The role of owner and leader in a company often conflate, especially in the small business sphere. And yet being an owner and being a leader is not the same. An owner is someone who had the initial idea and resources for a company and created the business. A leader is a person who inspires and motivates, who influences the staff to support company vision.

Like public speaking, many people think of leadership ability as something ingrained. But the reality is, you can learn and master the skills required to become an effective leader. Here are some tips to improve leadership in a small business.

1. Learn how to communicate

Communication is the key to order, to a well-run company. It helps you understand your employees and it helps your employees understand the company vision and what management expects from them. Communication is not limited to verbal and written abilities, but also the art of active listening. Hold regular meetings to give your staff a chance to address their professional concerns and questions. And who knows? As everyone has a unique perspective, perhaps you will discover that your employees have solutions to company issues.

2. Utilize effective delegation

Leaders often take on too many tasks and assignments when they can delegate to employees. Share your work so you have more time to focus on priority projects. Delegation shows that you trust your employees and fosters their growth. However, be careful that you never look like you are slacking off. If your employees feel that they are working harder than you, you will quickly lose respect.

For a more detailed article on effective delegation, read “When to Delegate vs When to Tackle the Work Yourself”

3. Plan a lucid strategy for your business

A true leader knows where the business needs to go next and after that. Try to set targets that are both ambitious and realistic. An ambitious target will challenge your coworkers and improve their skills; keeping targets realistic will avoid an environment of discouragement in the office. Make your coworkers and staff better visualize the strategy. Break down your vision into achievements and deadlines, then manage various actions and tactics to reach them.

4. Improve management skills

Management is more than being a boss. More than providing rules, policies, and standard procedures, a leader sets clear expectations for employees and offers guidance. Guidance is given through various ways, by mentoring, by being a role model, and by providing positive motivation. When the team believes in company management, they will put in trust, respect, and become more productive.

You might think that developing these skills will take time and energy. Yes, they do. But the dividends are great. Loyal staff helps your business in the long-term. They are more engaged and company turnover rate will be lower, so you can focus your energies on moving the company forward rather than the hiring process. Most important, a loyal staff is more productive.

For more on company productivity, read “4 Tips to Maximize Business Productivity”