Leadership is an important component of getting a small business up and running. Leaders are responsible for organizing and inspiring a team of people to work hard so the business can thrive. But how does one become an effective leader? Here are the top 10 qualities of a great leader:
1. Effective Communicator
Effective communication skills are the top quality people look for in a leader. No matter how business savvy or intelligent a leader is, if they cannot communicate, they cannot successfully lead. Communication skills enable a leader to connect with employees, team members, clients and especially customers to build and maintain professional business relationships.
Trust is at the core of respecting any leader. Employees rely on their leadership for income and guidance, vendors rely on leaders for continued business, and clients rely on leaders for a product or service. If employees genuinely believe leaders within an organization are honest, they know they can trust that the job at hand will be carried out to the best of that leader’s abilities. Employees work harder for a leader whom they trust, respect and believe in.
3. Ability to See the Past, Present, and Future
A great leader needs more than an optimistic outlook for the future of the company. A great leader needs to learn from what happened in the past, adapt to how things are working in the present, and do their best to predict how things will work in the future, all at the same time.
4. Actions Speak Louder than Words
We can talk all day long about business ethics, healthy business relationships, and positive work-place procedures, but if those in leadership positions don't provide day-to-day examples of the aforementioned practices, others within the organization won’t either. The best method for encouraging employees to work harder and value their positions more is to dive into their work with them. Show your employees you practice what you preach and they will too.
Leaders must provide employees a reason to work harder and to their full potential. A leader is responsible for motivating and inspiring their employees to get as excited as they do about the business. Motivating employees can improve overall office morale and productivity.
For more information on improving morale and motivation in the office, please see our article "Improving Morale and Motivation."
Consistency makes a great leader easier to follow. Employees don't want to fear their leader, wondering about erratic reactions or day-to-day mood swings. Good leaders need to learn to have a proper balance of mental, emotional, and physical characteristics so employees have a chance to get to know, understand and adapt to the leadership style.
7. Take Responsibility
Leaders delegate and give direction to each employee. Therefore the work that is done by those employees is a reflection of each leader’s leadership skills. Leaders must show employees their support and accept an employee’s work as their own. It is out of the question for leaders to not go to bat for their employees in the good times and then abandon them in the bad times. Great leaders are responsible for their employees as long as they are within the organization, and under their managerial wing. It also goes without saying that if someone in a leadership position makes a poor decision or makes a mistake, it is imperative they fess up and take responsibility for their actions; never pass the mistake on to other employees or onto other colleagues in leadership positions.
Great leaders know everything that is going on in their business. They're able to discern what takes priority and delegate who is responsible for what. Having the ability to know and understand all of what’s going on in an organization allows each leader to approach decisions about the company in a comprehensive manner, understanding how each decision may impact each different portion of the company differently.
9. Relatable to Employees
Leaders need to work with all employees. Get to know who the employees are within the organization, how they work, what motivates them and what is frustrating or upsetting to them. A leader in tune with their employees can connect with them more easier and therefore create a more effective professional relationship.
10. Listen to Employee Feedback
Ask your employees for suggestions, comments and concerns and then be willing to genuinely listen to their answers. Great leaders learn more about their employees and how their business is running when they take the time to listen to those people vital to the success of your business.
Adopting practices of being a good leader is not only a good way to enhance one’s own working life, but it also makes for a better business environment. Employees work harder for a leader they respect and that they believe is making sound business decisions. Not to mention - a positive work-place environment leads to more productivity and employee satisfaction.