Business Owners Give Their Take on Which Qualities Make a Leader Great? Part 2

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The infamous line of Shakespeare Henry IV, Part II, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” For all leaders the crown can feel like the weight of the world. And that crown can either break a leader or show off their strength to the highest degree. If a leader succeeds in wearing the crown well, what exactly contributes to that? What qualities make the leader one of the greats? Is it the ability to handle and put our fires without breaking a sweat, or is it their ethical behavior in business. We asked entrepreneurs to give their take on which qualities make a leader great.

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A passion for serving others

More than anything, Leaders must have a passion to serve. I strongly believe that the more people you’re leading, the more visible your wish to serve them, assist them and give them what they need to succeed must be. It’s a simple fact that your loyalty will in turn be rewarded with loyalty – no carrot or stick required! Take a moment to ask what your people really need to get the job done; lend a hand on the front line at crunch time and follow through on the promises you make to your team. They will naturally follow where you go first – so put a smile on your face, plant your feet firmly on the ground and ask, “What can I do for you?”

Thanks to Catherine Bell, Inspiration Leaders


The ability to see and lead potential

The ability to see potential in someone and take them to a place they would have not known was possible. Great leaders inspire and create the desire and the motivation in people to want to follow in their direction….to unite for a common cause. You have to be able to self-lead before you can lead. To lead is to empathise and influence a change in human behaviour.

Thanks to Michelle Tate-Lovery, Unified Financial Services


Being a well-liked leader

Since the mission of a leader is to create willing followers, it is necessary to look at the impact of the leader’s behavior, not at the behavior itself, to determine effectiveness. Most people can relate to managers they have known who thought s/he was positive and well-liked when they were not. It is possible that a leader may be observed telling employees that they are doing a good job, congratulating them on accomplishments, etc. and think that s/he is doing things that an effective leader does. However, if the employees think the leader is a jerk, is two-faced and someone who claims credit that really belongs to others, then it is unlikely that employees will respond to his/her requests with maximum effort. If effective leadership is about willing followers, all of the following questions should be answered “Yes.” 1. When a request is made for volunteers, do more followers volunteer than are needed? 2. Are jobs/projects completed ahead of schedule? 3. When a mistake is made, do followers admit it before it is generally known? 4. Do followers anticipate needs of the leader and initiate action before being asked? 5. Do followers offer multiple suggestions about how to improve results? 6. Are followers focused on getting the job done? 7. Are followers obsessed with getting details correct? 8. Do followers congratulate leaders as well as other team members for organizational accomplishments? If you get a “No” or “I don’t know” answer to any of the eight questions, follow the advice below. It is difficult to imagine an effective leader who is not well-liked by the followers. Although it is possible for a leader to be well-liked and not be effective; it is impossible for a leader to be most effective and not be well-liked. Don’t try to be well-liked. If you do, you will surely fail. However, if you find that the most satisfaction you get from your job is helping others be successful, you will not only be well-liked but also be an efficient and effective leader.

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Thanks to Aubrey Daniels, Aubrey Daniels International

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Good leaders are great listeners

In 1993 when I started my IT company, New England Network Solutions (NENS), it became clear that computer nerds (like me) often have a hard time communicating effectively with business owners. I discovered one of the main reasons is because we look at problems through a different lens. For example, suppose a CEO’s printer breaks while she’s printing out a speech that has to be delivered in an hour. The executive doesn’t care how the printer gets fixed (which is our focus); she wants us to solve the immediate problem of getting the speech in her hands. Good leaders are great listeners and teach their teams how to truly understand clients’ concerns even if they can’t be adequately articulated in times of crisis. Over the years, we’ve invested in extensive staff training on client communication that has been highly effective, reduced confusion and ultimately, helped our business grow. Great leaders also have highly effective and engaged staff members. They understand that employees need support and resources to do their jobs well. At NENS, we have a very low turnover in part because of our extensive month-long onboarding program. The program gives them a deep dive into the company long before they do any client-related work. We also provide a “welcome packet” for their spouses/significant others because their support and understanding is critical to our employees’ success.

Thanks to Dan Adams, New England Network Solutions


Learn to maintain vision

When I think about leadership, I reflect on my tenure in Silicon Valley. High-stakes, high-pressure startups require daily gut checks, as you constantly deal with the expectations of venture capital backers, rapidly shifting landscapes, exceptional competition, ongoing tests of the viability of your business model, and many other intimidating circumstances. In this environment, I learned to maintain my vision despite the naysayers. I learned to embrace failure, but learn from my mistakes quickly and fix them even faster. In this type of culture, there is an immense pressure for speed – but when it comes to talent, hire slow. A great team that is aligned to a common mission led by a person of high integrity, commitment and vision is most likely to succeed.

