4 Must-Have Leadership Qualities Every Small Business Owner Needs to Have

Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Business Management, Startups [ 1 Comment ]

what are good leadership qualities?A good leader stands the test of time. Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mendela- all great figures who withstood adversity and catapulted their army of followers into an environment of prosperity and success. Leaders are often under immense pressure and scrutiny of both their employees and society at large. Some crack while others thrive. In fact, 37 percent of interviewed executives admitted to lack of faith in their own internal leadership, saying they didn’t have the skills necessary to achieve critical results in business today.

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So what’s the secret? Fledgling startup leaders flock to leadership conferences, fill their libraries with management books, and attend leadership training boot-camps- yet some still fail. While some are naturally gifted with innate traits of a successful leader, others acquire leadership skills through putting in the hours of practice. If you’re in the market for a talented leader to take your company to the next level or simply want to improve your own management skills, here are four leadership qualities to focus on this year:

Doing Rather than Swaying

It’s easy to get caught in the trap of either/or thinking to avoid making a concrete, consequential decision. Strong leaders never sit on the fence with issues. Confidence emanates from leaders, partly due to their innate tendencies to rely on their own judgment to make the appropriate calls. Although there are sometimes grey areas in business, a leader with a clear, unwavering direction can act quickly, encourage a team and establish a solid purpose. And, as the saying goes, not making a decision is still making a decision.

Listening Rather than Bulldozing

Listening is absolutely essential. If you’re not empathizing with those around you- be it your employees, customers, or colleagues- you could be missing out on insightful information and become a decision-making “bull in a China cabinet”. Those deep in the trenches of running your business often times, even if you won’t admit it, will know more about running the business than you do. Take the popularity of the show Undercover Boss, for example. Each episode presents yet another dumbfounded CEO who is flabbergasted at the viewpoints of his emploeers when finally listens to their cries.

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Adopting an open mind helps cultivate an atmosphere of candidness and sharing, which can foster innovation. If employees are anxious about interaction with management, it’s less likely they’ll come to them with concerns and ideas.

Accepting Responsibility Rather Than Pointing Fingers

Taking credit for the success of a project feels pretty good and is an easy thing to do. What’s not easy is extolling that credit upon others and accepting the blame when it’s warranted, and even sometimes when it’s not. Good leaders are not afraid to take the hit.

Doug Guthrie and Sudhir Venkatesh, authors of Leadership: Humility and Being Wrong, aptly explain that admitting fault can be a powerful tool for leaders. Not only does it solidify the legitimacy of the leader, but it also facilitates cohesiveness between the leader and his followers.

Mistakes are an unfortunate reality of both life and business. Leaders who take responsibility for their mishaps and mold them into learning experiences will create an appreciated sense of accountability. Being fallible isn’t a detriment, it’s a humanizing quality that staff will be grateful and respect you for.

Showing Composure Rather Than Insecurity

Although obvious at first glance, the primary goal for leaders should always be to lead. Keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity (even when admitting to a fault) will help maintain the composure and attitudes of staff. Complaining or speaking negatively of the work or business is harmful to everyone. A positive attitude reflects competency and confidence, and encourages others to be equally upbeat. Leaders work to make their companies whole – one entity working toward a sole agenda.

Related: 4 Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur 

One thought on “4 Must-Have Leadership Qualities Every Small Business Owner Needs to Have

  1. avatarMaxwellPinto

    Leadership is the art of mobilizing others toward shared aspirations. Leaders must take care of all stakeholders: owners, managers, other employees, customers, suppliers, the government, the community, etc. , in order to promote overall welfare.

    Great leaders are visionaries whose intuition helps them to capitalize on business opportunities. They surround themselves with “like-minded” professionals who complement them to help reinforce their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses. They realize that profits result from fruitful relationships and they are willing to distribute some of these profits in the sincere belief that this will promote overall financial welfare.

    Great leaders lead by (ethical) example: morals, fairness, caring, sharing, no false promises or unreasonable demands on others, etc., and structure compensation packages which promote effectiveness. Great leaders adopt a genuine “green” approach, rather than engaging in “green washing,” as an exercise in public relations, etc. Is “ethical leadership” an oxymoron?

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