When I ask startup business owners and managers what their biggest challenges are, most of them are quick to mention things such as lack of capital, reliable employees, corruption in tendering and competition from bigger competitors.
When I ask employees of the same firms a similar question I get different responses. They mention various obstacles that have more to do with their bosses than market realities.
In brief, they blame their bosses for being insensitive to several small issues that are critical to the thriving of a business.
They include over-withdrawing of business money for personal use, ignoring needs and views of customers and employees as well as being detached from the business.
This confirms what John Maxwell once said: “Everything rises or falls on leadership. Contrary to what most of us think, the biggest challenge facing most firms has to do with leadership and not market realities.”
It is lack of management and people skills that hold back most firms, especially start-ups from taking off. If you studied two or more firms in any sector you will find that they grow at different rates. Although they may have employed different resources, their major determining factor is leadership.
Businesses in the same sector and locality typically have the same pool of potential employees to select and customers to woo. But the style of leadership and the level of commitment of the owner and managers determine the direction of the firm.
Leaders must of necessity lead by example. Leadership is wholesome and encompasses your character including your lifestyle in and out of business.
Things that most people take for granted such as having time for family, leading a healthy lifestyle, being Godly and continually pursuing self-improvement programmes such a taking some classes are great inspiration to employees.
Employees also get inspired by what you do for the firm, how you participate in solving problems or bringing in customers and required resources, not just idling around and complaining about how bad things are.
Be passionate about your role and achieving your set goal is a great source of hope and inspiration, especially in tough times.
Most business leaders paint a bleak picture of a firm that is undergoing a myriad of challenges such as debts, tough competition, a gloomy future and even losses just to deter employees from asking for a pay rise or better working conditions.
Although this may look like a good strategy to tame employee demands, it does work against the overall good of the firm because it also hurts their morale and output.
Being optimistic, exuding confidence and highlighting your successes, strengths and opportunities rather than threats and weakness will not only attract allegiance from your employees, it will help you become a better leader and an influencer.
Always remember that your income does not depend so much on how hard you work but how well you manage resources, people being the most important of them all.