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19 Leadership Philosophies To Grow Your Business

Why Personal Leadership is Important

What kinds of leadership can  make or break a company? As an owner of a small business it can be difficult to know, especially since you're constantly being pulled in numerous directions.

It's important to take the time to think about the kind of leader you want to be to your employees, your customers and your peers. Your actions as a leader reflect the direction and perception of your company and will help you become the best in your field. 

To find out how you can be the best leader you can be, we spoke to several small business owners in the service industry to see how they're dealing with this very issue. They shared with us some truths in how they approach leadership and empower their teams. Here’s what they said:

Be a Leader not a Boss. But what is a Leader? 

At NiceJob we avoid using the word “boss” or “manager” and instead call our managers “leaders” as their job is not to manage, rather to ensure we're staying aligned with our vision and mission as a good leader should do.

One of our core values is humble leadership: Not thinking less of ourselves, rather, thinking of ourselves less, while taking initiative. This was also a key trait among other entrepreneurs we spoke to. 

A boss is someone who always thinks he has the best idea. A leader is someone who asks others and looks and listens for others to get the best idea.

~ Ben Hilton, Founder, Fibra Inc.

“A leader works for their team. A boss makes their team work for them”

~ Jamie Bolin, Owner, City Water Conservation Inc

“A boss tells you what to do. A leader gives the tools to succeed”

~ Tim Sullivan, Owner, TKS Exterior Cleaning

Trust and respect were also key attributes of a leader versus a boss that came up when talking to other entrepreneurs. There are of course times when you need to take a firm stance but as Gabriel Gutierrez, Owner of Gabe’s Spotless Window Cleaning stipulates, the tough guy act won’t get you very far without respect. 

“Don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to put on a tough guy act to make your team do what needs to be done. Certainly, there are times when you may need to "lay down the law", but those times should be few and far between. Instead, earn their respect and they'll be willing to run through a wall for you, too.”

Stay focused on making your business grow

You may know best when it comes to running your business but it could suffer if you're overly tied up in the day-to-day tasks of the business.

Once you have built up your team you can focus on propelling your business forward. Empowering and trusting your team to help you with those invoices, customer follow ups and phone calls means that you can focus on staying ahead of the competition and avenues for growth. 

This doesn’t mean you shouldn't be getting your hands dirty every once in a while. As Erica Connor, Owner of Connor Window Cleaning put it: 

“A good leader needs to be humble. The ones who are being led need to believe that no task is beneath the leader. That they are always willing to help when needed”

Your customer also really appreciates when you, the owner, is directly or indirectly visible as part of their interaction with your business. This doesn’t have to mean being present on every job but it could mean posting some educational videos on your social media channel, following up with them after a job and personally responding to thank them when they leave you a review.

This will go a long way to you and your company being seen as a leader in your customers’ and potential customers’ eyes. Beyond your customer reviews, it helps to establish trust.

People Leadership: Build and Maintain a Strong Team

Part of the reason we’ve been able to grow NiceJob so fast is by hiring exceptional people to join our team who align with our vision and who are invested in the growth of the company (read about our hiring strategy here).

You need to be able to trust your employees to take care of the day to day running of the business and empower them to be creative and run with their ideas whether they succeed or not. No business has ever succeeded without failures along the way. These entrepreneurs say it best: 

“Surround yourself with hard working, positive people who share your vision”

~ Cathy Marsh, Director of Marketing, E.W. Tompkins Plumbing Heating, Cooling

“A strong leader is someone that can teach others to lead. You have to let your team grow or they will not succeed. This means letting them fail as well as win.”

~ Tim Sullivan, Owner, TKS Exterior Cleaning

“Constantly show team members why they’re important while also having the self-awareness to show them why you’re the leader”

~ Jamie Bolin, Owner, City Water Conservation Inc. 

A good leader is also one that makes sure that their employees understand the projects they are working on and also why the work they are doing  is important in the wider context of business growth. 

“If employees lack an understanding of their role or it's importance in any project, they will never work to the best of their capabilities.”

~ Gabriel Gutierrez, Owner, Gabes Spotless Window Cleaning

By building your business with employees who are aligned to your vision and business growth, while ensuring they understand the importance of their role, you are creating advocates. They will show your business in the best possible light to customers and leads. Remember, it’ll be difficult to have happy customers without happy employees.

How to Develop as a Leader

Whether it’s reading blog posts from fellow entrepreneurs, listening to business podcasts, or simply learning from day-to-day examples of leadership, there is always something to learn and to implement from other leaders. As Ben Hilton, Founder of Fibra Inc. put it: 

“You can’t learn it all on your own in one lifetime. Read about self help, self development, other entrepreneurs, successful businesses and even unsuccessful business stories to hear what went wrong and to learn what you can do to prevent those pitfalls”

In light of this we asked home service entrepreneurs to share an example of where they have come across strong leadership in their lives:

“I had an employer when I was 18 who always said thank you to us - just for doing our job. She jumped in to help (it was a cafe) when I things got extra busy. I’ve always wanted to emulate her example of making others feel needed and part of the team.”

~ Erica Connor, Owner, Connor Window Cleaning

“Someone I know helped an employee who dreamed of a different career even though losing him was going to hurt his business”

~ Tim Sullivan, Owner, TKS Exterior Cleaning

“When I worked at a bank years ago, I had a manger named Frank who was wonderful. He was very firm but we knew he cared about us. One time, a customer chewed out a fellow teller for no good reason. I wanted to defend her, but I knew it wasn't my place to say anything as the "customer is always right". Just when it was getting to it's worst, Frank came out to see what was going on. The customer was happy because she thought she was going to get her way. Instead, he closed out her account, handed her her money, and told her that anyone who feels it's ok to verbally abuse his tellers was not welcome in his bank. Needless to say, that act of loyalty to us was never forgotten. After that, all of us would run through a wall for him. I still keep in touch with him from time to time and the fact that he roots for the success of my business shows the type of person he is. He is my model of how a leader should act.”

~ Gabriel Gutierrez, Owner, Gabe’s Spotless Cleaning

“Tom Brady in the Super Bowl against the Falcons. Might seem strange but the way he handled a tough situation showed how strong his leadership was able to impact the minds of others on his team. I’ve learned to apply that same mentality in business”

~ Jamie Bolin, Owner, City Water Conservation Inc

“We have a guy in our neighborhood that has stepped up to address concerns about a development coming in next to us. Without prompting, he’s brought in the neighborhood for a couple of meetings, talked with an attorney and gotten our neighborhood to bind together so we can have 1 voice displaying our concerns.”

~ Ben Hilton, Founder, Fibra Inc. 

“My current boss acted on a set of suggestions we made to grow the business. We then grew the business!”

~ Cathy Marsh, Marketing Director, E.W. Tompkins Plumbing Heating Cooling

What is your Leadership Style? 

While there are lot of approaches to leadership, ultimately you need to find your own style. What works for you may not work for others. The first step is consciously taking steps to improve. 

When it comes to being seen as a leader, however, it all comes down to is reputation. If you want to be seen as a leader in your field, ultimately you need 3 things: happy customers (and great reviews), happy employees, and a brand that reflects the great work you do. Your website should reflect this.

Here at NiceJob we help people get the reputation they deserve. So, if you’re interested in learning more, check out the following related articles on how you can build (or how we’d build for you) a great website, get more reviews, and have happier employees. All to showcase your reputation and position you as a leader in your field.

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