There are principles of business leadership that transcend the size of an organization. Leadership basics work whether a business is large or small. But there are differences, and one of those is that in many ways it’s easier to lead a small business than a large corporation. In a small business, the team members are more accessible to managers. Leaders can get closer to their people, and get to know them. And when a manager knows her or his people they can lead from a position of understanding. A small business leader who does that can work wonders.

10 Keys to Becoming a Small Business Leader

Hire for Character

It’s easy to get caught in the “hire for skills” trap. Hiring for character over skills often leads to large amounts of time training new hires. It means dealing with less production or lower performance as part of the learning curve. But the best teammates have character first. Think about it, have you worked with skilled teammates who made poor character choices?  How did they affect the team? Who Should You Hire?

Set Expectations

Giving your teammates a clear set of expectations not only establishes the direction of a small business it’s motivating. People want direction, and they love a mission—so give it to them. Set goals based on activities, share the results wanted, and schedule follow up. If You Don’t Set Expectations What Can You Expect?

Commit to Continuous Training

Training isn’t one and done—it’s ongoing. Training should begin on the first day, and never stop. It should be audited, repeated, and then advanced training should be offered.

Be a Mentor

Mentor more than one. Take direct reports under your wing. See more in them than they see in themselves.

Share a Vision

People want to be part of something that is meaningful. They want to know that what they do matters and that their contributions mean something. A vision doesn’t have to be solving world problems it can be as simple as striving to deliver the best possible product or service.

Listen with an Open Mind

If you’ve ever had a boss who wouldn’t listen or one that dismissed your ideas and suggestions, then you know how disheartening it can be. If you want to become a small business leader, listen to your team.

Be a Friend

Yes, a boss not only can be a friend—she or he should be. You see, true friends help each other. You should help your teammates.  Can a Boss be a Friend?

Create Owners

I’m not saying to give teammates stock in your company (and I’m not saying not to). Building ownership begins by involving your team in decision making, sharing responsibility, and giving recognition. You know you’ve succeeded when your staff uses the first person to describe the operation. “At my company…”

Become a Silo Bluster

Even small businesses build walls between individuals and departments. It’s easy to get caught up in the “This department stands alone!” syndrome. It doesn’t—it’s only one part of the whole operation. Tear Down Your Silos

Give Recognition

The best way I know to help people repeat positive behaviors is to reinforce the behavior. And the best way to do that is to recognize it.

Are You Leading Your Small Business?

Leading a small business has much in common with leading a larger organization, but I’ve done both, and for me, a small biz leadership role has the upper hand. A small business offers leaders the opportunity to mentor, train, and create owners. It’s a chance to watch people grow, and I can’t think of anything more satisfying as a leader.