Your growth goals will impact you, your business and your team. So as you prepare to grow your business, you’ll want to share your goals with others. Who will need to know your plans? This is likely to be your stakeholders and your team. One of your goals might even be to build a team, or you may have people working for you already.

Your team will need to know what your plans are. Plus, you’ll need them to help you reach these goals. So a large part of your role will be to lead your team through this period of change.

In this lesson, you’ll explore key leadership skills to help you do this. We’ll share tips on how to guide, support and inspire your team. We’ve also got suggestions on how to deal with the different reactions you may face. Plus, you’ll see how to check the skills that you and your team need, to meet your growth goals.

KEY LEARNINGS

  • Share your growth goals with your team and your stakeholders

  • Learn techniques to lead your team through change

  • Identify skills gaps and have a clear plan to meet these

Read time:

14 mins

Chapter 1

Communicate your growth plans

Read time:

3 mins

Share your vision

You have clear goals for where you want your business to be. No one else has the same connection as you. You want others to know these goals and how to reach them.

 

You’ll want to share your plans with:

  • Your team – If you have one
  • People who supply or sell your products or services – They could help you grow in the way you want
  • Others who work with you – Like your web designer, marketing agency or other experts
  • Your board and any investors – You’ll want them to support your goals

 

They’re all likely to want to know the reasons behind your plans.
So, think about how to present these in a compelling way. Your aim is to inspire others so they’re as excited about your plans as you are.

Note

In this chapter, we talk about your team. You may not have or plan to build a team at this stage. You’re likely to have others who will be helping you grow your business, though. So think of these people as you read this, to see how it applies to them.

Share your goals clearly, to:

  • Drive change
  • Inspire your team
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Improve productivity
  • Address concerns early on
  • Achieve consistency in your team’s approach

 

So how do you start to do this?

Before you talk with others, take time to think about your approach. You may be very excited about your growth plans and want to share your ideas. How can you do this in a clear and appealing way? Think about the key message you want to send. Are you rallying them to action? Reassuring them? Asking them to do more or different tasks?

Think about your team and how they might respond. You’ll need to allow them time to absorb the changes they face. Be mindful of their emotions and how they might react. Even if they’re on board straight away, they may have worries about what this means to them. For instance, you may be planning a move to larger premises. Will this mean they need to travel further? This could affect their lives outside the workplace.

Encourage people to share their concerns and ask questions. Check for understanding by asking open-ended questions. This way, you’ll learn where they need support and motivation.

 

Questions your team may have:

  • Why do we need this change?
  • How will it affect me?
  • What does it look like?
  • What do you expect from me?

 

Do you know the answers to these questions? If you do, you can think about how to respond in a way that works for your team. Maybe you can’t give them the clarity they need right now. If that’s the case, be honest. It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’ or that it may change.

The important thing is to keep the conversation going. This will help your team adjust, and encourage them to be part of the growth process.

 

Top tips to share your plans:

  • Think through your growth plan first – This will help you guide others through the change
  • Make your goals and aims clear and easy to understand
  • Break down these goals into team or individual goals
  • Work with your team – Agree roles and responsibilities
  • Give them a voice – Encourage everyone to express their views and ideas
  • Be honest and sincere
  • Stay in touch – Have regular check-ins and updates

 

Keep talking – and listening

As you move the business forward, keep sharing your ideas and updates. Encourage an open two-way conversation. This helps to support your team to express their concerns and make suggestions.

Note

Communication doesn’t end when you reach those growth goals. Celebrate success with your team! Give them the chance to reflect on their experience and share their thoughts and ideas on future plans.

Chapter 2

Build skills to lead

Read time:

5 mins

What leadership skills do you need?

As a business owner, leadership comes with the job. What you say and do influences those who work with you, every day. You want to get this right, but there isn’t just one ‘right way’ to lead.

There are many different leadership styles, but what works for someone else may not be right for you. The skills you need will depend on you, your business and the people who work for you. The goal is to strike a balance between informing, persuading and engaging others.

To start, look at what you want to achieve. The way you lead should align to your overall vision and growth goals. Keep this in mind as you work through our list of common leadership skills.

If you're looking to gain more leadership skills, supported by Skillsoft Percipio, we have extended our business offering by giving you free and exclusive access to a collection of their business and leadership training.

With hundreds of courses and learning paths to choose from, this offers you the chance to learn a broad range of business skills from product management to productivity and collaboration. To start your learning and boost your leadership skills, sign up on Skillsoft’s website today.

