16/08/2012 05:09 BST | Updated 15/10/2012 06:12 BST

SME Leaders: How to Inspire Your Team Olympics Style!

Whilst we're all still in the Olympic spirit and celebrating the success of team GB's inspirational performance, now is a good time for Great British SME owners to think about how to inspire their teams.

Inspiration comes from example

Public confidence in the London 2012 Olympics and our Team GB athletes only took hold once we saw it all in action. SME leaders have the opportunity to be very visible with all their team members and lead by example. If your people see you achieving your targets and being successful, they will be driven to succeed as well - but they need to be able to see what's in it for them!

Optimists make better leaders

A recent Forbes article by communications coach Carmine Gallo looked at why optimists make better leaders. Optimists - those that are prepared to take risks and innovate rather than 'play it safe' - are able to inspire and rally teams to elicit a 'super human' effort. This is because they can see the bigger picture and think outside the box. Optimists are most likely to set up their own businesses so SME leaders tend to fit this personality type. Team GB never gave up hope of Olympic success despite all the negative press around the event. Although it's important for business leaders not to be inward looking, sometimes it's also necessary to ignore all the doom and gloom and take chances! Think about how you can inspire your staff to see opportunities where others would see uncertainty and risk. Just look at Olympic athletes like Mo Farrah and Usain Bolt who have no doubt in their abilities!

Get rid of the dead wood

The biggest motivation killer in the workplace is slackers who don't pull their weight. Carry out performance reviews and, as a last resort, find a way of removing people who aren't performing from the business. Ignoring staff issues because you don't want to deal with them head on will have a hugely negative impact on everyone and you could potentially lose your real talent. However, don't make performance reviews all about the negative - focus on people's strengths and what they can contribute. If they aren't performing to their job description, it might be because the job description isn't right for them or the business. Think creatively about how to get the best out of them! Maybe instead of being on the rowing team, they should be coaching them!

Remove other obstacles

If there are things getting in your employees' way, find a way of removing them. For SME leaders, this can be a lot easier than it is for chief execs of big corporate because it's much easier to restructure and people's roles are much more fluid. If people keep tripping at certain hurdles, make sure they can sprint instead!

Recognise progress regularly

Whether you are communicating progress against financial targets or rewarding staff for their efforts, once a year isn't enough. You should make a point of doing these things once a week to keep people motivated. This will no doubt be something that Team GB athletes do!

There is a lot we can learn from Team GB about how to inspire and succeed in business and SMEs probably best placed to take on the challenge!