Key Leadership Skills for Entrepreneurs
Leadership is almost 100% about managing people. Having great ideas and a strategic vision won’t get you far if your employees aren’t willing to follow you. And too many entrepreneurs take leadership skills for granted.
The good news is that simple things work best with people, says IIA Kenya IT associate, Andrew Kinyanjui. He believes that a short definition of leadership should look like this: “The ability to lead by example while communicating, mobilizing, sharing and delegating.”
Here are seven key leadership skills all business owners should develop.
1. Develop a strategic vision
Passion and a great business idea aren’t enough to succeed in business, Israel says. You need a strategy for your company. Plan where you want your business to be in five years and how you are going to take it there.
2. Communicate with transparency
Share successes and failures with your people. Information clearly transmitted gives them context and a sense of belonging to the company.
Israel, who has more than 30 years of business experience, says that plans, strategies and results should never be left on paper, collecting dust. “If you are making money, your employees should know about it and be rewarded,” he says. “This will motivate them and your company will continue to grow. The success of the company isn’t yours alone, it belongs to your team.”
On the other hand, if the company is facing problems, your employees will be a valuable source of ideas on how to improve things.
3. Spot and retain the best talent
Your business is as successful as the people working in it. Great leaders who created successful companies have one thing in common: They surround themselves with talented, courageous, loyal people. Once you have recruited them, invest in their development through training and coaching.
4. Know how and when to delegate
Entrepreneurs by nature have a healthy ego, Israel says. “When it comes to their company, almost all entrepreneurs will say: Nobody can do it better than me.”
But those who are going to be successful are those who admit they can’t be the CEO, the chief financial officer, the marketing director and the sales manager at the same time. They share, delegate and empower their teams.
5. Lead by example
Be honest and ethical in everything you do. Have strong values. Live what you are preaching.
6. Ask for advice
No matter how well you know your industry, change is reshaping business so fast that entrepreneurs develop blind spots or become uncertain about how to proceed.
Israel, who created and developed seven businesses over the years, says these experiences taught him it pays to seek out impartial, professional advice. “The first line I always put in a budget was $10,000 for a business adviser. You can pretend you know everything about business, but keep in mind that innovation never stops, and it is easy to be left behind.”
7. Develop leaders
Leadership should start at the top of the organization, but leaders don’t necessarily come from positions of power. They can be found at all levels in an organization. Identify them and help them to develop their leadership skills.
The transfer of knowledge through mentoring allows you to build a strong leadership pipeline in your company.
“7 Key Leadership Skills for Entrepreneurs.” BDC.ca, 12 Sept. 2020, www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/entrepreneurial-skills/be-effective-leader/7-key-leadership-skills-entrepreneurs.