Become a Better Leader in Four Simple Steps Jonathan Herrick The day you expand your business from an army of one to a team can be a peak experience as an entrepreneur. Expanding your business is a fantastic opportunity to sharpen your leadership skills. The more you can keep improving at motivating and inspiring others to do their best work, the more of an edge you’ll have in today’s business environment. Only 30% of U.S. workers are fully engaged at work, according to Gallup—and that’s often because of how they’re being led, the polling organization has found. Fortunately, there are many interesting ways to strengthen your leadership skills. Try these approaches. Take a personality test. Understanding your unique personal style can help you make the most of your innate talents as a leader and improve in areas where you’re not as confident. Taking the free DiSC personality test can give you interesting insight. This behavioral assessment evaluates test takers based on the qualities of dominance, influence, compliance and steadiness. As you’ll find if you take the test, scoring high in each trait comes with negatives and positives. For instance, someone who scores high on dominance is motivated by winning, competition and success—good qualities to have when you’re building a business—but may show a lack of concern for others, impatience or open skepticism. While no test is perfect, the insights you get will help you self-assess and focus on the areas where you have the most room for growth. Shed command-and-control thinking. By thinking of yourself as a high-performance coach you’ll have an edge in today’s workplace, advised Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, in a recent blog. That’s especially true if you employ younger workers who aren’t accustomed to the hierarchical style of leadership that many companies embraced in the pre-digital era. As Clifton points out, younger workers are eager to develop their talents and have ongoing conversations that help them get better, rather than the traditional performance reviews previous generations have come to expect. Millennial workers also like their bosses to play to their strengths, not continually try to help them shore up perceived weaknesses. And they don’t like formalities. “Most millennials are coming to work with great enthusiasm, but the old management practices — forms, gaps and annual reviews — grinds the life out of them,” Clifton wrote. Avoid wearing your team down and you’ll find yourself far ahead of competitors who are stuck in the past. If you’re looking for a book to help you adopt a more collaborative leadership style, check out retired General Stanley McChrystal’s book Team of Teams. He shows how he moved from the traditional command-and-control approach to a leadership style where decentralized teams had decision-making authority as his Army troops fought Al-Qaeda in Iraq. If a leader like General McChrystal can break free from the command-and-control model, anyone can. Go back to school—on your own terms. As the workplace becomes more digital, management practices are evolving, too. Many entrepreneurs wish they could go back to school, but that’s hard to afford when you’re also investing in building a business. Instead of giving up on taking management classes, check out edX, a nonprofit site that free courses from top universities that you can take online. Among the options: MITx’s “Becoming an Entrepreneur,” University of Queensland’s “Becoming an Effective Leader” and BUx’s “Digital Leadership.” Many of the classes are self-paced, making them ideal for busy entrepreneurs. Find a support network. Sometimes, the best way to grow as a leader is to learn from other entrepreneurs. Fortunately, there are thousands of Meetups taking place around the world for people interested in leadership and entrepreneurship. Check out the Meetup website to see which ones are taking place in your area. If your business is generating six-figure revenue, consider applying for a group such as Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Accelerator. It is designed to help business owners with $250,000 to $1 million in revenue grow past $1 million in revenue. EO provides a curriculum focused on how to address key decisions that all leaders face, regarding people, strategy, execution and cash. Participants are also connected with small “accountability groups” of peers to help them stay on track with their goals. EO is one of many groups for entrepreneurs that can be a great source of support, so check out the options in your area to find one that’s a good fit. Being a great leader doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Fellow entrepreneurs can be amazing guides.