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If you’re leading a business, there’s no question about whether you’re a leader or not. You are a leader. The only question is what kind of leader are you? Some people think that inspirational leaders just happen—they’re a product of personality, circumstance, and talent. While some may take to leadership more easily than others, anyone can develop themselves into an inspirational leader through intentional and thoughtful work on themselves.
Your business’s success or failure relies upon you as its leader, so it is well worth doing this work. Cultivate the eight traits below so you can be an most effective leader:
1. Inspires Others
More than anything else, an effective leader must inspire others. A leader is only as good as their followers. In order to inspire others, you need a strong vision. When you have a vision you genuinely believe in, your enthusiasm will be infectious, and others will come along with you.
You must also extend love and care to your followers. People will go to the end of the earth for you if they know you care about them.
2. Emotional Intelligence
Leaders need emotional intelligence, both internal and external. Internal emotional intelligence means you have inner awareness and self-control. If you’re triggered by a circumstance that brings up pain from the past, you’re able to identify what you’re triggered and practice self-control to keep yourself objective and calm.
External emotional intelligence means you have a sense of how to relate well interpersonally. You can practice appropriate behavior in your relationships and build others up. With internal and external emotional intelligence, leaders can not only can identify other people’s feelings, but they can identify their own feelings.
Trust is huge. When businesses operate in an atmosphere of trust, communication is smoother, more productive, and more efficient. Mistakes are communicated and resolved quickly. There’s more collaboration and less fighting; as a result, business goes faster and operations are cheaper.
Low trust, on the other hand, correlates to tasks taking much longer, costing more money, and making more mistakes. As a leader, you must work to build an atmosphere of trust by behaving in a consistent, fair manner, such that workers understand the expectations and have room to learn from mistakes.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell
Perseverance is a willingness to set your mind with the determination that you will accomplish what you set out to do, and you’ll do it with a positive attitude. Perseverance is the strength of character to push through when you would rather just close the door, cash it out, and go get a drink.
Running a business is hard. You’re going to hit obstacles on a regular basis; challenges will come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re going to survive and thrive, you’re going to need to persevere. Successful business leaders push through the hard times.
A lack of decisiveness can cause many leaders to stumble; in fact, it’s one of the most common complaints we hear from employees during our consultations. These leaders might be afraid to make the wrong decision, so they refuse to make one, delay the decision, or conclude they simply can’t decide what to do on a given issue. This can be incredibly frustrating for employees and makes your business vulnerable.
We’re not advocating for rash decision-making, because that’s dangerous too. Strong leaders should take sufficient time to weigh evidence and arguments about what to do—then move forward with decisive action.
A well-known proverb says, “Go fast, go alone. Go together, go far.” Empirical evidence supports the wisdom of this proverb, proving that teams go farther in business. Yet many business leaders would prefer to not deal with employees at all. Employees cost money, and they can be hard to manage.
When you go it alone, you’re able to pivot fast, make changes, and have control over everything. Still, at some point, you may decide you want to go far, and you will then need to bring other people on board.
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader
Your communication style has the power to motivate or manipulate your employees, to establish trust or dismantle it. When you communicate, are you harsh? Are you a people pleaser? Do you yell? Do you shame and humiliate? That’s poor and reactive communication.
A strong leader communicates truthfully, in a way that honors others’ dignity. They address honestly what needs to get done and how to get there. Their communication is delivered clearly, appropriately, and in a healthy way—in other words, the communication doesn’t come in the midst of an emotional reaction.
8. Empowering and Protecting
To be a strong leader, you must empower and protect your employees. That sense of security helps your employees give you their very best work. You empower people by giving them everything they need to be successful—all the necessary resources, training, and clarity they need to do their best work.
You protect your employees by identifying the rules and boundaries of how work is done. You clarify, “This is the way we play the game: these are the rules of how we behave.” In knowing the rules, employees can better decide what and what not to do.
Have you ever had a great boss or leader? Share with us below why they were so great!
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