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SCORE's Top Leadership Tips

Reach your full leadership potential with these ideas.

5 Tips for Hands-On

  1. Be there. Entrepreneurs warn that a successful can slip when an owner isn't there at least part of every day, keeping in touch with how things are going.
  2. Set an example for working hard. One wholesale bakery owner sometimes sleeps on the couch in his office so he can be there when the early shift comes in at 4 a.m.
  3. Don't confuse "hands on" managing with micro-. Set objectives and offer guidance, but don't make employees do every little thing your way. Gauge what they do by the results.
  4. Understand your business down to the last detail. The founder of a toy-store chain visits the stores and spends time doing each job (selling, clerking, etc.) and observing customers' reactions.
  5. Stay in touch with "stakeholders"--including customers, employees and suppliers.

5 Tips for Renewing Yourself as a Leader

  1. Take a time-out each day. Put a "Gone Thinking" sign on your door and don't let anyone disturb you.
  2. Pursue hobbies and interests outside your business. They'll provide relaxation and may inspire creative ideas you can feed back into the business.
  3. Take a vacation or a sabbatical. (But first, make sure you leave the company in good hands!)
  4. Spend time with your family. Kids provide a refreshing perspective.
  5. Do something you've always wanted to do but never did--learn to build a house, or take a course in acting.

5 Tips on Cultivating Confident Employees

  1. Ask them to be responsible for progressively larger projects.
  2. Use them as examples (in their presence) when describing to others how to do something.
  3. Give them feedback at various times during a project--not just at its completion.
  4. Send a note of praise to them or better still, to their direct boss.
  5. Ask for their opinions and advice on matters not necessarily related to their normal duties.

5 Tips on Effective Leadership

  1. Communicate clearly and routinely. Lay out your company goals and principles in a mission statement and keep sharing your vision with your employees.
  2. Involve employees in setting objectives. Give them feedback on how they're progressing toward meeting those targets.
  3. Give your people authority, then hold them accountable. But don't go after them personally when things go wrong. Find out first if the process is at fault.
  4. Be accountable yourself. Install an advisory board or executive team to help you make good strategic decisions and give you feedback on your own performance.
  5. Be trustworthy and extend trust to your employees. That'll help you earn their loyalty and strengthen your company.

5 Tips on Exemplary Leadership

  1. Give employees their freedom. Communicate the goals and let them figure out how to reach those goals. They want control over their working lives.
  2. Create an environment that encourages energy and spirit. That leads to happy customers.
  3. Strive to help employees feel that when they have accomplished the business's goals, they have also accomplished their own personal goals.
  4. Create a sense of meaningful purpose. Most workers want to feel they're engaged in something "larger than themselves."
  5. Recognize that leadership means responsibility and stewardship. "Leadership isn't rank, privileges, titles or money," says management thinker Peter F. Drucker.

5 Tips on Creating an Innovative Environment

  1. Show your employees you think of as an ongoing process. Some ideas will work and many won't. Keep experimenting.
  2. Listen, listen, listen. Innovation is a collaborative process.
  3. Be open to "accidents," the unexpected connections that spark new ideas. Inspiration comes from everywhere--often from outside your own field.
  4. Draw on your own employees--they know the company's problems and goals best. This is probably one time you don't need outside consultants.
  5. Be patient. can't be hurried.

5 Tips on Empowering Your Employees

  1. Organize an orientation session; answer the most frequently asked questions and walk employees through solving problems common to your business.
  2. Provide employees with the history behind procedures and policies. Background is essential for good decision making.
  3. Furnish the necessary resources. Whether it's a list of your contacts or where to find appropriate forms, give your employees the opportunity to succeed.
  4. Teach employees where to turn when they can't solve a problem; always going to the president shouldn't be the solution.
  5. Learn to delegate. Delegating tasks will build confidence and teach employees the necessary steps to follow in your business.

5 Tips on Knowing When You're Getting Stale

  1. If you've been running your business 10 years or more, it's probably time for fresh leadership. Consider bumping yourself up to chairman and getting a new CEO.
  2. Recognize that fatigue and boredom are signs you've been at the helm too long.
  3. Answer honestly: Are you resistant to new ideas and risks? It so, you may be impeding your company's progress.
  4. Ask yourself if you're still growing and . If not, that's another sign of personal stagnation as a leader.
  5. If you think you're becoming too set in your views, surround yourself with people who challenge your thinking.

5 Tips on Managing Yourself

  1. Recognize when you've outrun your abilities. When one entrepreneur saw that her skills weren't adequate to manage her company, she hired a president to handle day-to-day operations.
  2. Get a CEO coach. Skilled consultants can help you learn how to take your company to the next level. SCORE can help.
  3. Open yourself to being transformed. Listen, really listen, to employees. Let go of old notions of leadership (managing by fear, for example).
  4. Be self-aware. Many business owners say self-awareness is essential to understanding what leadership style works for you.
  5. Be a servant leader. Consider it your responsibility to serve employees and customers.

5 Tips on Teaching Employees to "Own" Their Work

  1. Include them in long- and short-term planning efforts.
  2. Ask for their input on projects for which they're held responsible.
  3. Include them on top-level discussions, conferences and meetings when appropriate.
  4. Allow them to byline the work they wrote or to speak at the presentation they helped prepare.
  5. Help them to become more vested in the work by asking for their opinion. Ask what, if anything, should be done to make the next project easier.

5 Tips on What Employees Want from You as a Leader

  1. Employees want to trust you and you to trust them. Begin by being trustworthy and extending trust.
  2. Employees want good two-way communication. Begin by being a good listener.
  3. Employees want to be challenged. Set forth your vision and goals clearly and then let your workers exercise their creativity and authority in meeting your goals.
  4. Employees want accountability. Not only should you hold them accountable for their own performance but you should measure your own performance as well.
  5. Employees want recognition. Offer praise and express appreciation at every opportunity.

Brought to you by SCORE , "Counselors to 's Small Business."

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