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21 Entrepreneurs Explain How They Improve As Leaders

Effective leaders always look for ways to be better every day. You have to only work on yourself but your team while remaining positive despite the handles that may come along.  And every leader has the chance to become better regardless of their past mistakes. It starts by deciding what deserves your time and attention then focus on the things that you’re good at.

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners how they improve as leaders and here are the insightful responses.

#1- Holding people accountable

Photo Credit: Eliza-May Austin

Create structure, for others and for yourself. Nice, polite people tend to have an icky feeling when they tell people what to do, but creating boundaries and definition is what helps those around you progress, and see their own progression. If employees feel measured against something tangible, they see improvement in their own skills and achievements, without creating structures and holding them accountable to those structures you’re doing them an injustice. It took me a while to realise this, when I started firmly holding people accountable to their actions, or lack of, I saw an improvement in my own leadership style.

Thanks to Eliza-May Austin, th4ts3cur1ty.company!


#2- Humility and feedback

Photo Credit: David Vranicar

Don’t be afraid to ask your employees for feedback on your leadership style or how the company is run. Are there improvements that could be made in the onboarding or training process? Be willing to listen and take into consideration all answers given and be ready to make changes. Once you realize that constructive criticism is the only way to improve, you’ll be motivated to ask for feedback.

Thanks to David Vranicar, FBS Fortified and Ballistic Security!


#3- Listening

Photo Credit: Shanka Jayasinha

Every leader needs to listen to the people he is serving. Therefore, I make it a point to listen to my partners, employees, suppliers but also shareholders. I regroup and rearrange the feedback from most urgent to less and create plans whether they be deployed over the next years or next minutes. From there, I learn from the mistakes and successes but none of the learning would happen if I did not listen.

Thanks to Shanka Jayasinha, Edge AI Technologies!


#4- Learning to be a good leader

Photo Credit: Dan Bailey

My father taught me that the best way to lead was to do so by example, and to never ask those you’re leading to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. Because of this, I’ve approached my business as a means by which I must learn. I learned how to handle every aspect of it before I hired people for those positions. While this may be something small business owners are familiar with, I think we lose sight of it as our companies grow. It’s always good to have a refresher.

Thanks to Dan Bailey, WikiLawn!


#5- Courage

Photo Credit: Albert Laster

The courage to admit you are wrong allows you to learn from your mistakes. The courage to step out of your comfort zone allows you to seek new challenges and push new boundaries. The courage to have difficult conversations allows you to become a better communicator. Courage is the key attribute a leader need to posses for constant improvement.

Thanks to Albert Laster, Home Living Lab!


#6- Two ways

Photo Credit: Tom Winter

I read a lot about leadership and the different methods people use to run their businesses around the world. I find books to be a great source of information and case studies that I can analyze and potentially apply to my business as well. Aside from reading, I rely a lot on people’s feedback about my leadership. I don’t ever ask them directly, but we have certain mechanisms for them to express their impressions and thoughts. It’s amazing how insightful this feedback was – my employees pinpointed some areas for improvement I wasn’t even aware of which helped me grow a lot as a leader. As much as I appreciate theory, I must not forget that I work with people and their thoughts are a very good indicator of my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. I always maintain a growth mindset and use these experiences to learn and improve further.

Thanks to Tom Winter, DevSkiller!


#7- Communicating effectively

Photo Credit: Rex Freiberger

Leadership wasn’t something that came naturally to me when I first started my company. I always assumed I’d be working side by side with others, not leading them. I had to improve myself quickly to keep things on track and be what my employees needed, and this involved learning how to effectively communicate with a large variety of people. While I know a lot of business owners and managers probably scoff at managerial training conferences, they were invaluable to me and I plan to keep going to them in the future.

Thanks to Rex Freiberger, Superlativ and GadgetReview!


#8- Planning for different scenarios

Photo Credit: Christopher Kemper

As a leader, sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and do the dishes, and sometimes you have to put on your captain’s hat and take charge.. This is especially important when a crisis or unforeseen challenge gets thrown at you. That’s when, as a leader, you need to create a scenario analysis and layout the plan for course correction. Equally important is knowing when you need to oscillate back to trusting your team to manage back to the goal at hand.

Thanks to Christopher Kemper, Palmetto!


#9- Learning from mistakes

Photo Credit: Greg Bond

To improve as a leader you must be willing to learn from your own failures and the failure of others. The best lessons I ever learned was when I thought I could do something all by myself, and then failed miserably. The smartest lessons I ever learned were when I saw someone else fail, and learned from their mistakes instead of my own. Do not be afraid to go out and try something because either you will succeed or you will learn.

Thanks to Greg Bond, Renovation 320!


#10- Connecting with the business

I believe your leadership capabilities are directly tied to how connected you are with your business. Knowing the ins and outs of your company is a must and that means getting your hands dirty by doing your employees’ job beforehand. Be your own marketing specialist before hiring an actual marketing specialist, deal with tech support yourself by learning the basics of coding, balance the books on your own and then hire an accountant. You will never excel in these roles, because by definition an entrepreneur is good at seeing the big picture by being mediocre in all lower positions.

Thanks to Dan Serbanescu, Leather Depot!


#11- Four ways

Photo Credit: Sylvia RJ Scott

First by correcting my mistakes in leadership activities when I realize there’s a better way to lead in the situation and it may be when people bring it to my attention. 2.) Read books by well-known entrepreneurship and business leaders like John Maxwell or Susan Solovic. Maybe even someone like Michelle Obama who is a leader in her own right 3.) turn to mentors and advisers 4.) What I wish I would have had over the past few years was a leadership coach. Someone who was truly a coach that would help fine-tune my leadership skills.

Thanks to Sylvia RJ Scott, Girl’s C.E.O. Connection™!


