Business Success

How Being an Effective Leader Is Vital to Your Business Success

Effective Leader Is Vital to Your Business Success - Image.jpg

As a business leader you will develop your own style. And while this will depend to some extent on your character, it will also be influenced by the qualities of those it is your job to lead, as well as by the sector in which you operate and the prevailing market conditions. 

Nevertheless, there are certain skills and traits which are common to all good leaders. Some qualities are innate, while others must be learned and/or acquired through experience. All are essential attributes which an effective leader must possess. 

Integrity

Commanding the respect of others without having to rely on the authority of your office is a compelling definition of integrity. Furthermore, integrity itself consists of rather more than simply taking appropriate action. It invariably means being able to consistently exemplify the principle in question through your own words, actions and behaviour in the broadest sense. 

For instance, never asking an employee to do something you would not be prepared to do yourself. Individual leaders who always act with integrity make an invaluable contribution to company culture. 

Warren Buffett, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire-Hathaway says, “It takes 20years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Self-awareness

This, of course means being able to assess your own strengths and weaknesses. But from that starting point a wise leader will take steps to address any weakness which is becoming an impairment, and curb any tendency to follow a certain course of action simply because it demands abilities one has already mastered. 

It is important that, if you are going to be a good leader, you get feedback in order to be able to improve. Iconic hotel entrepreneur, Conrad Hilton, was a leader that was concerned with his employees and would regularly ask for their opinions in order to better his company. This proved vital to his success and other hotel owners found the same thing.

Decisiveness

Leaders are called upon to provide focus and direction. Effective leaders will be aware that decisive action can create a positive momentum which of itself can influence a positive outcome. And similarly, over-cautious deliberation and delay often makes taking effective action even more difficult, simply because the initiative has been lost. Never pretend to be considering ‘all the options’ while you just tread water – the only person this ever fools is yourself.

Mary Bara is the chairman and CEO of General Motors and has been lauded for her decisive action to move the company towards electric vehicles.

Fairness

In any leadership role, your actions are likely to be scrutinised for their fairness. Above all, that means you must behave in a principled manner at all times and make your judgements without fear or favour. With decision making, it is impossible for any leader to satisfy all parties every time.

Nevertheless, provided your guiding principles are transparent, it should be possible for everyone to accept that you tried to act fairly. Conversely, acting unfairly is a fatal leadership flaw in the eyes of those who have to look to you for guidance. 

An eye for talent

It takes a great team to get truly amazing things to happen. Which is why really effective leaders always choose to surround themselves with other outstanding individuals. 

For example, Apple’s Steve Jobs was always on the lookout for uniquely talented people. That’s the real reason he was so keen to accept offers to speak at universities – because it gave him instant access to the brightest and best individuals. Besides this, he is known to have personally interviewed more than 5,000 job applicants in a continuing effort to hire the very best talent for his own creative team.

Knowledge

A mere talking head is worse than useless. Any worthwhile business leader must remain a demonstrably sharp practitioner as well as a facilitator. So a boss who lets go of the everyday soon appears out of touch to all whom they (nominally) command.

As a leader you should keep up with sector trends, be keen to learn and hear about current best practice, and know what story the statistics in your industry have to tell. That’s the only way to retain real respect and ensure that you hear truthful answers, rather than the accounts others calculate you might be satisfied with.

Acknowledging mistakes 

Someone who’s ‘never wrong’ can often be painfully irritating to others, and it takes a strong character to make a good job of acknowledging mistakes. When Amazon simply deleted unauthorised copies of ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ from Amazon Kindles their users had purchased, an almighty backlash soon followed.

Hearing of this, CEO Jeff Bezos immediately got Amazon to confess the error in an official press statement. He then offered his own “deep apologies to our customers” and accepted the Amazon action was “stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles.” The real moral? Once you start believing you’re just too big to say sorry, that’s when you start to look really small. 

Bruce Hakutizwi, Director of North America for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses.

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