If you’re going to be successful as an owner of a small business, particularly one with employees, you have to perform both roles well.

Management expert Peter Drucker writes, “Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.”

SCORE-Central Maine mentor Maurice Dube observes, “If you have already demonstrated leadership qualities by taking the initiative to start a small business and committing yourself to its success, you now have to translate that vision into a culture that will inspire and motivate employees to do their best. It is not always easy, but like most every other business skill, leadership skills can be learned.”

A positive attitude is at the foundation of leadership. But don’t let your confidence cloud your vision. You may have some good ideas, but your employees and advisers may have better ones, plus information and perspectives you haven’t considered.

Don’t surround yourself with people who always agree with you. Listen to all sides and opinions. Good leadership is also a product of learning as much as possible about what motivates your employees; while one may thrive on finding creative ways to solve problems, another may excel in a structured environment.

“Without getting too personal, understanding the issues that may affect each person’s job performance can enable you to better motivate and lead them,” Dube notes. “Furthermore, the best leaders are also the best communicators, especially when it comes to establishing expectations for each employee’s performance.”

Leadership also means being able to share bad news with employees. It is just about impossible to keep secrets today — so share as much as you can, and remember that your honesty will be appreciated and will encourage employees to help in finding solutions.

You can learn more about leadership, management and other small business skills at SCORE, a nonprofit organization of more than 12,000 volunteer business mentors who provide free confidential counseling and training. Contact Central Maine SCORE at 207-782-3708 or at lewistonauburnscore@gmail.com, or contact the Auburn Public Library for an appointment with a volunteer mentor. In Oxford Hills, call 207-743-0499; in Rumford and Mexico, call 207-364-3123. You may also contact SCORE at www.SCOREmaine.org.

This column is provided by the Central Maine SCORE chapter.

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