 

Be honest and open

Truthful and sincere communication helps to build trust. Own your mistakes. Acknowledge everyone’s contribution to successes. All these things show that you lead with integrity. When people see this, they’re more likely to trust you’re going to do the right thing for the business - and for them.

Above all else, the good leader needs integrity

Dwight D. Eisenhower (PDF, 719KB)

Delegate and empower

Recognise each person’s skills and strengths, and let them use these to help you reach your goals. Support and encourage your team to grow and prove their skills. When challenges arise, listen to their ideas and solutions.

The key to good delegation is giving each task to the most suitable person for it. Trust them to own the task and praise them for a job well done. When things don’t go to plan, be their mentor. Give expert advice to guide them towards better outcomes.

If you do this, your team will see that you trust them to take responsibility. This will help to reduce your own task list, too.

 

Delegation, step by step

  1. Decide what to delegate – Not every task will be suitable, so look at the tasks and see what you can give to others
  2. Assess your team’s strengths – Some in your team may be creative. Others may have technical skills. Match tasks to their skills and preferences to motivate them and help them succeed
  3. Explain the result you expect – Let people know what the result should look like and what you expect from them
  4. Give them what they need to do the job – This could be tools, training or other resources
  5. Let them control the task – Give your team the freedom to manage their work. Just remember to check in regularly and make sure they know that you’re there if they need you
  6. Be patient – Give your team the time to learn and explore. This helps them do a good job. It will help you too, as they become quicker and more efficient
  7. Encourage and give feedback – Let people know how they’re doing. Done in a positive and encouraging way, this helps them perform to their best ability. Give thanks for tasks taken on. Appreciate and give feedback for jobs well done and areas for improvement. This gives clear direction and helps motivate

As we look ahead into the next century, 'leaders will be who empower others'.

Bill Gates

See the big picture

Know that you and your business will experience ups and downs. Focus on your end goal and don’t let small everyday issues distract you. You’ll need to handle issues flexibly. Sometimes this involves reaching a compromise with others.

For each decision you make, ask: will this help to achieve my overall goals for the business? If the answer is yes, it’s likely to be a good choice. If not, you may need to think carefully about whether it fits in with your plans for growth.

Keep in mind what you want to achieve

For everyone to work together to achieve your growth goals.

Role-model

When others see you living by your business’ values, it can inspire them to do the same.

For example, if you show confidence in tackling issues, they’ll start to do the same. Your team looks to you to guide them through the highs and lows of the growth process.

 

Show commitment

Let your team see that you’re working with them, through all the highs and lows. Celebrate together. Be willing to help out to get the job done. Make it clear that you see yourself as part of the team, not separate to it. Doing this can help you earn their respect.

 

Get creative

Use creative approaches and encourage your team to do this too, to meet challenges and achieve goals in ways that are different to your competitors.

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Albert Einstein

Learn and grow

Having a growth mindset is key to becoming a good leader. If you’re endlessly curious, this is a good sign. So keep learning.

Bear in mind that your leadership skills will develop over time. 
Take situational awareness. A good leader is able to foresee potential issues and handle them before they arise. They can see opportunities that others may miss.

Sometimes it’s only after a particular setback that we can see how we could have achieved a different outcome. So it’s important to keep reviewing your approach and adapt it where you need to.

Test your knowledge

Answer this question by selecting one answer from the three options provided.

That's not quite right!

Hint: It can be tricky finding the right level of control. You want to give the task to the right person. Then you want to support them, while letting them control the task.

That's right!

The best person for the job might be you or someone else. It all depends on what the job is and who is best at it.

Chapter 3

Find support and guidance

Read time:

4 mins

You’re not on your own

Hopefully, these have given you some ideas on how to lead your team as you grow your business. You may find some are easier to adopt than others. Note the ones you need to work on. Being self-aware and knowing your own strengths and weaknesses will help you become a good leader.

It may seem rather lonely being a leader, though. Others look to you for guidance. So where can you find this, too?

The good news is that there are plenty of people who can help.

Support networks

Mentors

Business consultants

Virtual assistants

Support networks

It’s good to build a support network, as you grow into your role as leader. You may already have one, that you can extend to meet your changing needs as your business grows. These networks can be a mix of online and face-to-face contacts.

 

Your network could include:

 

Mentors

If you need support that’s more personal to you and your business, a mentor might be the answer. They can help you learn more about yourself and your goals.

 

Mentors can:

  • Share knowledge and experience – This can be invaluable if you’re struggling with a new or tricky challenge
  • Expand your outlook – They may help you look outside the ideas you already have, and inspire creativity
  • Show opportunities – They’re likely to have a wide network of contacts to tap into

 

When looking for a mentor, pick someone you can trust. They should be open with you and give you useful feedback.

