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Six Traits Every SME Leader Should Have

Having a great leader is crucial to the success of a business. In fact, positive leadership has been proven to improve employee engagement, especially in Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which helps the company achieve its goals. A good leader also cultivates a positive workplace culture, which, in turn, encourages employees to be productive and loyal.

However, if you want to become a good leader, there are a few traits you should observe. Below are the six traits that every SME leader should possess.


In order for an SME business to survive, they need to have a strong prospect of growth. A leader can’t rest on their laurels as the business could quickly fall behind competitors. Setting goals and being determined to achieve them for yourself, your employees, and the company is one way to stay ambitious. Seeking continuous improvement to reach new heights for your business will make you a great leader.


It’s no secret that you may feel insecure at times in comparison to bigger businesses. You might have doubts about accomplishing your goals due to a limited budget. In fact, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year due to a lack of funds. However, you should remember that your employees look up to you and that your attitude, especially in difficult times, will affect them.

A person who trusts their skills and abilities is a confident leader. Believe in your own business ideas and know that you are capable of reaching goals and overcoming obstacles.


As an SME leader, your humility will take you a long way both in business and personal growth. Be humble enough to know when you’re wrong and learn how to accept feedback from your team. As such, you should do the same for them. As a business with fewer employees, you are directly responsible for their development. Let them know that you will help them reach their goals. Even as a leader, you should keep in mind that you are part of the team.


Having empathy and concern for others, especially those who work with you, is key to being a great leader. It means that you care for their well-being as people and not just as workers. For example, a common reason employees leave a company is because their workplace has policies that prioritize work over their wellbeing. Some examples are mandatory overtime and being required to be at their desk from 9 to 5.

As an SME, you cannot afford to lose employees — therefore you need to show some compassion. A compassionate leader is someone who creates a safe space for their employees to discuss their problems, knowing you’ll understand them. Having an open door to your employees helps develop trust and a healthy work culture.


Kindness is often mistaken for weakness, which is why many disregard showing kindness. It’s easy to be frustrated when mistakes are made, especially in a business environment. Mistakes for SMEs can be costly because it uses up your already limited budget. This is why some leaders resort to being detached and cold in order to ensure compliance, which can lead to less engagement among the workforce if they feel they are not being treated right.

However, being kind fosters confidence and growth in employees. It shows that they can trust you to help them grow despite their errors.


As an SME leader, you need to think of different ways for your business to compete with larger companies. You need to stand out in the industry for you to be noticed by people. A creative leader is one that allows innovation and experimentation to solve problems and come up with new ideas. This will ensure that your business is continuously competitive and that you are ready to conquer any challenges that should arise.

Being a leader is not a simple task. Aside from running a business, you also have employees to guide and goals to reach. Therefore, you should be equipped with the proper traits that will help your business succeed and make you an effective leader.

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