If you were to ask 10 different people what would make a good leader, you would get 10 different answers. Some people believe that leadership skills are something that people are born with, others believe they can be developed, others still believe it is a combination of both. Considering how many books have been written about leadership and management, and how different global leaders are, it seems that the idea that skills can be developed is the closest to the truth. Take, for example, Charles E Phillips Infor CEO and Richard Branson, Virgin CEO. Those two couldn’t be more different, yet they are both true leaders.
In order to run a business successfully, you must have leadership skills. These can be developed by learning from others, gaining experience, mentoring, coaching, training, and more. But there are a number of key leadership skills that everybody should focus on above all else. These are:
- Being a visionary. You must be able to communicate, articulate, and develop a business vision. But you must also be able to inspire everybody else to follow that vision. A leader has to be focused on their vision, while also knowing what the business’ bigger picture has to be.
- From the above, it becomes clear that leader must be able to motivate and inspire. Business objectives can only be met by those who believe in them and understand why those objectives are in place. But leaders inspire not just their team members, but also their customers and suppliers. They all have to stand fully behind the vision.
- To inspire customers, the focus must be on the customer as well. Leaders always look at how their business is seen by their customers. Customer service is key, of course, but customer involvement is equally important.
- Leaders must be honest and have integrity at all times. They must build their reputation around this, and have personal values that embody this. Leaders must be able to keep calm and composed, even in a time of crisis, while retaining their honesty and integrity.
- They must be experienced and have leaders. Leaders know the ins and outs of the business they work in, but also the world of business as a whole. They should be committed to self development and encourage others to do the same. A leader knows that they have never finished learning, and always wants to absorb more knowledge.
- They must be confident and decisive. Making tough decisions is a part of leadership.
- They must embrace and lead change. People don’t like change, but change and innovation is necessary for businesses to grow, and leaders must be the driving force behind this.
- They are excellent communicators, regardless of how they communicate and who they communicate with.
- They have to be able to make others accountable, empowering them to develop their own skills. This requires strong delegation skills.
- They must be willing to seek support and advice. Nobody knows it all, in other words.