Develop Leadership Skills to Secure Your Small Business Success

SCOREThis article is provided by the Greater Scranton Area SCORE chapter.

Successful business owners shine at most aspects of operating their business. Usually they’re great at planning, or marketing, or creative thinking or crunching numbers, or knowing just how to satisfy customers. But when it comes to leading, managing and motivating others involved in the business, whether employees, outside sales reps or key partners, they sometimes fall short.
One reason is widespread confusion about the difference between “managing” and “leading.” Leadership experts say they are two very different roles, even though most small business owners consider them the same.

“Managing” implies structure, control, rules, deadlines and efficiency, says Ken Blanchard, best-selling author of The One Minute Manager. But according to Blanchard, “leadership” is nearly the opposite of “management.” Leading requires actions that are more experimental, unstructured, visionary, flexible and passionate. Managers and leaders think and behave differently.

Blanchard and his partner Drea Zigarmi spent seven years studying how business leaders exert influence and how their values, beliefs and personalities contribute to their success—or failure. Through it all, one finding was clear: A one-size-fits-all style of leadership does not exist.

Owning a business automatically puts you in a position of leadership. Your goal is to engage employees, partners, vendors, investors, independent contractors or other participants in your venture in a course of action that helps achieve a mutually shared vision. But being in a leadership position does not necessarily make you a leader.

Many entrepreneurs turn to management techniques to enlist the minds and muscles of the people they lead, but fail to capture an equally important component—their hearts. If you merely work to focus activities of followers and fail to engage them in a purpose, you won’t likely be seen as a good leader.

“The first step to becoming a better leader is to study yourself and get honest, unfiltered feedback about how you are doing from the people you lead,” says Blanchard. “You cannot effectively lead if you do not know your own values.”

Try combining direction with support. Direction includes setting goals, scheduling, specifying priorities, evaluating results, defining roles and showing how results are to be accomplished. Support includes listening, praising and encouraging, seeking input, sharing information, offering reasons for decisions and helping others to solve problems.

For additional planning help for your small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.”  SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners.  Call (570) 851.1608 or visit to contact the Greater Scranton Area SCORE Chapter.