If your employees were to be asked to describe you what are they likely to say?

I got interested recently when I eavesdropped on two women discussing their bosses in a restaurant. One description caught my attention: sadist, mean and selfish who can do anything for money.

From the way she talked I could tell she was not happy or proud to be working wherever she worked. She was simply there to earn a living as she looked for greener pastures.

With such employees, one does not need anything else to fail in business.

Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you employees are the most important determiner of success in business after the product itself.

No one can succeed in business alone. You need cooperation of your employees to serve and relate well with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

An entrepreneur is just a leader who creates an enterprise or conceives a vision of the future, gathers people and motivates or inspires them to engage with that vision.

It is said that business rises or falls on leadership.

Fortunately leaders are made, not born. As a business owners you may not be knowledgeable and competent in one or more of the core areas such as production, administration, finance management, sales and marketing.

However, if you have ability to gather competent people, organise them as a team and lead them well, you are home and dry.

There are three important areas that define leadership and ability to influence your employees to feel part of your vision.

First is personal integrity. This has to do with how you treat other people including your family, friends, business associates and government agencies.

If for instance you cheat your suppliers and law enforcement officers, you will never influence your employees positively.

Secondly, your financial discipline and perception. Meeting your financial obligations, planning well and being fair to your customers, suppliers and employees are indicators of financial integrity.

Your employees are stakeholders in your business and must see their future in it.

Their remuneration should be commensurate with what they do and how productive the business is.

Thirdly, let your word be a bond. Keep all your commitment especially to your employees.

If you promise them something such as better terms when conditions improve, ensure you keep it. Don’t give them unachievable targets or unrealistic promises.

Avoid words or actions that may be construed to mean you value your customers or money more than them. Create a win-win environment without insinuating that they need you more than you need them.

This article was first published in the Business Daily on June 26, 2017.

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