#12- Reading

Photo Credit: Ruben Bonan

I love learning new things and improving myself and the most impactful way to do it is reading. Indeed, when reading you are not in the leader’s shoes anymore, you are alone with yourself and a book, your mind is free of all the other thoughts. Those are the 4 books that had the most impact on me and I highly recommend to every entrepreneurs and business owners: -Radical Candor by Kim Scott -No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy -Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear and Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

Thanks to Ruben Bonan, Marketing Marvel!


#13- Being a mother and an entrepreneur

Photo Credit: Aleksandra Subara

As a mother of 3 under 5 who is running her own business that is disrupting the entire flower retailing market in Australia, I feel like I have the best of both worlds which not everyone has. My children teach me daily what it means to remain positive (even in the worst of times), how to be humble and appreciative (small achievements account for great success), how to be fearless and a go-getter (leaving no stone unturned) and never-ever giving up (because mom is a secret superhero). These qualities have enabled me to lead my children and my team of employees and achieve remarkable personal and business results each day!

Thanks to Aleksandra Subara, Uniting Flowers!


#14- Frequent self-reflection

Photo Credit: Dušan Goljić

I believe that in order to grow as a leader, you must practice self-reflection frequently and learn from your mistakes. Sometimes it’s hard to be honest with yourself which is why I have a personal coach whom I meet every week. I use these sessions to talk about my role in the entire business, the impact some of my decisions have as well as ways in which I can grow and improve. My coach asks me a lot of probing questions that make me stop and think about the decisions I made and their outcomes. After coaching sessions I usually have a list of next steps that I commit to in order to ensure I am really applying the concepts that we talked about. One way I know this strategy works is that I rarely make the same mistake twice. Instead, I use challenging situations as learning and growth opportunities.

Thanks to Dusan Goljic, Dealsonhealth!


#15- Candid communication streams

Photo Credit: Holly Hester-Reilly

The best way I’ve found to improve leadership is to develop many candid communication streams with direct reports and teams throughout the company. It’s critical that people feel they can collaborate with the leader rather than just be assigned work from the leader. Ways to set this up include creating regular workshops and forums, using tools at team meetings that allow for anonymous questions, and approaching 1/1 meetings as coaching sessions. From these communication streams, the leader can identify what problems their teams have and work with those teams to provide the clarity and support that makes teams excited to follow their leader.

Thanks to Holly Hester-Reilly, H2R Product Science!


#16- Using self-discipline to inspire others

Photo Credit: Isaac Hammelburger

Being a leader is not easy, you have to show your employees that you are worthy of their respect. The best trait to practice is self-discipline, to always be aware that your actions carry a certain amount of weight with them. It is best to use this discipline to inspire people to work better, help them by giving them praise, and show to them that you are also capable of the work they are doing. By helping your employees can you grow as a true leader and make your business a better place to work.

Thanks to Isaac Hammelburger, Search Pros!


#17- Self-awareness through assessment

Photo Credit: Dave Molenda

The better that you understand who you are leading, the better leader you will be. It starts with self-awareness. Once you are aware of your leadership style, then you learn how your team wants to be lead. Poor leadership is when a leader thinks that everyone on their team is just like them and needs to be led, just like them. The best tool to use is a DISC personality assessment. When everyone on the teams takes an assessment, then they all can better understand each other. The leader understands the type of leader they are and the team understands themselves better and can provide guidance to the leader on how to lead them.

Thanks to Dave Molenda, Positive Polarity, LLC!


#18- Performance review

Photo Credit: Brandon Howard

One thing that I do religiously every 3-6 months is give myself a performance review on how I am leading the company. This helps me identify the areas and opportunities I missed during that time period where I can improve in leading our team. This helps equip me with the knowledge and skills to better approach a situation for the future. Another tool that I use is accountability. By making two other team members partners in what we do at All My Web Needs, I have a group of people in leadership that can show me different perspectives and paths that are valuable to the future of our company. Collaboration through leadership gives ownership to other team members and allows us all to grow in what we do.

Thanks to Brandon Howard, All My Web Needs!


#19- I have two sets of mastermind groups

Photo Credit: Pedro Okoro

They complement each other. On then one hand, I have those groups where I pay a mentor that I look up to. On the other hand, I have my mastermind for a handful of qualified, high achievers who pay me to mentor them. I need my mentors to keep me on track. At the same time, members of my mastermind group challenge me and keep me on my toes! I take my courses, training programs, webinars and seminars very seriously. I also try to read widely and voraciously across different genres. I believe that when a leader stops improving, their organizations start deteriorating. Because of that, I always incorporate continuing entrepreneurial development into my strategic business plan.

Thanks to Pedro Okoro, Astute Copy Blogging!


#20- Habit stacking

Photo Credit: Sean Higgins

Take something small, something actionable, now look at your existing routine. The idea of habit stacking is to add a habit to your to the things you already get done every day. (use that sense of momentum to accomplish something else). For example: Rather than setting a goal to read 10 books per year ask where can you add reading a book to something you already do? Maybe after you eat breakfast. You can keep the book you’re reading on the table to provide a natural cue and after you eat, you read 10 pages. That sounds small but will enable you to finish over 9 books per year (pg average of 400 per book).

Thanks to Sean Higgins, BetterYou!


#21- Innovating and disrupting

Photo Credit: Andrea Loubier

A real leader should implement processes that are all based around innovation and being disruptive, so that I never find myself in a situation where we don’t have a stack of new ideas on tap. More often in 2020, leaders will schedule more brainstorming sessions, and ideas will be rewarded with incentives. This way, we can offer our customers exciting new features and keep at least two steps ahead of the competition, while also showing our team members exactly how to become leaders themselves.

Thanks to Andrea Loubier, Mailbird!


How do you improve as a leader? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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