It’s one thing to “be the boss,” but how can you guarantee that you’re a leader?
Brene Brown, the New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead, defines leadership as “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential.”
Based on that definition, whether you own or manage a small business or large company, there’s so much more to being a leader than just being the boss.
Our team at CJ Hester thought long and hard about what leadership means to us and came up with this short list of ways every leader can be the leader their team needs.
Trust is the foundation of nearly everything we do as humans. As a leader, you must be someone that your employees can trust. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, they lay out the three drivers of trust: authenticity, logic, and empathy. The authors of the article, Frances X. Frei and Anne Morriss, say that leaders will “wobble” on one or more of those drivers. This is why, as a leader, it’s important to recognize where you might “wobble,” and to figure out ways in which you can compensate for your lack of trust in those areas.
Respect Your Employees
Respect is a word we use so often in the English language that we forget what it actually means. Oxford Languages describes it as when you admire someone so deeply based on their abilities, qualities, or achievements. When you really absorb the meaning of the word, it carries a lot more weight. Think back to WHY you hired the people you hired. Think about what they’re capable of, what kind of people they are, and what all they have accomplished for themselves and your company. This should make respecting them feel easy. Respect your employees by being kind to them, offering constructive feedback instead of criticizing them, giving them anonymity, and speaking to them as you would a superior, not an underling.
Make Your Employees Feel Valued
If you’re seeing a high rate of turnover at your business, it’s likely because your employees aren’t feeling valued. Making your employees feel valued might seem simple, but it’s quite complicated because everyone wants to be acknowledged differently. While some employees love large lunches and celebrations for their birthdays’ others might prefer a note from an anonymous sender on how much they appreciate the work they’ve been doing.
We encourage you to do some research on The Five Appreciation Languages by Gary Chapman. Through his years of work, he was able to determine five ways people feel appreciated: quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. You can do as little as asking your employees to take a short quiz to determine their appreciation language or have Gary’s team lead yours through an online workplace appreciation course. Once you’ve done that, Entrepreneur Resources has great recognition ideas you can implement to make your employees feel valued.
Be Present and Available
In today’s digital age, you might think being available to your employees can easily be done by answering their texts and calls and responding to their emails after-hours. But it’s so much more than that! Being present and available requires you to LISTEN. When an employee comes to their boss or supervisor for help or advice, they’ve likely asked every single other person in the office beforehand. They’ve sought you out because they need you to listen and advise them. Be available to them by keeping your door open, scheduling one-on-one coffee outings or office chats, eating lunch in the breakroom once a week, etc. Be present with them by making eye contact, not checking your phone or emails, and being aware of your body language (no matter how stressed or annoyed you might be at the moment).
Becoming and remaining the leader your team needs is hard work. It requires daily commitment. But if you’re able to remain dedicated to being a true and empowering leader, you’ll see the benefits. Companies with strong, effective leadership see lower turnover rates, higher sales, and much more.
For more leadership tips, visit our blog. We update it weekly with news and other information on how to build, manage and maintain your small or large business.