Being a good leader comes naturally to some, while for others, it is a learned skill. But no matter who you are or which category you fit into, there’s always room for improvement. If you want to improve your leadership skills, here are 8 ways you can start. \tBe Accountable Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, from the top all the way down, but it’s how these mistakes are handled that matters. If you as the leader make a mistake but are full of excuses or try to blame it on someone or something else, what does that say to your employees? Remember, you are the leader and you are the one setting the example and the precedent for your employees. If you never take responsibility for your actions, why should your employees? \tMake Your Employees Feel Valued No one wants to go to work and feel like just another number who doesn’t really matter to the company. It takes an entire team to accomplish certain goals and without even one of your team members, those goals will be far more difficult to attain in a timely manner. Take the time to recognize a job well done whether through recognition during a team meeting, small gestures of appreciation such as a gift card, or any other way that would be applicable to your small business. \tGive Credit Where Credit is Due Say one of your employees comes up with a fantastic idea to improve your small business operations and the idea is actually implemented with great success. When someone asks how you were able to accomplish that, will you give credit to the employee whose idea it was, or will you fail to mention his or her name? It is in your company’s best interest to make sure everyone gets credit for their efforts because without this crucial piece, you will lose all great ideas from your team members. \tBe Specific There’s nothing worse than being told to do a particular project but having absolutely no direction on how to execute the project. If you aren’t specific, you will spend more time correcting the employee’s attempts than you would just taking the time to lay out exactly what you want to happen from the very beginning. Not only that, but in taking the time to explain your vision, your employee will in turn feel more valued that you spent time laying it out. \tTrust Your Employees There’s a great quote by Tina Fey that exemplifies this concept perfectly: “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” No one likes to be micromanaged every minute of the day. If you hire someone to fill a role based on their skills and previous experience, trust that they know what to do and how to elevate your small business to the next level. \tBe Flexible Your small business is very important and while it is perfectly acceptable to expect your team to care deeply about your business and its success, it’s also important to remember that they have a life outside of work. In fact, allowing a little flexibility with your employees’ schedules could actually save you more in the long run. According to a Forbes article, 43% would choose flexibility over a pay raise. So make sure you loosen the reins a bit and let your employees breathe every now and then. \tHave Compassion One thing that seems so small but can actually have huge results is having compassion. If an employee comes to you with an issue, even if the task seems so simple to you, it clearly is more difficult for them, which is why they’re asking you for guidance. If you are dismissive of their plight and just tell them how easy it should be and to work harder, they will be far less likely to talk to you about future issues. However, even if all you do is validate that the task at hand can be difficult, they will feel like someone understands them and will be more likely to approach you when a more serious issue arises. \tGet to Know Your Employees How well do you know each of your team members? Do you have regular one-on-one meetings with them and get to know them on an individual level? Or is the only time you meet with them to reprimand them or give them a new project? If you’re not meeting with each team member on a regular basis, you run the risk of them fearing you rather than respecting you, and that is not a healthy environment to foster. You might be surprised at what you find out by getting to know them on a personal level. If you want to be a good leader, developing or improving upon these skills is a great start. Collaborate with other leaders on what they have found works for them, do a self-evaluation of yourself, find methods that work for you, and keep working to be that leader you’ve always wanted to be.