Look at people who have leadership experience. Who do you respect? It could be someone you know who motivates you and can push you to grow. Maybe it’s a local business owner with a good reputation. You may want to research influencers or experts online. If you have a few people in mind, think about how close you feel to this person. You’ll need to feel at ease talking to them.

Whoever you pick, meet them with an open mind and be willing to learn from them.

 

Business consultants

As you grow your business, you’re likely to be busier than ever. Business consultants can share the load by giving expert help.

 

They can:

  • Find potential issues – They may spot these early so you can deal with them
  • See opportunities – They’re aware of market trends and have wide networks to help
  • Check you’re compliant – Legal consultants can do this and tell you about any changes you need to make
  • Improve your finances – This could include cost-saving ideas and solutions

 

Usually, you’d hire one for a short or fixed period of time. They can help with one or more aspects of your business. Some are experts in a particular area, like Human Resources or IT. They tend to work by spending time with you to see how you run your business and to learn your plans for growth. Then they’ll come up with ideas and solutions to help you grow.

To find someone who meets your needs, speak to others in your sector. They may have recommendations. You could also check online reviews.

When you meet them for the first time, ask questions to check they are right for your needs. They’ll be working for you, so it’s important to set expectations up front. Agree rates, what you want from them and timescales. Tell them your growth goals, and how you’d like them to help you reach these.

 

Virtual assistants

When you run a business, there’s so much admin to do. It’s tempting to save costs by doing this yourself. As your business grows, you may find yourself bogged down in these day-to-day tasks. They might even be stopping you from moving forward as quickly as you want. If this is you, virtual assistants can be a good source of help.

Virtual assistants are there to ease your workload. They can take on some of the more mundane jobs so you’re able to focus on your growth plans. Some specialise in certain tasks. This can be a low-cost way to improve efficiency.

 

They can:

  • Field phone calls and send emails
  • Plan meetings, travel and events
  • Manage your calendar
  • Follow up on sales leads
  • Manage social media and blog posts
  • Update documents and web content
  • Run reports and keep records
  • Send and follow up invoices
  • Process payments

 

You can find virtual assistants directly or through a marketplace like Upwork or TaskRabbit. Costs will vary, depending on the service you need and how much demand there is. It’s always good to ask around for recommendations.

When you find someone you think meets your needs, look at their earlier work and vet them carefully. Agree their rates, what you expect for this, and timescales. Be aware that some will be overseas. This means they may not be around in your own working hours. So plan your meetings with them at a time that works for you both.

Stay safe

If you hire someone to do work for you, they may see personal or business details. Make sure they don’t share this information with others. You could include wording in your contract to do this or add a non-disclosure agreement.

Chapter 4

Prepare to grow

Read time:

2 mins

Build your skills

Whether you’re a sole trader or have a large team, you’ll need certain skills to grow. These will depend on what your plans for growth are. If you have others working with you, they’ll need to build their skills too. You may already have a few ideas about this. Maybe you’ve started to note down tools to learn or articles to read.

This chapter shows you how to work out what skills you and your team need. We’ll start, though, with the skills you already have.

 

Complete a skills audit

Listing the skills you and your team have is a good starting point. Focus on the skills you’ll need to achieve your growth goals. This will help you delegate tasks and identify any areas where there are gaps.

There are many ways to do this. We’re suggesting you start with a skills matrix and carry out a gap analysis.

 

Step 1 – Create a skills matrix

You can use a spreadsheet or do this on paper. This is a table with a list of skills across the top and names of your team down the left side. For each person, note the skill level for each of these skills. Keep this simple. Something like 0-3 where 0 is ‘no knowledge’ and 3 is ‘expert’.

Try it out

Use the template in your workbook to complete a skills matrix for you and your team. There’s more space at the back of the book if you need it. If you prefer, use a spreadsheet.

Step 2 – Skills gap analysis

Now you have a list of skills and can see who has these. It’s a good idea to check you’ve listed all the skills you need. Maybe review your growth goals and methods with someone else. A second pair of eyes can be really helpful here.

Once you’re happy that you’ve captured everything, look for the skills gaps. What tools or areas do you have no or little knowledge on? These are where you’ll need to learn. This could be a training course, online tutorial or speaking with an expert.

Try it out

Use the space in your workbook to note down your skills gap notes. Start with a list of areas where you need to upskill. Jot down any ideas you have on how to meet your skills needs.

 

Lloyds Bank Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Lloyds Bank does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 9th June 2023.