How to Be an Effective Small Business Leader

Effective small business leadership
When you run your own business you are a leader whether you like it or not. Here are the 10 key characteristics to be an effective small business leader in today’s world.

The Merriam Webster dictionary ( defines Leadership as follows:

  1. the office or position of a leader
  2. the capacity to lead
  3. the act or instance of leading

Interestingly enough they also list the date it was first used which was in 1765. The Oxford dictionary refers to the 19th century as far as the first reference.

If you are to discuss leadership nowadays, you will get a real shock in relation to how the word ‘Leadership’ is used.

Yes indeed, it means the capacity to lead, just as the Merriam Webster dictionary states. However, in today’s world ‘Leadership’ means much more than that.

Leadership today encompasses the entire spectrum of human emotion and understanding.

Today’s leader has to be equipped to handle situations that have never before existed.

Historically speaking, you were the leader because you were the best warrior, the strongest, most courageous and people followed you wherever, forever.

Today, muscle has nothing to do with it.

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a great leader in today’s world.

A great leader…

  1. Believes in what they are doing
  2. See’s the big picture
  3. Has broad knowledge
  4. Understands people
  5. Is a great communicator
  6. Thinks ahead
  7. Has contingency plans
  8. Leads by example
  9. Is courageous
  10. Takes responsibility

A great leader believes in what they are doing

This is a really important leadership trait.

The Oxford dictionary states that the word ‘Believe’ means to accept that something is true especially without proof. (

Think about this for a moment. Would you follow someone who you knew did not really believe in the message they were delivering?

I am sure you would have second thoughts.

When the person you are following shows an undeniable belief in what they are doing, you can rest assured that they are showing leadership traits.

A great leader sees the big picture

This can be described best in the Stone Cutter’s Story.

A traveller came across 3 stonecutters who were all doing the same thing. When asked what they were doing, the first responded that he was cutting a stone. This was the truth but it did not really enlighten the traveller enough so he asked the second the same question. The second stonecutter replied that he was cutting a stone to be perfectly square with special dimensions so it could fit into the wall. OK, that provided a bit more information. So the traveler went to the third stonecutter and asked the same question again. “What are you doing?” he said. This time the answer was “I am building a cathedral.

Wow, this stonecutter was looking at the big picture, just like you want your leader to be doing.

A great leader has broad knowledge

When a leader has a broad knowledge base that covers a wide array of topics, he or she can address issues with authority.

A great leader understands people

Leadership in this millenium is completely different than ever before and today’s leader has to be a mini-psychologist. Understanding people is a must for today’s leader.

Today’s leader needs to be a great communicator

Communication really means that all parties are listened to and equally understood. This is not an easy thing to accomplish. So a great leader needs to be a good listener.

Many people fail to listen properly and assume things rather than really listening and hearing what the other party is saying.

The old saying that we have been blessed with 2 ears and only one mouth for a reason rings true here.

A great leader thinks ahead

Many leaders today might also be good chess players as they see moves well ahead of their competition. Being able to think ahead of the curve is a wonderful skill to have.

A great leader has contingency plans for every situation

This links in with the previous trait of ‘thinking ahead’.

‘A contingency plan is a course of action designed to help an organization respond effectively to a significant future event or situation that may or may not happen.

A contingency plan is sometimes referred to as “Plan B,” because it can be also used as an alternative for action if expected results fail to materialise. Contingency planning is a component of business continuity, disaster recovery and risk management.’

Great leaders make sure that they have contingency plans.

A great leader leads by example

Years ago parents used to tell their children to do as they say and not as they do. This is totally unacceptable these days.

The internet has changed leadership. No longer are there secrets. Today everything is on video and there are people out there who spend every waking hour trying to expose the coming and going of high profile people.

Today if you want to be a leader, you have to lead by example and be totally transparent.

A great leader has to be courageous

In the life of a leader there will be decisions that have to be made and in many cases these decisions could affect the lives of many people. A leader has to have courage to make these decisions without wavering even if the popular consensus is against them.

A great leader takes responsibility

In a day and age of excuses, a leader has to step up to the plate when things go wrong and take responsibility. No one wants to hear some lame excuse for failure. Taking responsibility for actions is a clear sign of maturity and positive leadership skills.

That pretty much sums up the skills required to be a great leader.

Does a great leader have to have all of the previous 10 characteristics? Well, the more of these characteristics a person has, the better leader they will be. So a good leader also spends time on his or her own personal development to become more successful.

The Academy is the perfect place for your personal development as a self employed small business owner. Click here to find out more about membership of the Academy and what it offers.


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