Leadership for small organizations

March 20, 2014


Opinions are divided about small business leadership. Some say that small businesses don’t need a leader; they need a manager, a go-getter. Others have the view that all organizations, including small businesses and community organizations, need a leader as the ship’s captain.

I am a believer of the latter. Whether you are a start-up, or a more established small business or community organization, you will benefit from having a vision and a plan on reaching that vision.

A leader attracts clients, partners and employees because a leader is communicating the vision, building the organization and taking charge.

A leader has a vision

All organizations in all stages need direction and a leader provides this with a clear vision. It provides the framework to planning business actions such as closing the deal with the right client and hiring employees.

A vision aims to answer the question “where do we aim to be?” A concise statement is not as easily created as it sounds like, which is why strategic planning consultants have developed exercises for this. This vision ties in with a mission statement about the values of the organization, its stakeholders and the main objectives.

Leaders plan and don’t delay decisions

Together, the vision and mission guides the strategic and operational planning processes. No matter how formal or informal you plan, a framework supports proactive leadership. Think in terms of developing new ideas, responding to potential crises, seeking out opportunities and adapting the plan when needed.

Leaders are often portrayed as charming and outgoing people, without too much attention to their planning side. And more than that, a leader has to be able to make decisions swiftly and stand behind them.

When “what if scenario” are worked out in the planning phase it is a lot easier to make informed decision in a quarter of the time it would take if developing crisis was not thought of and planned for.

Communication is central to leadership

Growing a small business or community organization requires you to enlist employees, subcontractors, partners and other stakeholders at some stage. For that to happen, leaders have to communicate and share their vision and their plan. Only then, can a leader inspire people to join him or her.

An important way of communicating, that is (sadly) often forgotten, is leading by example. If you’d ask someone who inspired them and why, I bet the answers enlist leaders that are known for something they did.

Bring leadership elements together and take charge

Planning, envisioning, inspiring others – it is not enough if you cannot take effective decisions and follow up on them. Be clear and explain these decisions so that people connected to your organization (your stakeholders) understand them.

One tip to help you make decisions has already been mentioned, create “what if scenarios”. Another tip is to embrace curiosity. Curiosity is partially satisfied by taking stock measuring where the organization is at in order to learn what can be improved, reduce and avoid mistakes.


Lisette Andreyko

Lisette is the founder of Kaleidoscope and is passionate about start-up leadership, personal growth and women in business (and psst.. about tea!). She enjoys connecting with small businesses through her network. You can find her on LinkedIn.