An Important Leadership Lesson

The need to effectively manage others becomes increasingly important as our businesses start to blossom, yet it’s often difficult to balance your position as leader, teacher and every other hat you have to wear as an entrepreneur.

Indeed, some business owners consider undertaking an online masters of education in order to feel confident and competent enough to train their staff and lead their team by equipping them with the right knowledge and strategy to go out and deliver, yet this often isn’t necessary.

This article offers two important leadership lessons for small business owners, and encourages you to quickly learn new employees motivational style in order to manage them effectively.


There is of course a fine line between being a leader and being a dictator.  It’s important to remember that whilst you are the leader of the company your role is more that of a director, in that it is directional rather than dictatorial.

Nobody likes being dictated to, and few people actually enjoy or respond well to being directed unless they have complete confidence in your decisions and leadership skills.  It can therefore be a psychological minefield to get this balancing act right.

The best approach is to remember that you are the captain of the ship, and that captain’s unapologetically give orders to their crew.  Now, in a business context, it’s of course much more important to be civil and respectful, than the captain of a ship, but it’s equally important you take the wheel and lead this project to its final destination.


You may have heard of the metaphor with regard to the carrot and the stick which describes the polar forces of motivation theory.

In psychology there are two broad groups of people; they are known as “toward” and “away from” people.  This means that some people prioritise moving toward pleasure whilst others prioritise getting away from pain.  Of course, most people have a mixture of both, but there is normally one predominant force that motivates a person to take action.

The person that is motivated toward pleasure tends to be the more committed and advancement focused employee, whereas the person motivated away from pain, tends to be the type of person that will do what it takes to keep their job and not all that much more.

You want to get to know your team and see what motivates each team member; is it the possibility of praise and reward or is it the fear of loss, such as missing out on a staff incentive or even losing their job?

By applying both of these psychological forces, in your leadership style means you will be able to manage most people effectively.

The carrot could, for instance, be a cash incentive, public recognition, or simply some one-to-one verbal praise for doing a good job.  The stick, meanwhile, could be the fear of dismissal or having a penalty imposed such as having to stay late at the office in order to get things finished.

If you think back to school, there were gold stars (to acknowledge good behaviour) and detentions (to acknowledge bad behaviour).  Some people would be motivated toward getting a gold star whilst others would be motivated by staying out of trouble.  The same remains true in modern business leadership.

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