5 Steps to Outstanding Leadership Jonathan Herrick When you first started your business, it was probably just you handling everything. As your company has grown, however, so has your need to hire additional employees. For many business owners, leadership isn’t something that comes naturally, but it’s essential if you are to drive your company forward. If this is an area where you struggle, or if you’re just looking to get ahead of the game before you bring on additional staff, here are five tried and true steps to become a positive, consistent and effective leader. Hire the right people. You can’t expect to lead others who aren’t a good fit for your company to begin with. Make sure you put a good deal of time and effort into who you hire. Look for people who are natural problem-solvers, who can communicate well and who are on the same page as you in terms of culture. In other words, if your company culture is customer-centric, seek out individuals who strongly value service and support. Then, invest the necessary time and resources into onboarding and training them properly. Over-communicate. Your employees cannot thrive if they don’t know exactly what’s expected of them. Moving from self-sufficiency to collaboration can be a difficult transition, but the key to navigating through those rocky waters is communication. Be clear on what your goals are and the role each individual plays in achieving those goals. Never assume that just because your staff is highly intelligent and independent that they know what’s going on in your mind. Clarify objectives, duties and deadlines and check in regularly to confirm that everyone is on the same page. Identify and nurture strengths. It’s great to have employees who are talented and highly skilled, but if you take those things for granted, you might end up losing your best talent in the long run. Remember to recognize excellence and show your appreciation for great performance. Take the time to review each of your staff members to identify what their areas of strength are and then find a way to nurture those strengths. Not only will this add value to them, but it’ll also be great for your company. Be forward-thinking. As a business owner, it can be easy to become so engrossed in the operation of your company that you forget to look up and see what’s going on around you. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful about staying abreast of what’s disrupting your industry, you could easily get left behind. Part of being a strong, effective leader involves keeping an eye toward the future and being adequately prepared and agile enough to adapt as the landscape changes. Keep your ears open. A lot of well-meaning business owners forget that leadership is actually a two-way street. Your employees are smart and innovative. It’s highly likely that they know of better ways to do things that will boost service levels or improve efficiency. Make sure you’re actively listening to what your team members have to say. Be open to feedback, encourage idea sharing and implement suggestions whenever possible. When your employees feel heard, they’ll be much more engaged and dedicated to helping drive your business forward in the right direction. The truth is, with the right approach, anyone can be a great business leader. By putting the above steps into action, you can strengthen your company and realize even greater success in the future.