When you run your own business – and you’re not a large operation – the basics of success might seem simple.

Business booms when more people want to buy from you, existing customers want to stick with you, and your staff are happy to work for you.

But anyone who’s run a family-owned or small to medium enterprise will know that driving business success is a complicated matter. After all, it takes an investment of your time, effort and resource to grow the business, keep your employees engaged and build your brand and reputation.

Plus, the smaller your operation, the larger the effort, time and resource required to stay competitive in any market.

What if you’ve overlooked a highly valuable driver in achieving business growth, employee engagement and customer loyalty? Your leadership reputation. It’s no wonder that legends of the business world hold it in such high esteem. Warren Buffet identified it as an even higher priority than profits.

This principle applies just as strongly for small to medium enterprises. The difference is that it is you, as the owner and leader, whose reputation is the anchor for your business.

Think back to when you started your business. A large foundation for what it is today would have been because of your contacts who became your first clients. Your knowledge and expertise evolved into your current products and services. Your vision is the glue that formed your first team.

Your leadership reputation might have been instrumental in setting you up but why is it even more essential for running a successful business into the future?

Here are just three reasons:

1. Your leadership impacts how you attract new business

Reputation is sometimes misunderstood. It’s often thought to be the same as your brand. However, unlike your brand, your reputation is not something you create and then project. The public formulates reputation based on what they know about you.

Investing in your leadership reputation is a worthwhile venture. In fact, one study found that a good reputation can increase a customer’s intent to purchase from you by up to 6.3%.

The challenge for busy small business owners, however, is that you can be so consumed in the day-to-day tasks that you might neglect setting time aside to build on the elements that influence your reputation. Also, being the boss can sometimes mean there’s no one keeping you in check about your leadership skills.

Dr Travis Kemp, an organisational psychologist, independent company director and adjunct professor at the University of South Australia’s Business School, faced the same challenge. “Because I run my practice and lead organisations, there are very few people who I actually have to report to,” Kemp recalls.

But Kemp understood the importance of being accountable for proving to the public that he was a capable leader. So, he sought accreditation to benchmark his leadership standard. He needed to find a way to make his skills, “understandable and acknowledgeable by other people… An external validation and accountability for [his] experience.”

Strike a balance: While caring for your reputation as a leader is a must, finding the time can be difficult. That’s why accreditation is a great solution. Find a professional designation that doesn’t take away too much of your time from running the business but at the same time validates your skills, experience and expertise.

2. Your leadership impacts employee engagement

Starting a business is an exciting time of discovery. But as your business evolves, you and your staff will face new challenges. As a leader, your people will look to you for guidance and solutions when facing these issues.

That’s why it’s important for business owners like you to ensure your leadership skills are up to standard. If your staff can’t trust you to pull them through tough situations, then you can’t expect them to give their best at work. And when they fail to give their best, business performance suffers. Research by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Workplace Leadership found that many leaders fail to master fundamental leadership skills and unsurprisingly, more than 40% of Australian businesses do not meet their targets for return on investment and profitability.

Unsurprisingly, Kemp recommends investing in leadership skills. “I think leaders’ impact can be incredibly positive when it is directed in the right way, to the right people at the right time. Leadership has always been part of my life. I have been an active leader, I have grown companies, I have even started companies”.

Lead to engage: As a business owner, you’re not just managing products and services – you lead people too. So, seek out ways to benchmark your leadership skills up to the highest standards. You simply can’t afford to leave the wrong impression about your leadership with your employees.

3. Your leadership impacts customer loyalty

Can the reputation of just one person really affect the trust of customers? When one employee of United Airlines damaged their reputation by violently removing a passenger, the airline’s stock price lost $1.4 billion – investors simply lost trust. If that is true for the actions of one employee, all the more so for the actions of a business owner – regardless of business size.

While financial results matter for all businesses, there’s a lot more value in keeping loyal customers. It’s no secret that it costs more to acquire new customers. So, your trustworthiness as a leader and business owner is key.

Kemp observed how important it is to be a trusted leader. “We come back to the notion of ‘good people, doing good things’ and for the right reasons. Sometimes that gets lost in our pursuit for commercial gain,” said Kemp. But he adds, “It is important to raise the standard of leadership around the notion of ethics and values in decision making.”

Earn others’ trust: Once again Kemp looked toward an accreditation that displayed his commitment to sound leadership practice. Don’t keep your customers guessing. Show your trustworthiness by gaining the right leadership accreditation.

Great leadership helps your business to grow

Leaders with strong reputations carry their teams towards success, outshine the competition and reap financial rewards. If you want your reputation to be that of a leader who gets results, then you need to equip yourself with the accreditation that confirms it.

The Chartered Manager accreditation is the highest status that can be achieved as a manager and leader. It is awarded on experience, expertise and a commitment to management and leadership. The three-step application process involves just 12 hours and can be completed at your own pace – essential if you’re a time-poor business owner.

As a Chartered Manager – like Travis Kemp – you’ll ensure your leadership drives the success of your business.

In fact, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) in the UK, found that Chartered Managers:

  • Help businesses grow: One in three Chartered Managers have used their status as a competitive advantage, citing it in tenders to win new clients
  • Deliver engaging leadership: 62% of Chartered Managers said their designation improved their people management skills
  • Build client loyalty: Two out of five Chartered Managers maintained business turnover

To find out more about becoming a Chartered Manager visit managersandleaders.com.au/chartered-manager.


Insights from the Institute of Managers and Leaders