No matter what style of leadership you favor, whether it is authoritarian, democratic or something else, you will be expected to motivate and encourage your team or employees. Many good business leaders give advice on different leadership styles, for example, David Kiger publishes blogs on leadership, but if you are starting your own business, you may find that your leadership styles changes as your business grows. As the saying goes, nothing stays the same except change. To be an effective leader, youâ€™ll need to be flexible and able to adapt to new conditions.
Changing Business Dynamics
In the beginning, the success of your business will rest mainly on your shoulders. This includes financing and cash flow, marketing, sales and Internet savvy. You know you have a great product or service and you have to wear many hats to get your business up and running. You may employ a few people to help, but they will be looking to you for guidance. At this stage, the authoritarian style of leadership may be your best option. Things may be chaotic, you are always thinking of revenue, and when your business starts to lift off the ground, you start thinking of hiring experts in certain areas such as marketing, web administration and sales.
Hiring Quality Staff
In the second phase, you may have the revenue to employ quality staff. As you employ more and more people, you may want to rethink your leadership style. These employees are highly qualified and do not need to be bossed around. On the contrary, you want them to be loyal and motivated to help take your business to the next level and beyond. Your leadership style may now be a bit laissez-faire. You may want to delegate tasks to your motivated employees and let them find the way to success. You are still needed to give guidance and advice when required, but your overall approach is more hands-off.
Learn to Delegate
Since you hired the right people for the job you want done, you now need to let them get on with the work. It is found that when an employee base reaches about 20 people, they start to push back on the CEO. This is where you need flexibility. You need to be able to make changes. Your business has more or less focused on you until now, but that focus is shifting to the enterprise. At this point, you need to deal more with people than with business. Research shows that some CEOs lose passion for their business at this stage. This shouldnâ€™t happen, because only with a great team will your business become super-successful.
At this stage, the democratic approach to leadership may be your best option. When dealing with people, communication is key. Everyone needs to feel heard and valued. Some decisions could be made by voting. You still need to be in charge, but you also need to learn to delegate, trust, manage, coach and reward each employee every day.
When your baby business is off the ground and growing by leaps and bounds, you need to let go. You may be spending most of your time managing people, but there are systems you can put in place along with the right people to overlook those systems that will support the smooth running of your company. You need to hire managers whom your employees can trust. This will reduce employee frustration and make them more productive even when they work fewer hours. This is the point where you need to surround yourself with knowledgeable, experienced people and be willing to listen to a diversity of ideas.
Alignment and Integration
When you have more than 50 employees, they will be required to understand the different departments. For example, the sales and marketing will know the ins and outs of production and product development. Customer service will be one of your main priorities, because with social media just one disgruntled customer can cause a ruckus on the Internet against your customer service. Since a high percentage of people look up their desired purchases online before making a decision, you want as many good testimonials online as possible.
You may not deal much with your employees and spend most of your time with top management. This means constant vigilance on how your managers deal with employees and align them with company goals. Youâ€™ll also be the public face of your company and need to network with customers and vendors as well as understand and beat your competition.
Leadership is not one-size-fits-all. Good leadership must grow and develop along with the company to create a team that is fully functional and productive. You need to identify new opportunities, assign resources, foster exploration and develop action plans. Itâ€™s up to you to decide on the leadership style that will work in your business at different stages of development. Your final goal will be to recapture the thrill and entrepreneurial spirit that you had at the very beginning when you first sat down to create a business plan.