Small business leadership: Are you a queen bee or a worker bee?


“Nothing gets done around here unless I do it myself!”

Have you ever said that? If you have, it may be telling you a lot about your leadership. While it’s important for small business leaders to lead by example and be willing to get their hands dirty, it’s critical that they understand the position and responsibilities that come with leadership.

If you see yourself mainly as one among many “worker bees” you severely limit the growth potential of your small business. You may seem to win a lot of friends among your employees, but ultimately you will be doing them a disservice by failing to provide them with the enhanced opportunities that occur when a business enjoys healthy growth.

You need to see yourself in something of a queen bee role (sorry men, there’s no king bee for my analogy). The future health and very survival of the hive depend on the queen bee performing her function. I need to mention, by the way, that the first thing a new queen bee does after emerging is to seek out and kill any competitors to her “reign.”

This too somewhat parallels one of your main responsibilities as a small business leader. You need to always be aware of new competitors and work hard to keep them from usurping your position.

Although I’ve been framing discussion this using the worker bee versus queen bee analogy, it’s where the analogy doesn’t apply that really captures the art of leadership, and I alluded to it at the top.

To be a successful small business leader you need to strike a balance between being the chief strategist and the leader willing to do the heavy lifting alongside his or her employees. The strategist spurs growth while the practical leader inspires hard work and loyalty. Both of these are necessary for a successful small business.

What kind of report card would you give yourself in these areas? If you’re honest with yourself, it’s really pretty easy to find the areas where you can improve.

Are you having trouble inspiring the kind of loyalty you would like to see among your employees? If so, you may need to spend more time “shoulder-to-shoulder” with people on your team. They may have begun to see a reluctance in you to get down in the trenches. You may no longer understand the issues they face on a daily basis.

Is your growth stalled? In this case, you may have created a job rather than a business. If it’s necessary that you spend all your time working alongside your employees just to get the daily requirements accomplished, you’re shirking your responsibility for strategic growth. You need to delegate or get an assistant so you can start to move your business forward again.

Take a few minutes and fill out your leadership report card. Are you getting straight A’s, or are there areas where you need improvement?