What is it that makes a great leader? Some would say that it is something which is inherently difficult to pin down and understand. But when you actually survey the top business leaders around the world, you find a number of common threads which everybody can replicate to improve their leadership skills.
Trait #1: Being Honest, Even When It’s Difficult
Running a business relies on keeping the channels of communication open and in accordance with the truth. It’s the responsibility of the leader of a company to demonstrate ethical behaviours which then filter down into the culture of the rest of the business. Most businesses are actually a reflection of the ethics of the person running them, so the way your colleagues behave is often directly related to the signals and cues you send out.
Being direct with people is essential to prevent confusion. Although being direct can sometimes be difficult, especially if you need to say something to an employee that they don’t want to hear, it’s necessary to make sure that everybody knows where they stand.
Trait #2: Having A Higher Cause
Great leaders aren’t just focused on products. They understand that products are important and make a difference in people’s lives, but they also know that they aren’t the be all and end all.
Moshe Viatcheslav Kantor is a Russian billionaire who made his fortune in the agricultural business. But, like so many other entrepreneurs, he also got involved with causes that were bigger than either himself or his business, such as nuclear non-proliferation. Leaders that get involved in higher causes inspire their colleagues and create genuine purpose in the workplace.
Trait #3: Ability To Delegate
One of the main reasons some entrepreneurs don’t make it is that they are afraid to delegate tasks to other people. They believe steadfastly that if they want something doing right, they have to do it themselves, and that the contributions of others aren’t important. There’s just one problem with this: it’s not true. Although entrepreneurs tend to have a high opinion of their own ability, they can’t do everything to the very highest standards. When they try to do everything themselves, they get burned out, and their business suffers.
Is there a solution? Yes. Entrepreneurs should prioritise the tasks which they need to do while offloading a lot of the responsibility onto others. Choose the jobs you know only you can do, while passing on responsibility for easier tasks to other people.
Trait #4: Confidence
Entrepreneurs are an optimistic bunch. With so much riding on their decisions, they have to be. If they worried each day about whether they were going to turn a profit, they’d be crippled by anxiety.
Confidence, especially at new businesses, is essential for building team morale. When spirits are low, productivity is low, and people look for work elsewhere. They don’t commit. But when confidence is high, you can get an enormous amount out of your team. Keep them keen by showing them how your business could expand and what you could achieve together.
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