What Makes a Great Business Leader, According to a 20-Year Serial Entrepreneur Here's what I've learned about what makes a great business leader after nearly a quarter-century in business.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As a lifelong entrepreneur, I know firsthand the highs and lows of running a successful company. I've run several marketing firms, each catering to different national markets, as well as co-run a financial investments company and several lucrative mobile app ventures. Although it hasn't always been picture-perfect, I don't regret the ups and downs for a second — all of the learning experiences have made me the leader I am today.
It can be both exhilarating and challenging at the same time, but serial entrepreneurship is the perfect fit for me. In truth, not everyone is cut out to be at the helm of a company. There are certainly specific characteristics and components that comprise effective leadership. In this article, I will discuss some of the elements of what makes a great leader in business.
One of the most important aspects of being a great leader is to be empathic. Empathy is so important, but so often isn't something that is fostered in the corporate world. Yet, being empathetic is crucial for great leadership. When a business owner displays empathy toward their employees, they in turn garner respect from their team members. It enables a leader to be authentic about experiences and connect with employees on a human level.
Empathy allows you to retain top talent. If you're a jerk or unable to respond empathetically to the concerns or sensitivities of your employees, they're destined to leave. In my opinion, you simply cannot grow a company with a high turnover rate.
A clearly defined vision
Another essential ingredient that makes a great leader is having a clearly defined vision for the organization. Likewise, of equal importance is the ability to articulate the long-term and short-term goals of the organization. When team members clearly understand the vision and purpose of the company, that clarity inspires trust, confidence and a sense of camaraderie.
Being enthusiastic is of paramount importance for any leader. Leading with enthusiasm and having the ability to motivate team members towards a common goal is crucial. Enthusiasm is infectious and permeates throughout an entire organization.
As entrepreneurs, we know that any venture comes with both successes and failures. With any business, some things go right, and some things go wrong. The way a leader manages failure really is demonstrative of character. It's essential to learn endurance for the times when something goes wrong or a goal isn't met according to plan.
Most importantly, it sets the tone for how the rest of the organization handles the failure. Obviously, accountability and responsibility are necessary. The best approach to failure is to be pragmatic with your team, access together, and come up with actionable solutions that will lead to improvements.
Effectively deal with change
One of the most difficult situations for any leader is change. Having the ability to effectively deal with change in an organization is vital for a great leader. Regardless of what brought about the change, a leader should approach the situation from a constructive standpoint with utmost professionalism.
As business owners, we have to embrace learning for several reasons. A great leader in business understands that knowledge is essential to keep abreast of industry changes and innovations, as well as to improve personal skillsets. Also, don't be afraid to improve your skillset with more formal training in some capacity.
Personally, I've taken language courses with Lingoda and iTalki, while also taking technology courses on Udemy and Hubspot Academy in order to continue my education during my career.
Foster high-performing team members
A great leader in business understands that the most important asset of a company is its employees. Assembling a group of talented and proficient individuals who excel as team members will significantly improve the success of a company. In addition, it is essential to empower high-performing team members with a level of autonomy to do their work. A great leader understands that once a stellar team has been assembled, it is about fostering their potential.
As human beings, we are constantly evolving. Therefore, having a growth mindset with a willingness to constantly evolve is another important element that makes for a great leader. Assessing personal strengths and weaknesses is essential for any leader. Subsequently, self-awareness enables a better understanding of which areas require improvement.
Although there are different leadership styles in the business world, there are definitely specific elements and characteristics in a person that constitute a great leader. Most importantly, a great leader understands the benefits of continuous professional and personal development.