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Top Tips on Loyalty and Leadership Here are a few of the best tips for growing your leadership skills and building customer loyalty.

By Carol Tice Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're like me, you probably can't get enough advice on how to spur leadership and loyalty. Fortunately, those were the main themes behind this year's Successful Online Business Conference, or SOBCon, in Chicago.

Here are a few of the event speakers' best tips for growing your leadership skills and building customer loyalty:

Former Yahoo exec Tim Sanders, author of Love is the Killer App and Today We are Rich, spoke on overcoming fear in order to excel:

  • Don't suffer from "small pie" disease, as this leads to fear and inaction. There's enough to go around. Share and you will be rich.
  • Feed your mind good stuff. Make a habit of reading something uplifting and inspiring first thing each day, not diving straight into business emails or Twitter.
  • Go on a "mind diet." Write down the media you're consuming now and how long you spend on it -- then, cut the time you spend exposed to negative and stressful media.
  • The only thing that's as strong as fear is validation. Park positive memories of times you succeeded by the front door of your mind. That way, you can revisit them to build your confidence.
  • Criticism to your face is a gift. Treat critical information like a pecan: Eat the nut, or the useful grain of truth, and throw away the shells, whatever doesn't resonate for you.
  • Follow your purpose, not your passion. Align your work activities with your values, and you'll love what you do and make a big impact.

Actor-turned-businessman Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid, talked about how to foster growth at your company:

  • Think bigger about who you are. There are three types of business owners: dabblers, dreamers and leaders in pursuit of mastery. The future belongs to the learner.
  • Marketing doesn't get you clients. It creates awareness, which can then lead to sales after you build trust with those prospects over time.
  • Put up a red velvet rope. Instead of having a desperate, take-all-comers outlook, position your company to take only the best clients who let you do your best work. That will lead to more great clients and enjoyable work.
  • Kill your elevator speech. Who wants to listen to those? Instead, develop a personal brand identity that's true to who you are, and talk about it.

SOBCon co-founder Terry St. Marie of the consulting firm InsideOut Thinking talked about focusing on What Makes Them Happy, or WMTH, as the path to successful leadership of your employees:

  • Besides the money, what makes them happy? Think about why employees stay with you. They might take pride in their work, enjoy serving customers well or like being part of a great team.
  • Respect their contribution. Go out on jobs and learn exactly what workers do. Then show your respect by setting policies and rewards that reflect your understanding.
  • Turn your goal into a cause. Recast the company's goals into a cause -- that is, Instead of "hit budget metrics" it might be "to serve our customers well and support each other," which is also likely to help hit budget numbers. It's easier to get workers invested in a cause they embrace.
  • Connect the dots. Show workers how supporting the cause will grow sales, and, in turn, give them more of WMTH -- a better work environment with fewer problems and conflicts.

How do you define leadership? Leave us your tips for successful leaders in the comments below.

Carol Tice

Owner of Make a Living Writing

Longtime Seattle business writer Carol Tice has written for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Delta Sky and many more. She writes the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog. Her new ebook for Oberlo is Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.

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