Running a successful business requires good leadership.
The good news is that, while not all of us are natural born leaders, leadership skills can be learned and honed.
Here are seven important traits you need to possess in order to be a good leader …
Be a good listener
Great leaders listen to their subordinates and take on board what they’re saying. You obviously don’t need to act on every suggestion, because being a good leader also requires a firm hand and the ability to be a good and resolute decision-maker. But you do need to hear every suggestion, because not only will your employees provide ideas that you perhaps never contemplated yourself, they will also feel valued by you hearing them out. It’s a win-win.
Communicate with your team
Vague or absent instructions can lead to disgruntled employees and productivity issues. Always communicate clearly with your employees, letting them know what is going on, and what you expect from them. Where possible, give them insight into the bigger picture, so they know the company’s goals and aspirations, and can see themselves as a part of it.
Don’t patronise or belittle your employees
Stressed and overworked leaders (and those struck with acute cases of arrogance and superiority) have the potential to be rude, patronising and belittling to their employees. Always make sure you treat your workers how you would want to be treated in their position. If you’re treating your workers badly and don’t realise that you are, then self-awareness is something you need to work on. Imagine your own reaction if someone had used your words, and do this each time you speak to an employee, in order to keep your courtesy in check.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Nobody’s perfect, and it’s impossible to run a business without making mistakes, but the best leaders are the ones who understand that mistakes will be made and are often necessary to move forward. Don’t fear mistakes, because it’s the way you deal with them and come out the other side that really counts – and makes you a better businessperson.
Surround yourself with talented people
It’s very important to build a well-rounded and talented support team. Surround yourself with individuals who possess the skills you lack, because good leaders recognise their own shortfalls and weaknesses as well as their strengths.
David Ogilvy once expressed these wise words: “If you ever find a man who is better than you are, hire him.”
Be willing to delegate
If you surround yourself with clever and talented staff, you need to be able to let them apply their strengths and do their jobs. It’s pointless to employ people if you carry on trying to do every job yourself. You have to learn to and be willing to give up control, and to trust in others, and to let your team do what they do best. Otherwise, why did you hire them?
Always look forward
Good leaders are always visualising the future and planning where they want the company to be five years from now. If you’re not looking forwards, particularly in this fast-moving and rapidly changing and advancing economy, then your company could stagnate. Stagnation is no good for any business, small or large.
What other traits do you think are important for business leaders?