And for those who don’t make the shift at an early stage, it gets more and more difficult as the company grows in size. Here are seven leadership skills every entrepreneur needs to learn.
How to build a support network
Good leaders surround themselves with advisers who can provide mentorship, counsel or simply a sounding board to run ideas past. Such relationships can be formal – a business coach, say – or structural – chief executives often get great benefit from working with the right non-executive chairman. They may be external – the right professional advisers will provide crucial perspective – or come from within the company – as part of a broad management team, for example. Be open to a broad range of ideas and to be able to take the best of the advice offered in order to synthesise it into action.
How to recruit and retain talent
Good leaders invest time in staff. Business leaders commonly credit their employees as their companies’ greatest asset, but too few follow through on that. They don’t always get involved in recruitment, for example, and they don’t build structures that will keep staff motivated, enable them to develop their skills, and ultimately encourage them not to look for new opportunities elsewhere. Employment engagement isn’t something fluffy – it’s the key to attracting and keeping the best people.
How to delegate
Good leaders empower their staff. Leaders who learn to delegate have more time to concentrate on leadership – rather than spending every moment managing day-to-day issues, they have space to stand back from their businesses and to plan for the future.
How to relinquish control
Good leaders deliberately hire talented people and then give them the freedom to deliver on those talents: they recognize there’s no point in delegating to employees if you don’t then trust them to get on with the task in hand. It can be difficult for entrepreneurs who have often built up businesses single-handedly, undertaking every task themselves, to learn to let go. But micro-managing staff is counter-productive: it wastes the leader’s time and demotivates employees who don’t feel that you have faith in them.