Are leaders in SMEs keen on developing leadership skills?
I wonder if SME' leaders are keen on developing their leadership skills? I've been reading various SME reports to government and they say that people management skills are wanting in SME's, and SME leaders don't generally 'do' leadership development and are not keen. Is that right? (I admit I think it's nonsense, only this morning I was reading Sun Tzu...!) Perhaps we just do it differently?
Neil Steggall ,
Partner at Wardour Capital Partners
When one looks at the statistics available on Australia's 2.0 million SME's the one that always worries me the most is that 95%+ of SME's do not have a business plan. As savvySME members we mostly fit into the second largest SME category of "Professionals" which includes everything from the corner store consultant through to heart surgeons and as such we tend to think issues through in more detail than those in the other 6 categories and most of us think about business plans, leadership etc.
In answer to the question I do not believe most SME's consider leadership at all.
SME's employ 71.4% of the Australian work force, represent 99.7% of trading entities and have the highest level of female CEO's at 31.5% (compared with 3% in the corporate world) and yet the majority of SME's are lacking in core business skills and "flying blind" without a business plan.
Giving assistance, skills and education to SME operators is a way for the "Professional" category to make a game changing difference.
John Belchamber ,
Owner & Senior Consultant at Invoke Results
Management is about measuring how often people do what you say, leadership is where they've done it without you mentioning it. Many small business owners only see the need to be a manager... Small businesses often start with a 'technician' who makes money by being good at what they do and selling it. As they grow, they hire more 'technicians' to do what they have been doing so they can sell/deliver more. As they get more technicians, they start to employ 'administrators' to take some of the load of the technicians. Now the owner must becomes a manager not just a technician in order to make sure people are doing what they are supposed to. Many small business owners struggle to make the transition from technician to manager, but it's the next stage that (sadly) most small business owners never make... For a business to be successful in the long term it needs to be able to operate when the founder/owner/original technician isn't around - a good business is a successful system, usually with people operating that system. When this is happening well, you have created a business that is worth something to others (customers, suppliers, potential buyers/investors, the next generation of family etc.). BUT, for the business to become a system the owner needs to move from being a manager, to becoming a leader. The people and processes need to work without the owner being there....leadership make this happen. Hence., "leadership is where they've done it before you mentioned it". Small Business Owners will remain just, that without becoming Small Business Leaders and building a business with real value.
Hi Louise Here's a dumb but genuine question. What exactly is meant by the term 'leadership'? It's bandied about so much by politicians, media, big business etc. and I really don't understand why. My rule of thumb has always been that natural leaders emerge only out of crisis. It happens when a group of people start seeking someone to steer a path out of their current problem. Other than that specific situation, all we're often talking about is a steady hand on the rudder. If so, then it's simply good management and a skill which can be learned. So in answer, perhaps SMEs simply don't see a need? 'Leadership' is the solution to a problem that doesn't exist.