As an entrepreneur you’ll have to wear many duty hats such as – innovator, trailblazer, accountant, motivator, educator in chief and salesperson – but the most important role you’ll play is that of a leader. By far the leadership role is the most challenging one. Being a leader is much more than giving orders and expecting being followed. It’s not even about power.

As the leader, you’re in the best position to serve others. You, above all else, have the power to make things better within the startup company. Which also means based on your experiences, rate of success of failures, no one else can make things worse like you can. If you want to be a real leader, there are a few traits you must embrace.

“Honor bespeaks worth. Confidence begets trust. Service brings satisfaction. Cooperation proves the quality of leadership.”– James Cash Penney

1. You Must Be Confident

To lead as an entrepreneur, you must be confident. Confident doesn’t mean you know how everything’s going to go according to plan because that’s unrealistic. Things will go wrong despite your best efforts. Confidence is believing you and your team have what it takes to resolve and surpass any obstacles that may come your way. That’ll make you an inspiring leader worth following.

Do not mix confidence with arrogance. The key difference between the two is how realistic you are. Confidence is rooted in what has been done before, it’s derived from life experiences, educations, practice and gut feeling. Arrogance is rooted in nothing but flights of fancy. It’s when one believes he cannot get it wrong, that he knows it all and way better than most.

2.  You Must Be Kind

Kindness isn’t an adjective used by entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are often described as smart or cunning, but rarely kind. Regardless, it’s a trait you must foster in yourself if you want to become a great leader. Understanding that your employees have lives beyond the office and answering to their needs is a core part of inspiring loyalty and keeping your turnover rates low.

However, being kind doesn’t mean being a pushover, nor does it mean shying away from harsh truths. If you need to get tough with your employees to change destructive behaviors and drive critical business agenda, do so professionally and with respect. Striking that balance will take some practice. If necessary, inform employees of the learning process. Not only will this help mitigate some negative reactions, it’ll help them be more open to you. What matters is to create team cohesiveness and working harmony.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”– John C. Maxwell

  3. You Must Be a Positive Example

While your focus is on the big picture, that doesn’t mean you can skip out on being a role model. You may work different hours and manage different responsibilities, but you must still serve as an example to your loyal employees. Words aren’t enough – you must demonstrate what you expect from them through your own actions. Leaders lead by being first and last when necessary.

When the job calls for it, spend your nights at the office, like the willing others. If it’s crunch time, eat at your desk with your team. Get things done on time. Be everything you want your employees to be. Leaders live what they believe, their actions speaks volume that is how they inspire others.

  4. You Must Protect Your People

You likely got into entrepreneurship due to your burning passion and the way it may improve your life. A successful startup can create financial independence and wealth. However, just because you got into this for you doesn’t mean your employees matter less. Without them, you’ll never make it. Your ideas, drive and creativity depend on the team to make it a reality.

That means having your employees’ back all the time. When things go wrong, you never throw anyone under the bus. You toe the line with them and defend them from rude customers and unfair situations. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re willing to look the other way when they make mistakes or fail to put in their best efforts. It just means you’re always willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. You have their back until it is proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that they’re not worthy of you or the organization you are trying to create.

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”—Sam Walton

5.  You Must Be Positive

Entrepreneurship is a grinder. It’ll chew you up and spit you out if you let it. Competition is expected to be fierce, regardless of the industry you’re in. You’ll face well-established companies with enough capital to steamroll you if you’re not a smart calculating machine. Sometimes it’ll feel like everyone else has their game together while you’re busy treading water.

Despite this, you must remain positive. It’s difficult to follow people who’re negative and radiate gloom. You must believe, with your whole heart and soul that this will work out. If you don’t, no one else will. Even in your worst day you cannot afford to dispirit your team. You must be always pumped up, regardless of how improbable your success may be

There’s no singular way for entrepreneurs to become incredible leaders. It’s a convergence of the right skills and proper application of those skills. Don’t expect to become a great leader overnight. It takes time and practice. Take things slowly and eventually you’ll become the leader your startup needs and deserves. Leadership is the accumulation of nuggets of wisdom derived from daily field battle scars. Welcome the field struggle as it is the only way to grow, expand by helping and serving others.