Employees want to feel valued and empowered. The most effective leaders know that.

“I don’t think [leadership] is about Maria having every answer every single day. I think it’s about championship,” says Maria Contreras-Sweet, the newest head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, in an interview with Entrepreneur.com during National Small Business Week last month. “I think it is important for me to listen to the people in the front line, understand what their obstacles are, and then [decide] how can I make sure that they are properly resourced.”

Managing a large number of employees is not new territory to the new SBA administrator. In addition to being an entrepreneur herself, Contreras-Sweet previously served as Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for California where she oversaw 42,000 employees over five years.

The greatest lesson she's learned along the way is that it's important to just listen to your employees. That and establish clear guidelines for what is expected. Watch this video to learn more about Contreras-Sweet’s views on leadership.

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