For small business owners, many of whom are focused on meeting daily production goals or making next week’s payroll, the concept of hiring a professional coach to help them grow as a leader sounds like a luxury. While multinationals and huge corporations can easily allocate a part of their budgets to executive coaches, training seminars, and organizational development, the small business owner really feels every dollar that goes out the door.
Developing leadership skills isn’t cheap or quick. So is it really worth it if you only have a few employees?
If you’re a small business owner and you’re thinking about hiring a leadership coach, consider the following observations that I’ve made based on my own experiences working with small business owners in West Michigan:
[Tweet “All small business owners are already leaders; a lot of them just don’t know it yet.”]
How is that possible? Many times, an entrepreneur will start a business and find that it begins to rapidly grow up around them like a rogue shrub. They didn’t set out to be the head of an organization, but as their business grew, they started hiring people out of necessity, then more people and more people… An individual who is an expert at precision machining or designing websites, suddenly finds him- or herself having to deal with something infinitely more complicated than machines and software: people.
Then the small business owner becomes a firefighter, spending an inordinate amount of time putting out fires in the organization while remaining deeply involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Before they know it, their company is running them instead of them running their company. “Once I get things running smoothly enough operationally,” they think, “then I can put some thought into strategy and leadership.” However, this day never seems to arrive and the company becomes more and more dependent on them to function. Work life and home life begin to become so intertwined that it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. Their spouses and families get frustrated.
A failure to lead effectively can be extremely devastating for a small business and for the household of a small business owner.
A paradigm shift is needed among small business owners: Good leadership is the cornerstone of an organization, not the capstone.
Get your leadership skills tuned up first and many other issues will fall into place. Good leaders empower and motivate individuals. Good leaders inspire employees to start solving their own problems and take initiative. Good leaders build teams that are highly adaptable and have synergy. Good leaders encourage ideas to originate from every level of the organization. Good leaders develop a culture of vitality instead of one of cynicism which makes people actually look forward to going to work on Monday morning.
The opportunity to lead people is a great responsibility, privilege, and an honor that most small business owners never asked for. If you’re a small business owner who is reluctant to lead, keep in mind that you’re in good company. Accept the challenge and take comfort in the fact that history is full of many great leaders who never had any desire to become one.