If you’re a business owner with a team of employees, you are a business leader. Good leaders understand the link between happy and fulfilled employees and satisfied customers and clients. Your employees can be a goldmine of good ideas and creative energy, as well as your strongest resource, provided you empower them to be leaders themselves.
Here are some ways you can bring out the leader in each of your employees:
- Be an Encourager. Employees often have fresh ideas or suggestions, but may not voice those ideas because they don’t feel their manager is interested in hearing what they have to say. Encourage your employees, regardless of their status within your business, to contribute their ideas. Even if you decide an employee’s idea won’t work, thank them for their suggestion and encourage them to continue suggesting new ideas.
- Get Everyone Involved. Leaders who aggressively solicit ideas from their staff usually find that doing so improves morale, which in turn creates positive change within the business. Strive to foster a climate of openness within your business. Attempt to engage your employees in the innovation process, and reward them for their input with verbal thanks and positive encouragement along the way.
- Get to Know Each Employee Personally. It’s impossible to motivate employees without first getting to know them. Make a point of having a one-on-one meeting with each member of your staff. Once you start to gauge the strengths of each member of your team, you can help them develop leadership capacities that suit those strengths, as well as strategies to improve upon any possible weaknesses.
- Reward Great Ideas. It’s important to acknowledge and reward employees whose good ideas help lead to positive changes. You may consider establishing an award or giving a gift of recognition. Then, get out of the employee’s way and let him or her lead the development opportunity (with your support).
- Find Their Motivation. Learn to recognize what motivates each employee, and encourage those things in each of them. This will coax your employees to become leaders instead of followers. With a little perseverance, your team will begin to work collaboratively to lead the business to success.
- Develop a Sense of Urgency. To make leaders out of your employees, each must believe that they have an urgent and worthwhile purpose within the organization. Establishing a sense of urgency and direction will help them know what your expectations are, and prompt them to take on a more meaningful role in the company today.
- Keep Your Employees Informed. Praise your employees for what they’re doing right, and inform them about what they could be doing better. Challenge each of them to be the best they can be. Keeping your staff informed will foster respect and help them better meet your combined goals.
- Provide Positive Feedback. Reinforcement encourages employees to develop their skills to their maximum potential. Use your leadership tools — coaching, counseling, and mentoring — to help motivate them. And walk the walk as much as you talk the talk. Failing to lead by example can foster resentment and lead to low morale. Be sure to check out Do As I Do: How to Lead by Example for some helpful pointers.
- Allocate Decision-Making Power. Empower your employees by giving them the ability (within reason) to make key decisions relating to their jobs and duties. The more faith and trust you place in them, the more likely they will be driven to succeed and to impress you.
Be sure to also read Motivating Employees of Small Businesses for more helpful advice on this topic.