What Your Small Business Should Be Looking For in a Leader

Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Startups [ 0 Comments ]

a good leaderHaving a strong leader seems like an obvious goal for business planning, but a recent study reveals some companies are struggling to find their next Bill Gates or Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM. In fact, 37 percent of the executives interviewed for the study admitted a lack of faith in their own internal leadership, saying they didn’t have the skills necessary to achieve critical results in business today.

Strong leaders are invaluable to growing a business. Take, for instance, Cole Hardware in San Francisco, Calif. Under the guidance of Dave Karp, who’s been helming the business since 1961, the local store has ballooned and now operates four locations in the area. In a recent article from Amy Lyman, a Ph.D. holder from the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of the Great Place to Work Institute, she attributed the success of Cole Hardware to the leadership of its founder.

Related: Startup Tuesday: Top TED Talks for Entrepreneurs 

How to Spot a Good Leader
For companies struggling to identify potential leaders – whether it’s internally or externally – they can lean on these indicators for assistance:

Strong leaders don’t often sit on the fence and aren’t easily caught in the trap of either/or thinking. Having confidence in one’s own judgment is instrumental in convincing others to have confidence, as well. With a clear direction, motivated leaders help direct their company and their employees without impeding their creativity of innovation.

The good, confident judgment expressed by strong leaders is a side effect of preparedness. Listening to employees on all levels gives those in charge the inside perspectives and facts they need to make sound decisions. It also helps cultivate an atmosphere of openness and sharing, which can foster innovation. If employees are anxious about interaction with management, it’s less likely they’ll come to them with their concerns and ideas.

Related: Turbocharging Employee Engagement: It’s More Than Just Tenure

It’s easy for someone to take credit. 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.

It’s unreasonable to expect perfection out of one person, and that includes leadership. 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.

As eluded to earlier, good leaders are never perfect. If they are unwilling to accept anything other than their own initial assessment or decision, they will quickly find themselves at odds with their own staff. It’s not about being right all the time, is the overall theme. Managers are meant to act as arbiters, evaluating each side with equal diligence and then making a well thought-out decision. Sometimes that will mean making compromises, but only if the outcome means forward movement.

Related: Employee Recognition for a Multigenerational Generation

Regardless of the word choice that may find its way to a manager’s office, the No. 1 goal for leaders should always be to lead. Keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity will help maintain the composure and attitudes of staff. A good leader doesn’t complain or speak negatively of the work or business because there’s no real benefit to those things. 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.

(Image via shutterstock.com

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