1. Have a vision for your company and communicate it effectively to your team
It is not enough to just have a big vision. Involve your team in the development of this vision so that they feel connected to it. This will encourage them to work hard toward the fulfilment of that dream/vision.
Show your team the big picture, the future prospects and where you want to see the company five years from now and allow them to help give it shape. Let your team members understand their role in making the vision come true.
Communicate to them they are the pillars of the company and are not just cogs in the wheel.
2. Lead by example
Leaders are looked up to for inspiration. Be a hands-on leader, who offers help, pitching in where needed, guiding, mentoring and problem solving.
Step in where you are needed but avoid stepping on toes. Don't be over-bearing, over critical or take over other's work.
Your objective is to inspire your team, not to de-motivate your team.
3. Know your employees
Create a personal bond with your employees. This is especially important for small business owners as they have to motivate a small team to perform multiple tasks efficiently.
Getting to know employees on a personal level helps increase productivity, lowers attrition at the workplace and encourages them to put in extra effort.
4. Take ownership
Good leaders delegate intelligently. Distribute work according to the capability of each employee so that you can enable the best results. Knowing each employee on a personal level also helps you to better understand his/her work capabilities.
Don't accept under performance. It's your responsibility that all team members are performing at good levels. And when it comes to taking ownership and responsibility for the bigger picture, that's your responsibility, too.
5. Be a good listener
Leadership does not mean doing all the talking. You have to be an equally good listener. You have to listen to others with patience and understanding to keep them motivated, know their problems, ask questions and keep updated on what your team is thinking.
6. Be courageous and confident
Being indecisive can spell doom for any business. Be a leader who has the courage of conviction, can make bold decisions (based on carefully considered alternatives) and has the confidence to lead from the front.
Even if your decisions occasionally do not bring about the desired results, take the responsibility and acknowledge your mistakes. Learn from your mistakes so that you can avoid them in the future.
7. Have a positive attitude
A positive attitude, a smiling, confident approach and a warm, assuring persona is essential to be a leader who inspires his/her team.
Don't let everyday challenges and problems make you lose your own positive attitude. If the captain of the ship despairs, his team surely will.
Face every challenge as a speed breaker on the road, back your team 100% through thick and thin and be the voice of reason, not anger or stress.
8. Pick up leadership skills from other leaders
Leadership skills can always be honed and sharpened. The best way to do that is to confer with other business owners or undergo an executive coaching session. Executive coaching sessions on a one-to-one basis are great ways of identifying your own strengths and weaknesses.
You can join a CEO association or CEO club where you get to meet fellow business owners who have faced and overcome similar kinds of leadership challenges. There is nothing better than a reliable CEO club or association for getting hands-on tips from people who have "been there and done that"!
It is said, "Great leaders are made, not born, so anybody can develop effective leadership skills if they decide to develop themselves in this way."