How to Develop Strong Leadership Skills in Your Small Business

Most small businesses do not have the capital to hire leaders from the outside, so it’s essential to develop them from within the existing workforce. By identifying individuals with leadership potential and providing them with the support and guidance they need, small businesses can foster the growth of strong, effective leaders who can help drive the success of the business. 

5 Ways to Identify Leadership Potential in Your Business.

The first step in developing leaders from within your company is to identify who has the potential to be a leader.

Here are a few ways you might approach it:

  1. Observing individuals in their current roles to see how they handle challenges and responsibilities. Do they take initiative, solve problems, and work well with others?
  • Talking to people in the company to get their perspectives on who has leadership potential. Who has a good reputation and inspires confidence in others?
  • Evaluating individuals’ personal qualities, such as their communication skills, emotional intelligence, and ability to think strategically. Do they have the qualities that are typically associated with effective leaders?
  • Providing leadership training and development opportunities and observing how individuals respond to these challenges. Do they show a willingness to learn and grow? Do they make progress over time?
  • Asking individuals to take on leadership roles in specific projects or initiatives and seeing how they perform. Do they show the ability to motivate and guide others? Do they achieve their goals?

The best fit for your company will depend on the specific needs and culture of your company. It may be useful to try a combination of these approaches and see what works best for you.

Provide Mentorship to Develop Leadership Skills.

Mentorship can be a valuable tool for individuals in a small business setting, providing guidance and support as they develop their leadership skills. Mentoring helps business owners foster a positive and supportive work environment, which can lead to increased productivity and overall success for the business. 

As a leader in a small business, it’s your obligation to help your employees get the guidance they need in order to develop leadership skills. 

Choose One Person and Personally Mentor Them.

There’s no better inspiration to an employee than to be working directly with the head honcho —on your team or as a partner.  

If possible, choose a promising employee. Set aside time to work side by side with them, giving them some of the workload under your supervision. The work should be meaningful, not some tedious tasks you don’t want to do yourself.  

As they work with you, explain to them the importance of what they’re working on and how it will benefit the business and the people who work there.  You will be helping them develop the skills of a leader.

Consider Other Mentor Options.

Resources and time may feel like they are in short supply for you to do it all, but there are numerous ways to provide mentorship. 

For example:

  • Pairing employees with more experienced colleagues who can provide guidance and support as they tackle new challenges and learn new skills.
  • Providing regular feedback and coaching to employees, helping them to identify areas for improvement and providing them with the tools and resources they need to grow and develop.
  • Encouraging employees to take on leadership roles within the company, such as leading a team or project, and providing them with the support and guidance they need to succeed in these roles.
  • Offering professional development opportunities, such as workshops and training programs, to help employees build their leadership skills and knowledge.
  • Providing opportunities for employees to attend industry conferences and events where they can learn from experts in the field and network with other professionals.
  • Encouraging employees to seek out mentors outside of the company, such as through professional organizations or networking groups.
  • Establishing a mentorship program within the company where employees can be matched with mentors based on their specific goals and needs.
  • Creating a culture of continuous learning and growth, where employees are encouraged to take on new challenges and are supported in their efforts to develop their skills and knowledge.
  • Providing resources and support for employees to pursue additional education and training, such as through online courses or degree programs.

Revisiting the Org Chart and Defining New Roles.

To provide opportunities for junior employees to gain leadership experience, create new leadership positions within the company. These roles should be designed to allow junior employees to learn and develop their leadership skills, while having little impact on the company’s day-to-day operations. 

For example, you might add roles like these to your org chart under the Operations department:

  • Operations Administrator
  • Operations Facilitator
  • Production Specialist
  • Order Fulfillment Coordinator
  • Supply Chain Specialist

In your marketing department, you might add roles like these:

  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Brand Specialist
  • Social Media Specialist
  • Website Manager

By giving your employees the opportunity to see themselves as leaders and people of importance, you can help them grow and succeed in their careers.

Organize Group Leadership Training Classes.

Providing group leadership training classes is another effective way to help employees develop their skills. These classes allow employees to learn and practice in a collaborative and supportive environment. 

To ensure that the training is high-quality and effective, it’s a good idea to bring in a trainer who specializes in leadership to facilitate the classes

Recognize Leadership Achievements in Employees.

Recognizing leadership achievements in employees is an important part of supporting and encouraging their development. It can motivate them to continually improve and build a culture of leadership within the organization.

There are many ways to do this such as promotions, bonuses, and awards. Develop a plan for recognition and be consistent. 

When businesses invest in their employees with opportunity and recognition of achievement, they are rewarded with the leaders they need to keep the business humming and growing.