12/06/2013 07:42 pm ET | Updated Feb 05, 2014

Are You the "Fearless Leader" of Your Small Business?

When attending the Goldman Sachs 10KSB at Laguardia Community College, we were asked what kind of leader we were in our business. We were asked to identify our leadership styles: Authoritarian, Democratic, or Delegative. We could start with one of these three, and then expand. The likelihood of what style you are will depend upon your personality and already be determined before you even own your business. Of course, many of us are combinations who tend to lean heavily into one particular category. To try to be a style that is not consistent with your personality lacks authenticity and can lead to larger problems. But, you can borrow techniques from other styles and use them to improve the communications within your team. The important goal of self-assessment is to identify what your comfort zone and weaknesses are when leading your team. By learning more about your own personality and leadership styles, you will naturally become more aware of the other styles and the strengths and weaknesses that exist within them. By knowing your style, you may be able to craft a team to help you reach your vision instead of hiring a team that is in a constant state of friction. This may explain our fascination with all of the "leadership" books and seminars about becoming a better leader.

All leadership styles can be successful in growing a small business. A great leader uses a combination of all of the styles to achieve the vision set forth and to motivate a staff. Everyone responds differently to motivation. The key is communication, awareness and motivation. I firmly believe that all of this must be authentic and the idea of manipulation will lead to disaster. When someone realizes that they have been manipulated into a behavior or a result, you will lose their trust and respect. This is why you must be honest with yourself when identifying who you are as a leader and what styles you use naturally. Chances are, the people around you are pretty aware of your style and will take notice of your sophistication when you reach outside your zone in an attempt to communicate with more clarity. This is authenticity and leadership 101, to show that you can grow along side of your staff.

In understanding your own personality, you will become more aware of other personalities and be able to motivate more efficiently while allowing your team to work with more autonomy. This will free yourself to work on the bigger picture of growing your business. The ultimate goal of a leader is communication and motivation to reach the vision. This communication and vision breeds the culture for your brand. While we do need to communicate our big idea in small increments to our employees, it may be just as important share your vision with them so they understand that the decisions being made is with that same big idea in mind. Ultimately, our decisions upon the individuals we picked for our team and how we motivate them will be essential to reaching our goals. We will need to know when to borrow a style to motivate, or even when it is time to part ways with those who lack our vision. The time wasted on coddling a toxic employee is time best served growing your business.
So, we venture onward and upward to becoming the ultimate leader. Reading every book that exists, attending seminars and digging into our self-awareness to be the Fearless Leaders of our own small businesses.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.