What it takes to be a good leader in business

We all have different leadership styles and we all know what kind of leaders we aspire to be. Smart owners and managers of businesses of any shape or size know to make a leadership development plan both for themselves and for their employees.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

How to be a good leader:

Here are our thoughts on some of the key characteristics of good leaders.

Be HIP: Honest, Innovative, Passionate

Lead by example by being honest and transparent with your team. Being authentic and true to who you are allows your own values shine through. To some extent, we all put on a more professional version of ourselves in a business setting. Acting differently from our values, however, can stifle our leadership skills of passion and innovation.

Good leaders communicate their business vision and purpose with their team so everyone can work towards a common goal. Do you know what your business’ vulnerabilities are? Don’t be afraid to be open with your team about what dangers your business is susceptible to. This isn’t a sign of weakness, quite the opposite in fact. It shows you have confronted the challenges and are ready for them.

Be ACE: Accountable, Creative, Empathetic

Holding yourself and your employees accountable will help you all to identify creative solutions to problems.

Set goals for your employees and let them know how this relates to the wider business purpose. Make sure your employees know their role, responsibilities and goals with clear job descriptions and performance metrics.

Reward good performance in regular feedback sessions and work with your employees to identify how they can improve. Timely feedback leads to better performance but a lack of empathy in your approach to feedback can make employees feel demotivated. 360 feedback surveys can help you to do feedback in the right way.

Be RAD: Resilient, Adaptable, Decisive

An adaptable and resilient leader knows how to build an agile culture that can withstand the bumps in its business’ journey. It can be hard to be the one making the tough decisions all the time, for example when it’s time to make changes in your team. It’s good to ask for help when you need it and delegate wherever you can. Identifying the areas you might need to outsource, for instance in people management, can help maintain the good health of your business.


courage leadership development
Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Courage is at the core of what it takes to be a good leader in business. For instance, the courage to make, admit to and learn from mistakes. Equally, good leaders know to empower their employees to be leaders themselves.

None of us can tick every box in the great leadership skills wish list all the time and no employees expect us to be constantly pitch perfect. Good leaders are made, not born, after all.

What we can do, however, is build leadership development into our business strategy. Leadership development plans force us to keep on learning. When we are learning, we are growing and this growth will also reflect in your profit margins.


Feature photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

About Susan Rochester

Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

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