The Qualities that make a good Business Leader

There are a lot of good business managers out there, but a good business leader is something different. To inspire a team of people, to secure their loyalty and get the most out of their talents, requires a combination of unusual talents. There are many leadership styles out there adapted to suit different personalities, but these are the key qualities that a leader can’t do without.

Self-discipline

Female leadership

Getting the best out of your team begins with leading by example. If they’re going to make a serious effort on behalf of the organization, everyone in your team needs to see you making an effort. If there’s no-one there to tell you what to do, that means you need to exercise strong self-discipline to set a good example. This applies to everything from when you arrive in the office to how you present yourself and how much you get done. You won’t need to work as hard to instill discipline in others when they don’t want to let you down.

Passion

As well as making your team want to live up to your example when it comes to discipline, you need to inspire them with your passion for what your organization is doing. This isn’t just about being a good orator, although speeches can be effective in the right context, it’s about the enthusiasm that you show every day and your ability to present challenging tasks in a positive light. It’s also about showing employees that you value their efforts and giving them the feeling of being part of something bigger, something that’s worthwhile.

Good listening skills

Communication is vital to leadership but what’s often overlooked is that listening is every bit as important as speaking. Being a leader isn’t just about sharing your ideas – it’s about showing a willingness to engage with other people’s and receive the benefit of expertise from every part of your organization. Doing this makes employees feel that they matter and inspires them to make more effort. It’s your job to evaluate ideas, make the difficult decisions and provide direction, but not to be a dictator who seems unreachable.

Willingness to accept blame

This might sound like an odd one and it’s certainly one of the most difficult for the kind of big personalities usually attracted to leadership roles, but it does matter. When you are a leader you are responsible for your team, in good times and bad. When they do well you get to ride that wave but when they do badly you need to be ready, if necessary, to protect them by taking the fall – even if you’re not really to blame. When they know you’ve got their backs like this they’ll show you real commitment in return.

Commitment to diversity

If being a leader is about getting the most out of your team, it’s also about knowing how to build the right team in the first place. As Lady Barbara Judge has previously pointed out, that can’t be done unless you’re serious about bringing in talent wherever you find it. This isn’t a matter of being politically correct – it’s about recognizing that in today’s competitive world, nobody can afford prejudice. What’s more, when everyone on your team feels valued based on merit, they’ll be happier and work harder.

Love of learning

As a leader, it’s easy to fall into the trap of valuing consistency above everything else, but as long as you don’t do it all the time, it’s okay to change your mind. Circumstances change in business and you need to be willing to adapt and change with them. If you take every opportunity to learn, you’ll be better at this, and the confidence of your team will increase because they’ll know that you can handle whatever comes up. You’ll also set an example that encourages them to develop and improve their skills.

Long-term vision

A manager’s job is to get by in the day to day and, generally, think no further ahead than that three year predicted earnings chart. A leader’s job is to envision the opportunities that lie many years, or even decades, ahead, understanding what the organization has the potential to become and constantly revising and updating plans for getting there. This is something that most people struggle to do and sharing your vision with your team will give them a sense of purpose, encouraging them to push through tough times to reap future rewards.

Leadership is often said to be more of an art than a science. As in any art, there are rules that guide you toward the best results, but you will need to demonstrate comprehensive leadership skills if you are to be successful at managing people. Natural talent is a significant part of this, however, by working to develop your talents you can make yourself into the person your business needs.

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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