Great leadership can motivate people. Great leaders nurture, inspire and grow with their team, communicate their ideas effectively and are flexible enough to solve problems along the way.

If you take a closer look at how great leaders actually run their business, you will find that most have similar methods of ensuring they get the most from their people, and themselves.

Here are my top five leadership lessons for business owners.

  1. Continue to learn

The workplace is always evolving. Not just in terms of the people and projects that may come and go, but in the way that it needs to be run to ensure growth and profitability. Like any professional, leaders must keep their knowledge and skills up to date to better equip themselves to deal with the changing landscape of business.

The past two years are a great example of how those in leadership roles must also be able to adapt to better guide their team and continue to drive profits, even in challenging times. Most businesses who have weathered – or even excelled in – the Covid-19 storm have leaders who are flexible and committed to learning how to guide their people in the most trying of circumstances.

Self-improvement is the cornerstone of learning – to understand how to lead people, you must first understand how to lead yourself. Lead by example and you will gain the trust and respect of your people.

“Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.” – Unknown

  1. Ensure you have the right people in the right role

Job satisfaction is key to ensuring an engaged, committed, highly-functioning team. You could have an excellent team member who is reliable, a great communicator and goes above and beyond, but if they are not in a role where they can flourish, they will never be truly satisfied at work.

An unfulfilled employee will also likely be more reliant on external drivers, such as bonuses, and will be more likely to leave if a better monetary offer comes along, even if you have the best people and culture practices in place.

However, those in the right role are more likely to be self-motivated and self-fulfilled because they are doing a job they enjoy.

An accurate job description can help ensure you get the right person for the right role, even before you start the interviewing process. Also try and think of ways to assess compatibility with the role beyond an interview – having them complete a role-based task, for example, or an aptitude test.

“You can’t make a square peg fit in a round hole. The time you waste trying to figure that out could be spent finding a round peg.” – Unknown

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of your personal leadership brand

Just as your business brand conveys your values to your customers, your personal brand helps communicate what you stand for to your team – your values, goals and beliefs.

Your personal brand is about curating the aspects of your personality that make you the best leader you can be. Draw on the personality traits that your close friends and family admire about you and use these attributes as a cornerstone of a powerful personal brand that people respect, trust and want to emulate.

It is also important, however, to acknowledge your weaknesses. This makes you more human and more relatable to your people. It comes back to leading by example. Be the person you want your people to be – aware of their strengths and weaknesses and striving for self-improvement. Provide a nurturing workplace culture to allow this.

Read more about developing your authentic leadership style here.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

  1. Seek and embrace new ideas in leadership

A sure-fire way to make your people feel undervalued is not allowing their opinions to be heard.

No-one has all the answers, not even those in a leadership position. As I said before, flexibility is key to navigating the ever-changing business landscape. Those businesses that embrace new ideas are the ones that are more likely to profit – and you have a great source of new ideas in the form of your people.

To find new ideas for your business:

  • Stop talking and start listening
  • Actively ask your team for ideas – you can use meetings, surveys, 1:1s, etc
  • Keep an open mind

By embracing new ideas, you gain respect from your team, and might just unearth a winning business strategy in the process.

“Creativity in life is about saying yes to new ideas.” – Nolan Bushnell

  1. Give back to the community

Of course, everyone should make time to give back to others. The great thing about giving back as a business is that you also get to make a difference to your people.

Giving back as a business makes employees proud to work for the company, boosts morale and directly impacts the very community where your employees and their families live.

You might also want to consider company-sponsored volunteering when it comes to charitable giving as it is shown to:

  • Broaden skill sets and improve staff leadership – reported by 92% of staff
  • Boost employee wellbeing – reported by 77% of staff
  • Boost morale – reported by 70% of staff
  • Strengthen bonds with work colleagues – reported by 64% of staff

(Source: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/us-deloitte-impact-survey.pdf)

“Those who are happiest, are those who do the most for others.” – BT Washington

Which of these leadership lessons do you think is the most important for aspiring business leaders? What other lessons do you live by as a leader?