopt and maintain a positive attitude, and strive to see the best in yourself, your staff, and your customers. Don’t hesitate to give someone a deserved pat on the back. Positive actions yield positive results, so don’t underestimate the power of optimism.
  • truly care about others. Sincerity is essential to effective leadership. Most people can sense and are turned off by false niceties or empty compliments. Recognize the value of others’ hard work and ask yourself how you can enrich their lives through your leadership. It can even be as simple as asking an employee what you can do to help when you notice she is having a rough day. When you show others that you truly care about them, they begin to truly care about you in return, and therefore are more motivated to achieve.

Leadership styles vary greatly from person to person, but adopting these qualities will maximize your ability to motivate others. What else do you think should be added to this list? Share your ideas in the comments section below!