If you want to run a successful business, then you have to be a leader. Without a leader, efforts are disorganized, people are unmotivated, and the train doesn’t really leave the tracks. Not everyone is a natural leader, but they don’t have to be. Leadership can be learned. So, how do you learn it?
Don’t sit back and hope that you’re going to be a convincing communicator and an effective administrator. Leadership is about understanding the principles of organization and decision making and then applying it to the people looking to follow you. Some education in business fields can help you find exactly how to do that. Even if you’re starting your business, you can take time aside to learn in an online bachelor of arts in organizational studies class. Your leadership isn’t going to kick in just by hoping for it. Get educated on what it means to be a leader.
Get some experience
If you haven’t started the business yet, then it might be a good idea to cool your jets for a while, first. As far as leadership exercises go, running a business is throwing yourself into the deep-end. Instead, you can find more relaxed opportunities to gain that leadership experience. You can switch career tracks to try to find a managerial position for a year or so. Or you can get involved in community and charity efforts. Learn what it means to organize people and get a small-scale example of the difficulties you might face in leadership before you face them in a much more demanding field.
Remember it’s about the people you lead
Some people have a warped idea of what it means to be a leader. It’s not about being a “my-way-or-the-highway” egomaniac who believes they are always the right answer. A leader is about the people they lead first and foremost. It’s about listening to the team, finding out their wants, hearing their difficulties, and affecting change based on that. Good leaders free up good employees to get the best work out of them. They make decisions and set directions, yes, but these should always be informed by the people doing the work.
Always keep learning
The moment you begin you have it all figured out is when you become a real liability in business. Besides your employees, you should keep up with other experienced business leaders, too. You can find a mentor for yourself, or you can attend networking events and take place in the marketplace of ideas. New work processes, new management techniques, new industry trends. Your knowledge must continually be updating if you’re to help your team continually evolve.
Beyond the tips above, remember to keep working on your soft skills. Practice confident public speech by striking up more conversations at random and by attending networking events. Spend time learning about the people in your business and their personalities. Find what motivates them and use that to frame how you communicate with them. Keep working on yourself and the confidence to be a natural leader will follow.