By Carol Tice, In more than 15 years of reporting on businesses large and small, She is proud CEO and Janitor of TiceWrites Inc., and blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing.
Trying to grow your business in this sluggish economy is a little like trying to swim through Jell-O. Ineffective or uncertain leaders definitely need not apply.
So what does it take to lead a small business through this ongoing economic mess? The blogosphere is humming with ideas lately. Here's a roundup of the important traits for entrepreneurs in 2012:
1. Listen. Tune in to what workers and customers are saying, and you'll find great ideas for how to move forward.
2. Give credit. Workers love leaders who acknowledge their ideas.
3. Be yourself. In our age of sound bites and phony smiles, tell your story honestly. It's rare and refreshing, and makes workers feel like they know you -- and want to help you succeed.
4. Communicate. So much company dysfunction can be prevented with clear communication. Otherwise, workers are in the dark. And soon, they won't care.
5. Don't be trendy. Avoid the "strategy du jour" problem. Choose a course and stick to it.
6. Beat anxiety. Stop worrying and turn your negative emotions -- regret, fear, sadness -- into teachers that help shape your character.
7. Be service-oriented. Leaders can be sort of self-involved, forgetting that they are in a position of leadership. To serve customers, shareholders and workers stay focused on others.
8. Be accountable. Define the results you want, and acknowledge when a screw-up is your fault.
9. Use empathy. Demographic changes have foisted more and more women into the workplace. Make sure your communication and leadership style is a fit for today's workforce.
10. Share the big picture. If your workers don't know the company's overall goals, it can be hard for them to solve problems. That leaves you having to micromanage every problem instead of being able to delegate and offer guidance.
11. Keep your cool. The days when being a screamer worked are long gone. If workers are worried about whether you're in a good mood today or not, little gets done.
12. Think like an immigrant. When you arrive on new shores, you often see the business world with fresh eyes. Use your unique perspective to spot opportunities others are missing.