Leadership is one of the most misunderstood topics in business. Is there such a thing as ‘a born leader’ or is great leadership learned? Why do some businesses have dysfunctional, destructive, acrimonious, and poor performing teams on one end of the spectrum whereas other teams are tight, harmonious, focused and productive on the opposite end of the spectrum? In almost all cases the team is a direct reflection of its leadership. Often a business coaching client will say to me “My team is crap and I don’t know why that is or what I need to do to turn it around.”
My standard answer is, “A good start is looking in the mirror. Your team is usually a reflection of you and your leadership skills.” For most business owners that might be a bitter pill to swallow but at the same time they will often nod in agreement. The next step is being willing to take it head on and start learning how to go from being a mediocre leader to becoming a confident and inspiring leader to your team.
What is Leadership
A simple yet effective definition is that leadership in business is the particular skill of being able to motivate a team to act towards achieving a common goal. He or she is the business owner that possesses the combination of personality and leadership skills that makes others want to follow the business owners’ direction.
An extension to that definition is great business leaders can get the very best out of their people by being clear on the direction of the company and their role within the company and by showing how to perform their responsibilities in an effective way.
Leadership is also about setting a positive example for team members to follow, by being excited about the work, being motivated to learn new things, and catching people doing things right as opposed to just bringing up the negative.
All this leads to a great ‘culture’ by design rather than ending up with a poor culture by accident!
Characteristics of Strong and Effective Leadership in Business
Effective leadership includes developing a strong character and learning to be okay with being vulnerable yet fearless at the same time. Having coached hundreds of different business owners since 2007 I can honestly say that every single coaching client I have ever coached has realised that they still have a lot of potential in improving their leadership skills. What are some of these key items/skills that help improve overall quality and effectiveness of successfully leading a team in business?
Here is a (inconclusive) list:
- Leaders find answers to challenges and are the first to reassure and inspire workers when things do not go according to plan.
- Great leaders are honest, trustworthy and display integrity and trustworthiness
- Strong leadership involves clear communication skills and the business owner acting in line with how they speak, they walk the talk! They use these effective communication skills for moving the business forward and achieving new levels of success.
- Inspiring leadership sees where the business is headed and plans accordingly how to get there. Following trends in the industry, and taking certain calculated risks to grow the business are all required of successful leaders in business.
- True leaders will display ownership, accountability and responsibility and will encourage and reward others on the team to do the same.
This is quite an exhaustive list and it will come as no surprise that business coaching clients need help and support with learning these things.
Becoming a better and, yes, even a great leader may seem daunting but it is so rewarding for the business owners who embark on this exciting journey. This is exactly what I help my coaching clients do. Learn, grow, implement. Sometimes we take a step back to take 2 steps forward but it is ALWAYS worthwhile, not just for your own personal and professional growth, but for the growth of the quality of the business and the team alike.