Oftentimes, influential leaders will say that a good leader is born, not made. But we’d argue the opposite. A good ship captain is the one who’s seen many storms, pirate attacks, and turbulent seas. In the same way, great leaders are carved out by the uncertain currents of the market, and the competitive businesses springing up around every corner. In order to survive, a business – much like a ship – needs a sturdy, dedicated leader that will fearlessly venture the unknown ahead. How to achieve this? We offer a few starting points for your personal skill set.
You need to build a good support base among your workers. That means motivating them, being transparent, and making them aware of what they’re working for – what the company’s vision and mission are.
1. Be a good listener
It feels like a disease of the new age – CEOs often seem to be out of touch when it comes to their company’s inner works. Accusations of employers’ inability to listen to the workers have reminded us how listening is perhaps the most important skill you can possess as a leader. It helps build trust with your team, conflict resolution, anticipating the collective’s shift and ultimately becoming a better motivator and a person. Never forget you’re working with other human beings, and not worker bees.
2. Be reliable
People need to feel that they can trust you. The worst thing that could happen is to have your upper management and employees start to doubt your business decision-making skills. Once you’re a leader, you need to accept the responsibility of being a person everyone around you can rely on. From day-to-day quarrels to important company decisions. It’s a difficult skill to master, and it requires years of practice. But when done correctly, everyone will follow your vision to the end of the world.
3. Be honest
You’d be surprised how well people can take bad (or unfavorable) news if you’re simply honest with them. Every bigger step you take affects the company’s future not just for you, but for your workers as well. Hiding everything because it’s “above them” or concerns only “upper management” is a very bad move. Talk to them, make announcements and value transparency. To build a good support system, you need to show everyone they can trust your professional judgment.
From the get-go, we need to avoid a common pitfall – there are a good motivator and a good car salesman. It’s easy to think you’re the former when you’re actually the latter. The salesman will mask every bad thing to present the situation as being better than it actually is. A motivator takes the bad aspects into account and manages to find a positive outcome in that situation. With longer projects, when motivation starts dwindling and productivity drops, you need to be the one who will remind people of the ultimate goal, and boost their morale.
With your business:
There are so many skills one must acquire to successfully run a business, but we’ve singled out some that are often seen as crucial.
1. Being aware of the bigger picture
Never, ever lose sight of the bigger picture. The more a business grows, the easier it is to start focusing on the details, and personal gain, which allows for big mistakes and even bigger losses. In every new (un) favorable situation that arises, it’s best to stay focused on the wellbeing of the business. Even if it’s detrimental to your own personal gain. When sacrifices need to be made, the best leaders allowed it only to affect them.
2. Knowing your priorities and values
Every company has its goals that evolve along with its growth. And while it’s common to say that the end result justifies the means, in the business world, that’s not always the case. While a company can succeed financially, in the process, it can completely lose its values in the eyes of the customers. As a good leader, you need to be aware of your core company values and prioritize accordingly. Scrambling to employ anything and everything just to reach your personal goals can affect the company’s overall wellbeing.
Along with this awareness of your priorities comes adaptability. Whenever the situation changes, you need to be prepared to employ different routes and alternate solutions to newly emerging problems. Which means you can never fully relax, but grow, become flexible and keep learning. What’s more, learning has never been easier with online classes, like with Precision Group, for example.
Every good leader needs to know when to step back and let others take the spotlight. Your workers are there for a reason – they’re smart, capable, and talented – let them show what they can do. Eventually, the scope of work gets overwhelming, and this is where you can further motivate your most trustworthy and skilled employees by letting them carry some of your load. Not only is it good for their self-confidence, but it will also help you focus on the bigger picture.
Never forget why you’re here. Committed leaders are those who ultimately see their companies soar to success. No matter how long it takes, or how often you fail, if you want to be a true leader, the commitment must be your strongest self-motivating tool. It’s what keeps you going through gruelling tasks and difficult times. To practice this skill, keep your goals in a vision board, or on post-its, motivation videos, or a personalized journal. Don’t lose sight of your dreams, as they are ultimately the fuel that helps you keep your business moving forward.
In the end
What else is left, but wish you luck? There are so many qualities a leader must possess, and a lot of them look so unachievable and terrifying, that a lot of us will turn away from the idea of becoming one. The truth of the matter is that best leader aren’t born – they’re made. From humble beginnings, through trial and error, and hundreds of mistakes. So, take the journey and enjoy it! Learn from every experience, from every person you meet along the way. Only battle-hardened people can become wise, quality leaders.
CEO of Acu-Elligent LLC, Lori Smith, Provides Small Businesses With a Competitive Advantage to Securing Federal Government Contracts
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