In-house Training

How to Be a Good Leader - SME Perspective

We’ve all known or heard of, someone who is a great leader working in a reputable listed corporate. But a good leader is just as important in a small and medium enterprise (SME).

In fact, good leaders are crucial in SMEs because they fall in the middle of start-ups and large mature corporates, hence good leaders are essential in managing SMEs dynamically to grow and prosper. While a handful of people may be born a leader, the majority of good leaders were trained to lead. Consider some of the following tips for how to be a good leader in the world of SMEs:

Be emphatic

No one likes to work with a heavy-handed, order-giving manager, right? In an SME with a smaller group of employees, it is especially significant for the leader to demonstrate genuineness and respect to their team. It doesn’t mean that you have to be their best friends or always agree with them. It means to bring down the defensive walls and show mutual respect. Listen to their problems and offer them solutions or flexibility as needed. Are you still the boss? Yes, but with greater respect and loyalty from your employees.

Be accountable

Failure is not fatal. But a wrong way of handling it could be. Finger-pointing and screaming to your team only diminish your value as a leader while not helping the company to grow from it. Instead, explore with your team what went wrong, how to fix it and avoid it in the future, and what are the lessons learned. Take responsibility together with your employees and support them to learn and grow from it. Together, identify the root causes and search for solutions. Hold employees accountable as needed with grace, but also take responsibility for your role in the defeat.

Be clear

Incorporate a shared vision and make sure everyone across the company understands the importance and purpose behind the vision. A good leader makes it crystal clear to their employees what they are working towards and why. Employees are more willing to support the company’s goal when they understand the purpose they are trying to attain. Be concise in setting goals and vision, avoid vague wordings, and ensure they are properly communicated to the employees before they started their journey with you. Most importantly, set yourself as an example in pursuing the vision while leading others to work towards it together.

Be open

The corporate world is dynamic, be it for an SME or a billion-fortune company. A good leader embraces innovation and change, rather than fighting to maintain the status quo. Being open to innovative thoughts enables leaders to gain advantage from every possibility and potential. When solving an issue, encourage the team to brainstorm and offer insights, as it is not only motivating but also enables new ideas to be brought to the table. Who knows? The next remarkable innovation may emerge from the team you are leading.

Be their coach

Last but not least, coach your employees rather than give orders. Commanding and controlling your employees are not going to reach the degree of engagement you are expecting. Coaching is about unlocking and enabling potential, it creates an atmosphere where your employees feel safe to provide feedback and happy to collaborate. A good leader plays a role here to teach the team instead of simply throwing orders at them. Coach them by helping them to recognise the choices they have, and allowing them to take ownership of their direction in reaching the ultimate goal.