For many small business owners, building a team of creative, passionate team members seems like a distant dream—something they'll never be able to achieve. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Inspiring a team to follow you is not about the money or tight control. It's about leadership. So what makes a great leader? Here are five guiding principles that some of the best of the best live by.
1. Love Your Team
Your team members are not units of production. Each of them has been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and each of them has been gifted by God in special ways (1 Corinthians 12:11) . They are people who all have hopes, dreams, fears and struggles. And every single one deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and a caring heart.
As Dave Ramsey says, "Love your team well; treat them like family, and they will act like family."
2. Give Praise
King Solomon once pointed out that “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). That means a little praise can go a long way, so start making a habit of catching people doing something right—and let them know about it.
A sincere compliment is so unusual that it immediately sets you apart. A simple nod or smile showing your approval will do. Or take a few minutes and write a personal note. How about recognizing them in front of their peers? These simple gestures can create magic in a matter of moments and can easily be started today.
3. Seldom Use Your Power
A boss has an iron grip on his team, expecting every employee to immediately jump at his command. He has more rules than Stalin and spends all of his time ensuring that his mandates are followed. Workers know "the boss" holds all the cards. Disobey, and you could be gone in an instant.
A leader, however, realizes the only power they can use is persuasion. Dave Ramsey says, "If you want employees, then boss them around; if you want team members, explain why you do what you do . . . Don't lead with threats and fear."
4. Surround Yourself With Rock Stars
Paul told the Corinthians that “evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33), but the basic principle reaches much farther back than that. Solomon told his readers that “he who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). So, as a leader, it’s incredibly important to surround yourself with wise team members—or face the consequences.
Whether you’re trying to fill a minimum-wage job or selecting a new leader for your company, hold out for the absolute perfect person. Having the right people in the right positions allows you to do your best work. So take plenty of time, set your standards high, and keep crazy out of the building.
5. Cast Your Vision
If you play for something bigger than yourself, you play much harder and smarter. And the same holds true for your team. They work harder because there's a sense of calling.
So how do you let your team know they are doing something important? Repeatedly tell them what they're working for and why. Share your vision early and often.
The key to becoming a great leader is serving your team and everyone around you by putting them first. If you do, you'll be paid back in full with loyalty, hard work and extraordinary results.