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Dr. Ron Barnes, Ed.D., retired Prescott College professor and founder of Prescott Area Leadership, stresses the importance of “servant leadership”. In his book, Lessons for Leaders, he explains that in order to lead successfully, you must first learn to serve.

As a small business owner, this is especially important. Regardless if your small business has only one or 100 employees, your leadership skills can mean the difference between failure and success.

In Lessons for Leaders, Dr. Barnes states that, “... the better you are as a person, the better leader you will become.”

This philosophy is carried out by SCORE mentor and small business owner Josh King, who echoes Barnes, “I have never been the type of person who has tried to go out of my way to lead. Instead, I’ve just tried to serve others. And when people feel that you truly care for them, they're much more willing to follow you.

“In essence, it’s servant leadership. I don’t think you’re going to successfully lead in any other way. Otherwise, you’re just a dictator.”

If your goal is to become a strong, effective leader in your business, consider concentrating on and developing these key qualities:

Accountability – Take responsibility for your actions—and your lack of actions. Demonstrating that you hold yourself accountable will help foster a company culture of caring about results and striving to do the best job possible.

Focus On Goals – If you don’t have a target, you won’t know where to aim your efforts and energy. Having clear goals and objectives will help keep you and your employees focused on working toward growth and success.

Objectivity – Leadership requires an ability and willingness to look at your business objectively. You need to acknowledge and address what needs to be improved or changed to overcome challenges and move toward your goals.

Willingness To Delegate – Although it may be difficult to let go of certain responsibilities as a small business owner, it’s essential when you don’t have the time—or the skills—to perform certain tasks. Delegating work to others who can do it more efficiently and effectively can help you give more time to focus on strategizing and growing your business.

Communication – As a leader, what you say or write and how you say or write it can either facilitate unity and understanding or it can create confusion and frustration. Strong leaders communicate clearly and consistently so their employees have the information, direction, and feedback they need to perform to their potential.

“Wholeheartedly serving your team is the only way to continue to provide value and cultivate relationships,” King explains.

For further insight and guidance about being a successful servant leader, Dr. Barnes’ book, Lessons for Leaders: And those who aspire to be is available through To become a successful leader and for all other aspects of starting, managing, and growing a small business, reach out to your Northern Arizona SCORE mentor.

If you don’t have a SCORE mentor or are looking for effective business advice call 928-778-7438, email or go to Ginni Trask Comstock is a graduate of Class XIX of Prescott Area Leadership.


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