Commentary by Kammi Skrzypek, head of northern territory at Farmers Insurance

As a small business owner, you likely play many roles in your company. Unless you work entirely on your own, one of your most important roles is to lead your team.

And for many of us, this may not come naturally. I've found that gaining your employees' respect and trust is key to your company's overall success and productivity. It will help you to have a positive and lasting impact on your employees' work ethic and experience. This in turn can lead to strong results. I developed a few tips I call the "Three C's" that I used to become a leader at work:

1. Communication

It's important to sit down with your team as often as possible and ask them for the good, the bad and the ugly. When I first started, I actively listened and asked questions of my team. This is a very simple step that can often be overlooked when you're taking charge of a group. I showed the people who work on my team that I was okay with not knowing everything and that I was genuinely interested in learning from them. A true leader should be transparent about what they might not know. Take it as an opportunity to learn from your employees. This can help build an open line of communication and establish trust with your team.

2. Confidence

You need to be confident in yourself as a leader, but you also need to show confidence in your team's abilities. When I started my new position, I told my team that I wasn't going to tell them what to do - they needed to show me what they were going to do - giving them the opportunity to showcase the skills they already possessed. It's important to help your team develop confidence in their own skills. After all, some of them may well be running the company in the future. Encouraging and boosting your team's confidence in their own abilities by reminding them that no idea is too outrageous to consider should remain paramount. One of my favorite things to tell my employees is that if you want to zig and I want to zag, it's fine, if we get the job done well at the end of the day.

3. Commitment

I am committed to my team just as much as they are committed to me. With a constant stream of communication and mutual respect, commitment comes naturally. I'm also open to different ways of working with my staff, meaning that I don't place rigid expectations on them, and I try to be flexible with schedules when possible. Commitment means trusting your people to do their jobs, do them well, and get results.

Overall, the common threads between the "Three C's" are trust and respect. When you trust and treat your team with respect, they will do the same - and this makes them more likely to develop an engaged and productive work ethic.

A productive team equals long-term success for your company. Being a leader means you are first and foremost a teacher and role model. Model the behaviors you wish to see in your team, show confidence in their abilities, and never stop communicating - that's how leaders are made.

Published on: Apr 24, 2017