At some point we will all experience a leadership role but how do you ensure you are the best leader you can be?
What are the qualities of a great business leader?
Great business leaders are, first and foremost, great communicators within their organisation. They’re articulate about their vision, they offer clear direction and advice, and they listen carefully.
Great leaders are honest. They’re truthful with their staff, their investors, their customers and themselves. They understand that honesty promotes a positive business culture, encourages honesty in the people around them, and reflects well on their products and branding. They also have a sense of humility, which allows them to seek and accept the advice that a more arrogant leader would ignore.
Great leaders are confident and have a positive outlook. Leading a business involves dealing with setbacks and problems, but not dwelling on mistakes or letting these things hold you back. Focusing on the positives enables leaders to continue to motivate their team and to strive forward through the tough times.
Great leaders are hard workers. They’re committed to their business, to their vision and their goals. Crucially, they lead by example, demonstrating a hard work ethic to their staff, and accepting nothing less than the commitment of every team member.
Great leaders are creative. They think outside the constraints of how things have been done before, or how they’re supposed to be done. They generate new ideas, and they encourage creativity and innovation in their team.
Great leaders are motivators. They understand that even the hardest working employees sometimes need inspiration, support or even just a little thanks for their hard work. They know how to rally their team, fire them up and send them in pursuit of their next big challenge.
What one skill should every manager possess?
There are several skills essential to effective leadership and their relative importance varies between different situations. Overall, however, the number one essential skill is the ability to communicate effectively. Leaders can have the best ideas, the most insightful thoughts and the clearest vision of how to meet business objectives, but this is all worthless if they can’t communicate effectively with their team. Management is all about communication.
Clearly, a fundamental part of leadership is issuing instructions and guidance to staff. Whilst this should not be underestimated, it represents only the very start of a manager’s communication responsibilities. Communication always works in two directions, and the ability to listen, understand and respond are just as vital to effective communication as speaking and delivering information.
Effective managers are without exception sensitive communicators. They employ tact, humility and empathy when communicating with staff. Through their communication they demonstrate trust and respect for their team and they elicit the same emotions in return. They might operate an open door policy, or perhaps make a point of speaking to every staff member at least once a day, but they will have some way of encouraging staff to talk to them about their questions, problems and concerns. When necessary, effective managers offer confidentiality, firm direction and constructive criticism. They ensure that employees view them as fair, unbiased and reasonable.
In this way, effective communication is the key that unlocks management successes, including employee satisfaction, higher productivity and creativity and employee retention. Effective communication means that problems are identified and addressed more quickly, and ensures that everyone’s working towards shared goals.
It is clear that being a great leader is the combination of various traits but they ultimately relate to your ability to communicate. It is key therefore to ensure you are effectively communicating with your staff.