What’s leadership in business? Leadership in business is the same as it is in other fields, such as in the military, nonprofits and politics – a leader has to have courage, honesty, strength of character, should communicate well and delegate responsibilities to the other members of the team.
As a business owner, just finding a great idea is only half the job – you will need to assemble a team, create a structure, strategize and bring the concept to life. Only a leader can build a successful business. A leader can be anybody – it doesn’t matter how young or how old you are, it’s doesn’t matter where you are a man or a woman, where you live, whether you are college educated or not, or even if you have money or not – you can be a leader and you can build a successful business.
For sure, when you have a startup, funding will be low and you will be at your wit’s end, trying to keep everything together and under a lot of stress. Your leadership skills will be needed in situations such as these, when the business is in trouble. Anybody can run an established business that’s been around for a while, but to start a new business and to make it profitable requires genuine leadership skills. Not everyone can do this.
So what separates a true business leader or an entrepreneur from just a dreamer? What’s business leadership, really? Can it be developed, or is it something you are born with? Well, nobody is a born leader in business. You become leader through hard work and persistence. A true leader is not someone who demands respect, but earns respect. A true business leader will have no trouble asserting their authority or commanding respect – it’s only those who have not earned their position of leadership who find it hard to get respect in an organization. It’s true in business, just as it’s true in politics and the military.
Keeping this in mind, here are the characteristics of a true business leader.
A business leader should be a very ethical person and should demand the same from their associates as well. You must raise the bar higher when you manage a group of people. As a leader, your business is a reflection of yourself. So make a special effort at being honest and enforcing ethical behavior among your employees. Make the workplace a friendly and helpful one for everybody concerned.
A true business leader knows that they cannot do everything by themselves, so they delegate responsibility. You must learn to trust your team. You must build a rapport with your staff and consider them to be a strength, not a liability. Delegates appropriate tasks to the various departments in your organizations – don’t overwork any employee at the expense of another. Make sure that the tasks are well distributed according to the specialties of each employee. Ensure that your employees enjoy coming to work and are enthusiastic about fulfilling their responsibilities.
As a business leader, you must establish a constant line of communication with your employees. You should be able to make your points clearly and succinctly. Even someone who is new to the organization should be able to understand you perfectly. You should be able to convey your vision to your team and motivate them to do their best for the business. You should introduce an open door policy to your office, which means anyone in the office who has anything to say can talk to you about it. You should communicate with clients as well and resolve issues as and when they crop up. You should be your business’ biggest cheerleader. Also, learn to take a joke – don’t be all that serious in the office. Create a stress-free environment at work.
There will be days when things don’t go to plan. There will be serious customer complaints against your business. A new product that you have just launched fails to take off. The creditors are impatient and they want to see results. It is in these times that your leadership mettle is truly tested. Anybody can be a confident leader when things are going great. But only a few remain calm, collected and confident when under pressure. As an entrepreneur there will be several occasions when you will be seriously tested and the future of your startup seems to be in doubt. As a true leader, you will welcome these challenges and remain confident about weathering the hard times. You will project strength to your staff and reassure them that change is around the corner and things are going to get better. Through your conduct, you will keep your staff motivated even during the darkest days of your business.
A true business leader is someone who leads by example. Workers respect a business leader, who doesn’t just sit in boardrooms, but fights in the trenches alongside them, handling irate customers, taking care of the marketing and the promotions, motivating and inspiring the staff, resolving inter-office disputes and more. To be an entrepreneur is a 24-hour job. It requires the sort of commitment that is impossible for most people, but not for a business leader. A true business leader burns the midnight hours, works without taking a break or even a single holiday and does everything humanly possible to get the business on track and to make it successful.
A leader is essentially a positive person. Anyone who is negative or pessimistic cannot be a leader. A leader is someone who hopes for the best and is prepared for the worst, who is full of energy and enthusiasm for what lies ahead. As an entrepreneur, you should fill a room with your positivity. You should be cheerful and motivate everyone with your positive attitude. You should retain this positivity even in hard times when things don’t go according to plan, for various reasons, such as an economic recession or a flaw in the product design.
You will need to be a problem solver as a business leader. This means finding creative solutions for a problem that nobody had thought of before. You will need to be very original and daring, keep trying new ways to solve old problems till you hit upon a solution that works the best for your business. You will need to do a lot of out of the box thinking as business owner. You will need to think on your feet and be decisive. Find creative solutions and make quick decisions – don’t always look for the easiest option. Look for the best solution to every problem.
As a business leader, you should learn to be instinctive at times and trust your intuition. There will be times when the problems are insurmountable. You will have very tough decisions to make. It’s so easy to over-think and over analyze these situations and end up doing nothing. Instead, you should trust your instincts and take quick decisions and see them through. A business leader needs to be decisive, more than anything else.
As a business leader, you should be inspirational to your staff and share your vision with them. You should motivate them to do their best for the organization and make them feel involved in the success of the business. You should work hard and inspire your employees to work hard as well. You should maintain a high tempo and make sure that your employees are suitably inspired and energized. You should maintain a high morale at the workplace even when things don’t look great and be an eternal optimist.
A leader is someone who is easily approachable. He can be reached out to by anyone. As a startup founder, you will have employees who will be from a variety of backgrounds – educational and cultural, with several different personality traits and value systems. You should know how to interact with each one of them and provide them with a highly individualized attention. They should feel valued and respected and feel that they have a role to play in the success of the business. You should make an effort to understand the character of each of your employees and find out what makes them tick. You should know when to praise them as well as when to criticize them. You should be able to get the best out of them.
So this is what leadership in business is all about. Do you think you have it in you to be a leader? Can you inspire and motivate your team to do their best for you? Do you have any of the characteristics of leadership as stated here? Only you can answer that question. Remember what we said earlier – a true leader is not born, a true leader is someone who earns the mantle of leadership.