Business Advice

Five steps to great leadership – even if you’ve never led a team before

- March 14, 2022 3 MIN READ
Cafe owner training new employee

As a small business owner or budding executive, you may never have imagined that you’d one day be successful enough to lead a team of staff to keep your business dreams alive. But with that power comes the responsibility to be a good leader, writes Mike Irving, founder of Advanced Business Abilities.

Great leadership can allow your business to grow quickly. Poor leadership will restrict a business or worse – bury it.

Follow these five steps to be a great leader of a successful business

work team meeting in office

1. Empathy

Good leaders have an ability to understand how a team member is feeling and act accordingly. They regularly observe and are aware of things like facial expressions, body language and other non-verbal indicators of their team, and they make decisions that are best for the team in that moment.

This is the skill of empathy. As a leader, it will create a positive impact on the overall workplace, lifting morale and staff productivity. Empathy is learned through practice, so keep listening and communicating with your staff.


2. Decision making

The most important function of any leader is to make decisions, and the growth of a business is determined by those decisions. Understand there is no such thing as a ‘right’ decision, rather a decision that will produce the results you are chasing.

A great decision maker will consider the consequences of each option before making a choice. The key skill here is being able to think clearly and analyse all the data; including intuitive and energetic data – how it feels is just as important as how the numbers stack up.

3. Communication

This is the biggest single factor that determines success or failure in a leader.

The challenge in this is that every leader considers themselves to be a good communicator. This is dangerous because it can lead to not paying attention to the skill. The competitors in the Tour de France still train every day.


Great leaders do well to take the same approach when it comes to the skills of leadership – practice and practice often. Get professional feedback and facilitation to assist.

Ineffective communication can bring a team unstuck in a moment, and it’s often not given enough attention.

4. Team building

The success of a business is determined by the quality of the team working there.

That’s why it’s so important to manage relationships existing within a team to ensure everyone feels as though they belong, they have a voice and are being heard. If a staff member is feeling irrelevant, it will lead to discord and others may start to feel the same.

The workplace is not only a place where a job is carried out, it is also a place where special relationships are formed and successes shared. A team does not compete with each other – they support each other and are ‘givers’ rather than ‘takers’. Hire people with a ‘giver’ attitude and strong empathy skills to improve the chances of success.

5. Respect

This is not automatically received once you’re appointed leader, or given a title. Respect is earned through your actions and the relationships you build with your team.

It is about being authentic. Be interested in the business, in all parts of it. Get to know your team outside of work, as well as in their roles. Be open to their ideas and give them your time to discuss and support them.

The great thing about showing respect to your team members’ input and ideas, is that you’ll receive the same back.


This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for 2022.

Want more? Get our newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! Follow Kochie’s Business Builders on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Now read this: 

How to increase workplace wellbeing in four easy to follow steps

Popular in the network