7 Most Important Leadership Qualities for Entrepreneurial Leaders

The definition of a great entrepreneurial leader has been debated and discussed for years. It seems everyone has an opinion on what makes a good leader, but one thing that everyone can agree on is that entrepreneurial leaders are a different breed altogether.

In fact, it can also be argued that an entrepreneur’s leadership abilities and clear vision are fundamental to the overall success of a small business. Without a strong leader, the business is likely to lack focus and will inevitably struggle to find footing in a competitive marketplace. As you launch your own business and work on growing it, keep these qualities in mind as the most important to maintaining good leadership and keeping your company on track.

1. Good Communication Skills

Communication is the cornerstone of any entrepreneurial endeavor. Without clear, concise, and honest communication, it’s unlikely that your business will ever get off the ground. Encourage an environment of open, two-way communication between you and your managers, as well as among staff and leadership. Avoid being vague or ambiguous in your vision and instruction. Perhaps just as important, practice your active listening skills, and foster an environment of honest feedback and constructive criticism. By being transparent and willing to listen, your team will be willing to communicate with you.

2. Trust Your Colleagues

When you put together your team, you chose individuals for the skills and knowledge that they brought to the table. You saw something in them that made you believe that they could get the job done. So let them do their jobs. Don’t get in their way and try to micromanage every aspect of their work. Trust that they know what they need to do, and that they will seek clarification and input when necessary. Yes, the business is your “baby,” and you’re passionate about it. By giving your team ownership of their work, there’s a better chance that it will become their passion as well.

3. Supportive of Ongoing Development

Knowledge is power, and there is always more to learn. Encouraging your team to build on their skillsets, whether via enrolling in a program to earn an online MBA in California, attending conferences and tradeshows, or simply attending seminars or reading journals and new books, can have immeasurable benefits to your business. Devote a portion of your annual budget to employee development, or if that’s not feasible, give your team time away from work to spend on learning and development activities. The new skills and perspectives they gain will pay off in spades.

4. Honesty

It should go without saying, but a dishonest leader can never be a great leader. There will be times when you need to share bad news, or have difficult conversations. Approaching these situations with honesty and transparency is always going to engender more respect for you than trying to hide information or sugar coating the situation. No one wants to follow or be associated with a liar, or with someone who withholds or misrepresents information, so be honest and forthright in every situation.

5. Integrity

While honesty and integrity are often used interchangeably, they are quite different. In the simplest terms, honesty is about what you say, while integrity is about what you do. That being said, there are some nuances in that definition, but suffice to say that integrity is about your moral character and the consistency with which you behave. In terms of leadership, integrity means “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk.” You are a living, breathing example of the values that your business purports to hold, and everything you do aligns with those values. Having integrity builds trust, and inspires your team to act in a similar manner.

6. A Willingness to Share in Success

Great leaders recognize the contributions of others to their success. If your business takes off, and you take all the credit (and retain all the spoils of that success) then you’re more likely to create resentment than loyalty. Giving credit where credit is due, celebrating wins as a team, and creating a “we’re all in this together” atmosphere is the mark of a great leader.

7. A Change-Focused Mindset

Finally, great leaders are not willing to accept the status quo. As Harvard professor and leadership guru John Kotter noted, leadership is all about dissatisfaction with the present and a vision for how things should be in the future. Great leaders don’t rest on their laurels and wait for things to happen – they make things happen.

Entrepreneurial leadership is complex, and you will undoubtedly have strengths in some areas and need to work on others. But if you focus on these seven qualities, you will be well positioned to create a successful enterprise – and be a great leader.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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