Thanks to Edward “EJ” Jackson, Provade

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The ability to thrill

Every great leader has the ability to make you feel excitement—that tingling sensation of anticipation, bravery and opportunity. This is true for political leaders and corporate CEOs. In the entertainment business, where I spend much of my time, this trait is shared by the most successful directors, producers, and heads of networks and studios. They can walk into a room, or just mention something to you over coffee, and you immediately buy into their vision of the next big thing. How can you learn to do this yourself? Get really clear on your vision, and then practice, practice, practice: Find the most succinct and engaging way to communicate the big picture, and then share it repeatedly with other members of your team, and with your customers and investors. The more you do this, and the more your constituents hear it, the more real your vision will become.

Thanks to Adam Leipzig, Entertainment Media Partners

Related Post: Inspirational Quotes from Innovative Businesspeople


Building relationships between employee and employer

The success of any company relies greatly on the relationships built between employer and employee. A run-of-the-mill boss becomes a leader when she acquires the ability to relate to the people who work for her. These women have to balance being a friend and a boss, assigning tasks while not sounding autocratic, and staying influential while still leading by example. The tranquil, yet professional offices of Hera Hub provide the tools to become that of a transformational leader- one who motivates employees and enhances efficiency through communication and involvement. The all-female coworking space offers supportive workshops and classes that help women enhance their skills and build their businesses. ‘Topic Tuesday’ is a popular class that covers topics like “Lifestyle Medicine Strategies for the B usy Multitasking Woman” and “How to Attract Your Ideal Client”. Female business guru Martha Stewart said, “I try to seek out and surround myself with people who just percolate fresh, original, and creative ideas”. And that is exactly what Hera Hub does; it brings like-minded businesswomen together and empowers them to thrive in the business world.

Thanks to Felena Hanson, Hera Hub


Experience repertoire and mindset

Two tightly interwoven factors contribute equally to the success of the modern leader – their experience repertoire and their mindset. A leader’s experience repertoire consists of both the number and variety of unique experiences collected over the course of life. Not the deep tenured experience or skill sets developed in a very specific area, but rather the broad portfolio of diverse experiences at all levels, both professional and personal that allow the leader to make cognitive connections not available to others. A leader’s mindset is the particular way they look at the world, the lens through which they see things and come to understand them. It is the difference between an open mindset and a closed one; between a mindset that reacts to risk with fear and one that perceives opportunity; between a mindset predisposed to exploiting the current or exploring the future; between a mindset with a default set to defend or to discover. These are the qualities required to meet the four broad challenges all leaders face: 1. Sense Making and Sense Shaping 2. Building Personal Credibility and Followership 3. Ensuring Clarity and Understanding 4. Aligning Perspectives 5. Creating Winning Conditions.

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Thanks to Doug Williamson, The Beacon Group


It’s all about vision

True leadership, as opposed to good management, is really about vision. The qualities of a great leader are a steady calm self-assurance and the ability to communicate vision in a way that is not self-aggrandizing. Great leaders inspire and energize others to offer their best and to be excited in giving that best. Great leaders orchestrate energy and action and is seen among those they lead as an active participant in the process of attaining the organization’s mission and vision as opposed to just being a “talking head” in some “ivory tower.” So bottom line; great leaders are communicators with inspiring vision who are both heard AND seen by those they lead.

Thanks to George C. Thomas, The Institute for Christ Centered Manhood


Create democratic work environments

Great business leaders create democratic work environments. They’re not completely autocratic, making all final decisions and forcing all team members to carry out their duties without question. But they’re not so laissez-faire either. To be a democratic leader, one would blend both autocratic and laissez-faire leadership styles. The leader will always give out instructions or offer input and direction, but team members and workers will be able to participate in any decision-making through debates and group discussions. Great leaders are democratic; they will be able to take immediate action and manage team members when necessary, and also provide enough freedom to allow team members to work at their own pace under their own terms.

Thanks to Ian Aronovich, GovernmentAuctions

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Great leaders know what they want

The greatest leaders all have one thing in common: vision. Great leaders know what they want and they have a great understanding of how they can reach their goals. In business, leaders work to make sure their companies will have longevity, that their products and services will satisfy their customers’ needs and thus be viable moneymakers. To make their visions a reality, leaders stay proactive, never idling and waiting for success to come their way.

Thanks to Michael Pesochinsky, GovernmentBargains


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