A new business needs a great leader. To excel in leading your business as an African entrepreneur, you’ll need to choose the right employees, delegate responsibilities, motivate them, and inspire them to believe in your business.
Here are four leadership tips to assist you in being a person your team will want to follow as you start your new business:
1. Inspiring belief in your vision
To inspire belief in your vision, you must lead by example. When you lead, do so with conviction and show your employees the passion you have for your business.
Because everyone watches the leader, your behavior must reflect what you want your employees to do. So if you want employees who hold the same belief in your vision and passion for your business, you’ve got to work hard and show the same dedication you expect of them.
For example, if your company has hit a recent roadblock, don’t let your employees catch you sulking or sinking into the negativity. Instead, highlight your optimism and work twice as hard until you’ve overcome the challenge so that your employees know they have a leader who is willing to work hard under any circumstances to make the company’s vision come to life.
Fulfilling your word and meeting your own deadlines will impress upon others that you take the business seriously, and encourage them to do the same.
2. Hiring the right employees
The first few hires to build your executive team are critical to the startup’s success. These employees will help you build your business strategy and meet your goals.
When you make an initial hire, do it slowly, ensuring each individual meets all expectations and is right for the role you need them to fill. You should try and find experts who are better than you at the tasks they are to perform, so you’ll fill in any gaps in experience or expertise. However, keep in mind that actual experience and talent isn’t as important as being passionate about your vision. Skills can be learned, and a good attitude shows potential for success.
When interviewing, use someone in the field to conduct the interview – this could be another employee, or a friend who works in that industry. For example, if you are interviewing for a sales position, bring in someone with sales experience to conduct the interview – they will know the essential qualities for the role. Also, use multiple interviews to keep the hiring process slow-paced in order to reduce the chances of making a bad hire. You can even start by hiring people on a part-time or trial basis to check they are suitable for the position, before making a full-time commitment.
You should ensure the first employees you hire will be loyal to your business and are interested in continuing to work with you as the startup grows. You can do this by eliminating reasons they may have for leaving you, such as:
- Offering ample opportunities for enhancing their professional skills
- Paying them fairly
- Allowing many paths to promotions
- Instilling a sense of trust and freedom by being flexible to their needs
A bad hire can cost you a lot of time and money. A report by GlobalHR found that 39% of businesses experienced a decrease in productivity due to a bad hire. If you realize a new employee is not living up to your expectations, take action quickly by creating a plan to improve their performance. If things still don’t improve, let them go sooner rather than later.
3. Delegating responsibilities
Running a startup is a job that needs a wide array of talents and can benefit from creative input from all members of your team. Trust your employees and delegate so that others can contribute to the business.
This can be difficult when the business idea was yours initially and you feel you are the best person to do everything. However, you can’t fill every role, and a team has more shared talent and problem-solving abilities than you will ever have by yourself. In addition, allowing others to have responsibility boosts their self-esteem and leads to better work performance.
Delegation is a core feature of the ‘startup mentality’ - where an inspired team works together, collaborating and using their varied talents to develop ideas and innovate. Startups have a goal-driven culture, and move quickly towards those goals. Instead of revolving around long meetings and routines, a startup is more agile – with quick collaborative meetings and lots of creativity.
As a leader, you should encourage questions and be comfortable with making changes as the business evolves. Mistakes are also a normal part of startups, with trial and error often playing a big role in developing new projects. Making room for these errors and encouraging others to tinker with new ideas can lead to true success.
4. Motivating your employees
One way to motivate and empower employees is by giving them time to improve their own knowledge. Research by Gallup found that 89% of millennial employees want opportunities to learn and grow. It is these opportunities that encourage employees to engage with their work and motivate them to perform better.
You can invest in initiatives that will help employees learn more, such as:
- Funding certifications
- Sending employees on conferences where they can network and learn from others
- Setting up mentoring systems, where more experienced employees can help out new, less experienced ones
An added benefit of encouraging your employees to further their education is that you can then promote them, rather than seeking new employees from outside, which will save time and money.
Another way to immensely motivate your employees is simply by respecting them. Listen to their opinions and ideas, and learn from their experience and talents. Keep an open door so employees feel comfortable coming to you for assistance or ideas. Showing respect also gains you respect. Develop a company culture that encourages sharing ideas and appreciates every individual employee’s contributions to the business.
The key to being a great leader is choosing your employees wisely and running your business with a startup mentality, to encourage collaboration and innovation. With all of your employees on board, working towards your business goals and vision, you can be sure to lead your startup to success.