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The One Thing That Successful Business Leaders Have in Common What makes a leader more than just a competent manager?

By Gene Marks Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are people who rely on you: employees, customers, partners, suppliers, family. If you make wrong decisions or go out of business, they will suffer. They are expecting you to make the right decisions so that your company succeeds and their livelihoods are intact. You're the CEO, the president, the general manager, the business owner. This is why you make the big bucks, right?

Related: The Keys to Becoming a Better Business Leader

Of course, the immediate problems of running your business need to be addressed. Getting a shipment out the door, making sure services are provided as promised, keeping an eye on cash, negotiating a new order, authorizing repairs on equipment, interviewing a prospective employee and on and on. These are things you're doing every day and they can't be ignored.

But these are just tasks. Many of them can be delegated to others, when you really think about it. And you should. Because these are not the things you should be thinking about all the time. These are not the things that CEOs, presidents, general managers and business owners who run profitable, growing companies think about all the time. The best of them, the leaders, are doing something else.

Being smart, having capital, getting along with people, buying low, selling high -- these are all important things that every good manager does. But if you want to really be part of that group of successful leaders then you must always be thinking ahead. Way, way head. You must ask yourself all the time what decisions will I be making (or not making) today that will affect my business not next week or next month, but two, three, four years from now?

Related: 9 Ways to Become a Better Leader

Are you looking at new technology? Evaluating better equipment? Considering new markets for your products? Thinking of new regions to sell your products? Keeping an eye on the competition? Tracking the economy and key metrics? Reading the latest from leading economists and business thought leaders?

Are you aware of future tax increases or government spending decreases and what are you doing about that? Are you planning on a rise in interest rates or an increase in inflation? Do you see the economy improving and is your infrastructure adequate? Do you need an estate plan? Is there a buy-sell agreement with your partners? Are there children coming into the business?

Over the past 10 years I've worked with, interviewed and spoken to thousand of business owners. Here's what I've learned: Managers make sure that payroll is met, sales reach quotas and complaints are kept to a minimum. Business leaders make sure that their companies are pointed in the right direction and doing the right things now that will ensure profits in the long term.

The most successful owners I meet are these types of leaders. They are not managers.

Related: What Business Owners Can Learn From Taxi Drivers

Gene Marks

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

President of The Marks Group

Gene Marks is a CPA and owner of The Marks Group PC, a ten-person technology and financial consulting firm located near Philadelphia founded in 1994.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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