Leadership Skills for SMEs to work upon

Leaders must realize that as the company grows, they lose the ability to be involved in every important task or be at every important meeting, they need to rely on their teams. They lack the support structure that will keep the people engaged.

According to a paper published by Walden University in 20191, “More than 60% of SMEs do not survive for longer than 5 years; a lack of leadership skills is among the key problems.” It must be noted that the enterprise has survived the startup stage and as such the leader has already demonstrated grit and diligence. However, the role of a leader changes as the organizations grow to become SMEs. A failure to adapt your leadership style at this time may lead to failure.

While start-ups require their leaders to keep a very big focus on daily execution, getting engaged in even the smallest day-to-day activity, the leaders in larger organizations tend to focus more on to creating growth plans, working on long-term strategy, and setting company direction on macro-level. Leaders in SMEs must exist in the twilight, they need to contribute to the big things as well as the small ones.

People are at the core of your business

Leaders must realize that as the company grows, they lose the ability to be involved in every important task or be at every important meeting, they need to rely on their teams. They lack the support structure that will keep the people engaged.

So, they need to take that as their first and most important task, they need to do the following three things:

  • Inspire: Take every opportunity to connect and inspire people in your team. Talk about the vision, talk about what you can achieve together. Remember, today they are probably required to put in more than 100% and they will do it only if they believe in the future. Even if you must repeat yourself multiple times a day to different people, stay enthusiastic when you talk about the vision. Keep inspiring. Give meaning to their jobs, show them the big picture.
  • Cultivate Trust: Continue to build trust with your team as well as your customers and other stakeholders. One of the easiest ways to build trust is to have a high say/do ratio. Do you always do what you say? What if circumstances change and you cannot meet your commitment? The moment you realize you cannot, call ahead and apologize, set up new mutually acceptable timelines. Show them that you care and that they are right in front and center.
  • Acknowledge: Appreciate the efforts of your team members, tell them when their work made a difference.

Learn and Adapt

The shift from execution to long term strategy is not easy, neither is the shift from being a manager to being a leader. Both require expanding your understanding and that of your team members. Like I said, the leaders have already proven themselves by making their organizations grow from a mere startup to an SME, now all they need to do, is to have continued commitment to growth. The leaders do not have endless time so let us focus on the top three key factors that will give them the biggest return on investment:

  • Conversational Intelligence: Improve your Conversation quotient to get most from each of your conversations.
  • Become a more HUMAN leader: Connect deeply and create a high-performance team.
  • Positive Intelligence : Stay in an empowered mindset and learn to convert challenges into opportunities.

This blog has been authored by Manbir Kaur, an Executive & Leadership Coach and an Author.