Leadership in Small Business 101, Part 2: Creating Opportunities Through Management

The best way to see the quality of a leader is to look at the people they lead. Look for opportunities being created. Look for innovation being driven from the ground up. If you see meaningful productivity in a company, that’s the sign of a great leader.

So how do you get your employees to create these opportunities for your company? What can you do as a leader to build a culture that drives innovation? You have to give your employees a feeling of ownership.

There are 3 ways to build
a sense of ownership in
your employees:

1. Get out of the way.

If you hired well, you’ve hired experts. While your employees may not know everything there is to know about running a company, they do know how to do their job. Instead of telling your employees exactly how to get something done, give them a problem. Tell them you need to find a way to get 500 more leads to the sales team a month. Ask them to take some time, think about it, and come back with a solution. Important: Make it really easy for them to actually come back and talk to you about it.

2. Create vision.

One of the best ways to get your employees behind your vision is show them the details. Be as transparent as possible with your employees. Here’s how:

   •     Show them the financials.
   •     Show them where you want to be.
   •     Show them how you want to get there.

If you can get your employees to share in that vision with you, you’ll have a team of competent people working towards a common goal, instead of people sitting around taking orders.

3. Know how and when to say no.

Occasionally, your well-meaning employees are going to come to you and present something that is an obvious dud.

First, make sure it’s actually a dud. Listen to them, get a second opinion, and take your time to form a response. You might be overlooking something.

Second, if it’s actually a dud, see if it can be tweaked into something that’s not. But remember, the further away it is from the original plan, the less likely they are to feel ownership.

Third, if it’s just really bad, let them down gently. Tell them clearly that you appreciate them and their proposal, but it’s not right. Give them some direction, try rephrasing the original problem, and let them try again.

If you create a feeling of ownership in your employees and you get them behind your vision, they’ll take you to where you want to go.

Look for part 3 in our Leadership in Small Business 101 series next Wednesday: “How to Plan and Execute for Growth.”