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Developing Leadership Qualities

ID 110947357 © Photoking | Dreamstime.comThe start of a new year is a great time for small business owners to reflect on the kind of leaders they are or should be. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds, said: “the quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”

Because there are many qualities that go into being a great leader, I’m going to focus on them one at a time … one each month.

I’ve identified 12 qualities to be examined and how to develop them in yourself and your employees:

  1. Delegating
  2. Confidence/courage/inspiration
  3. Listening/communicating
  4. Integrity/honesty
  5. Decisiveness
  6. Creativity/vision
  7. Empathy/patience
  8. Openmindedness
  9. Grit
  10. Vision
  11. Taking responsibility
  12. Optimism


The first leadership quality on my list is delegating. This is defined by Merriam-Webster  as appointing, assigning, or entrusting responsibility or authority to another. But many business owners like to micromanage everything and can’t seem to let go of tasks that others in the company can or should do.

Benefits of delegating. Delegating is a win-win situation. From an owner’s perspective, delegating frees up time that can be spent on priority matters. It’s virtually impossible for a business to grow in a meaningful way unless an owner can delegate effectively. An owner needs time to plan. Delegating can also mean greater efficiency for the company where skilled employees can do activities better (and effectively at less cost) than an owner.

From an employee’s perspective, job satisfaction increases with responsibility. It is a way to empower employees, help them develop their job skills, and groom them for greater roles in the company.

How to delegate. Delegating doesn’t mean abdicating a role in an activity or task. A leader must still give direction and provide the necessary resources to see that things get done. A leader must be available for ongoing feedback and to help if problems arises.

Here are some guidelines to make delegating successful:

  • Identify what can be delegated. If an outsider were to look at what you do on a daily basis, it probably wouldn’t be hard to pick the tasks that others can do. Thus, you, as the owner, need to take a critical look at how you spend time each day to identify the tasks that can be delegated.
  • Select the right person for the job. Decide who in the company is best suited to take responsibility for a particular task or project.
  • Explain what needs to be done. It’s essential that employees to whom activities are delegated fully understand what’s expected of them and how you envision the completed task. It can be helpful to set deadlines and check in on the progress of the activity.
  • Reward successful completion. This can be anything from a simple thank you to a monetary expression of thanks.
  • Review the process. To make improvements, evaluate how your delegating worked out. Was it entirely successful so that you can repeat your actions? Were there things that could be improved?

Final thought

Let me close with another quote, this one from Vince Lombardi: “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”

So develop your delegation abilities. Next month’s developing leadership qualities focuses on confidence/courage/inspiration.

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