Ask SCORE: Lead and Manager Your Company
Among the many benefits of small business ownership is the opportunity to do things "the right way" when it comes to employees and customers.
No doubt we all can think of businesses that got started because the entrepreneur had a conflict with the style of his or her previous employer and set off to establish and run a company that "gets it right."
Once in charge, however, many small business owners find that leading, managing and motivating others involved with the business aren't as easy as they sound. 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," Blanchard says. "You cannot effectively lead if you do not know your own values."
Learning when and how to provide direction - defining roles, setting goals and priorities, scheduling, and evaluating results - and support - seeking input, listening, offering praise and encouragement, sharing information, explaining decisions and helping others solve problems - is an ongoing process for even veteran business owners.
Employees, vendors and customers all change. You need to make your leadership skills flexible as well.
For more leadership ideas, contact America's free and confidential source of small business mentoring and coaching. SCORE is a nationwide nonprofit association of experienced business people who provide free, confidential business counseling to small business owners.
The Sandhills chapter is active in counseling, mentoring and presenting free business seminars. If you wish to speak to SCORE about your business, please register as a client by entering your information at www.edmisscore.org/0364 and one of our counselors will contact you.
In addition to counseling by appointment, the Sandhills chapter of SCORE has drop-in service, for those who have registered, from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Fridays at the Moore County Chamber of Commerce building on U.S. 15-501 in Southern Pines. The phone number is (910) 692-3926
More information on SCORE's counseling activity and a complete description of its seminar can be found at the Sandhills SCORE website, www.sandhills-score.org.
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