Every team needs someone they can turn to for guidance, inspiration and motivation. Without a great leader, a company can quickly become rudderless and produce poor results.
As successful business leaders themselves, the members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs have learned a lot about effective leadership during their career. Below, nine of them share some of the lessons they’ve learned recently and explain how these lessons have helped them improve their leadership skills and, ultimately, their business.
1. Great leaders should be willing to serve
This has always been ingrained in me, but a recent incident proved it to be true. Everyone is now understaffed, including us, and there weren’t enough workers to complete a particular manual project. It had to be done, so I jumped in. It had been years since I did this kind of work, but I was able. My employees developed a new respect for me because I was willing to work at their level. They also realized that I knew how to do it correctly. Many employees forget that business owners typically start by doing all the work themselves, and this showed them that I earned my right to own a business by doing the hard work. – Baruch Labunskic, Rank Safe
2. It is important to be transparent with all employees
I recently learned that everyone in a company should know what is happening in the company. Plus, I just discovered software that allows me to create corporate video reports. Over the next month, I’ll be making a video of the key things that happened in the past 30 days and sharing it with everyone involved in our business development team. Being more transparent empowers people and builds trust, so they know they’re working in a company that cares about them. – Alexandru Stan, tekpon
3. A leader’s job is to help employees grow and develop
A great leader encourages others, helps them improve their skills, and is rewarded with competent employees who can move mountains. I’ve always said it’s a sign of a great leader when you can grow an employee to the point where they’ll leave you one day and go on to achieve great success in their own company. You will see this trend among some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time. Some of the most successful companies (and entrepreneurs) spawn dozens or hundreds of other successful businesses from just one organization. – Andy Karuzac, NachoNacho
4. You don’t have to do everything yourself
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a leader in my company is the power of delegation. The belief that “I have to do everything” destroyed the productivity and efficiency of what I used to do. The day I started trusting my subordinates and my colleagues and started delegating tasks that can be handled in a similar or better way, my life got so much better. Now not only do I do the tasks I love, but I am also expanding my wings to learn better about the industry and bring more value to the team. I can now spend more one-on-one time with the team doing what’s important for the longevity and growth of the business rather than the immediate and urgent solutions. – Jay Dahal, machine
5. Leaders must monitor and manage employee stress
Employees may not always share how stressed they are. This makes it difficult for them to perform and for you to keep them. We lost one of our best performing employees because they couldn’t handle their stress and got burned out. This made me realize that as leaders we need to keep an eye on our employees and help manage their stress. To create a healthy work environment and encourage employees to share, we hold monthly meetings where we discuss our successes and challenges. We’ve built an environment where every team member looks out for each other. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable shapes
6. You don’t always have to have all the answers
There’s something to be said for being a great leader who always has the answers. But I’ve recently learned that it’s just as important, if not more important, to be a leader who knows how to listen to and encourage team contributions. One of the best ways to do this is to ask for input instead of always giving guidelines. I started incorporating regular input from team members about our projects, processes and work progress. Allowing team contributions has enriched the way we approach client projects and tackle internal challenges as everyone provides input on what they believe is the biggest block. Creating an environment where team members feel safe from making mistakes means learning and growing. As the team members grow, the whole team succeeds. – Tonika Bruce, Lead Beautiful, Inc.
7. Paths are rarely linear
A lesson I’ve learned recently is that things often take longer than expected – the path is rarely linear. Sometimes it’s easy, but it’s better served by seeing that more as an exception to the rule. Knowing this reality allows businesses to be built more resilient. Unlike overpromising and underdelivering, more realistic timelines and expectations can be set. If one is able to surrender and beat guesses, even better! By accepting that things don’t always go according to plan, leaders are also able to become more emotionally resilient to setbacks because they recognize them as part of the process. Having a view of the future that is more realistic and grounded in reality will make one better prepared and ready for the future when it comes. – Akshar Bonu, The custom move
8. Mistakes are opportunities to learn
If you make a mistake, that’s okay. When we start out, all too often we think in black and white and believe that a single victory or success defines who we are as a whole. However, this is not the case. We are humans and we all have days off. It is important to learn from our mistakes so that we can improve. Being comfortable with changes in my situation and embracing both failures and successes has helped me become a better leader in my company. It has helped me to be more flexible and flexible, which is an important skill. – Syed Balkan, WPBeginner
9. Doubling your people pays off
When the pandemic hit and so many companies let employees go, I went double on websites and work. I made sure my team knew that I was invested in them and in their future, no matter what. This duplication and reliance on my instincts paid off in turn, as my clients appreciated how I handled the situation and my team developed more loyalty. We are stronger than ever and prove that doubling your people really pays off. It’s also a lesson to trust your instincts. My business improved because I listened to my instincts to really dig into our services and keep our team together. – Matthew Capala, Alphametric