Some just don’t think it’s important, or they value marketing, finance, sales, technical or other skills more highly. Others simply don’t grasp what it takes to lead others in a business, or just how much others look to them for leadership. Still others think they are leading, but are oblivious about what that really takes.Thought Leader

Every entrepreneur – and certainly the most successful ones – know how to get things done. They have vision and are willing to take risks.

Rarer on those who truly care about the people who work for them, and know how to grow a successful business while at the same time building a loyal, productive, happy, and yes, “empowered” team.

Here are eight things that entrepreneurs can do to become better leaders as their companies grow:

1. Provide clear expectations. Others in the business – from partners, vendors and board members, to the newest employee – need clear direction from the top about where the business is going. Too many entrepreneurs believe that such things are self-evident. But they aren’t, and they need to be articulated early and often.

2. Create a culture and a sense of connection. Most people want a work environment that’s about much more than simply earning a paycheck or bonus. Great business leaders surround themselves with people who have mutual respect for each other and care about one another in a personal way. Leaders recognize people as individuals, not just “workers.”

3. Be consistent. Great leader-entrepreneurs provide a consistent message and make reasoned decisions without appearing arbitrary. That doesn’t mean they don’t change their minds or are inflexible. But when they do make a shift, they communicate the reasons and provide consistency going forward.

4. Be a relentless communicator. Great leaders stay in constant touch with the people they lead. They don’t just check in with an email request from time to time, or wait for others to come to them. They provide information, ask questions and seek opinions. It doesn’t require endless meetings, but it does require a measure of skill to make communications clear, understandable and free of business buzz words and technical jargon.

5. Show gratitude; praise publicly (and criticize privately). Some entrepreneurs are heavily ego-driven and want the focus on themselves. But it’s amazing how gratitude and public praise can uplift others and spur them to do more. People simply want to be appreciated. And leaders who show appreciation – by offering praise or gratitude – will in return foster a team of individuals who are loyal and willing to go the extra mile to help the business succeed. On the flip side of this, constructive criticism – which is perfectly fine and necessary – should be offered more privately.

6. Seek input, but be decisive. Some entrepreneurs think they have all of the answers themselves. Even if that’s true (unlikely, but you never know), great leaders still seek input from others. In any case, successful leaders are decisive – they don’t put things off or offer half-decisions that leave others wondering what they are supposed to do.

7. Liberate employees from overload. A fast-paced, high-intensity startup environment can easily morph into what feels like a 24/7 job with emails and urgent projects being debated at all hours of the night and on weekends. Some of that goes with the territory. But leaders who are sensitive to it also seek ways to relieve some of the pressure, by keeping meetings to a minimum and making them highly efficient, for example. Some bosses insist that emails include super-specific subject lines and must be brief and cover only one thing.

8. Help others be successful. This is fundamental to highly effective leadership. It’s one thing to praise people, and quite another to constantly be on alert about what guidance and resources they need to be successful themselves. It starts with leaders caring about others’ success as much – if not more – than they care about their own.

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