When starting your own business, or when feeling stagnant in a leadership role, getting back to the basics can help you gain perspective. What is it that makes a successful leader? What is that special recipe required to create an inspiring and effective head? Though there’s no formula for greatness, there are a few key concepts that entrepreneurs can apply to their leadership to adapt to changes and become the best leader they can be.
Know Your Strengths
Before you can know how to lead, you should know what kind of leader you are. Even if you decided what style of leadership suited you at the beginning of your career, the truth is, we change and grow through experience, and you may have outgrown your original style. One way to determine your current leadership style is to take a leadership style quiz. These quizzes help establish what concept of leadership best suits your personality and beliefs. After you know the school of thought that you fall into, you can then delve deeper into the strengths that best define that style and better hone these skills for optimum effectiveness.
In addition to knowing one’s strengths, leaders must be confident enough in them, and comfortable enough with themselves, to make the decisions and take the risks that other heads may not immediately agree with. Possessing that comfort comes from knowing yourself and trusting your own judgement after carefully considering the options. More often than not, the best decision is not the easy one.
Jim Dougherty, CEO of Intralinks, believes that establishing open communication with employees should be a leader’s top priority as the solutions for some big problems may come from those on the ground floor. Open communication between a leader and his or her employees is one of the most important elements in being successful. To create this kind of honest repertoire, a leader must not only tolerate but encourage employees to participate in constructive dialogues between themselves and with management.
The result is an environment in which employees feel empowered by this two-way trust and will ultimately verbalize their challenges and frustrations instead of allowing disagreements to fester into toxic attitudes in the workplace. When they are not afraid of reprimand, employees will feel more compelled to search for answers to their challenges as a group, therein building the resiliency of the team.
President Woodrow Wilson said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people,” and these sage words apply to business as surely as they do to presidency. Though it is imperative that the workforce hear and understand their management, the best leaders recognize the importance of listening to others, particularly their workers. When leadership provides one-on-one communication with individual team members, these members feel valued and appreciated. An effective leader expresses sincere concern for their employees through both their words and actions. A little recognition can go a long way in the workplace.
When leaders allow open communication and recognize when employees offer valuable work or ideas, group members understand that they are welcome to contribute, resulting in a more invested team.
To network effectively, a business leader must engage people outside of their comfort zones. Some networking occurs naturally at the workplace as you develop relationships with the people around you, but effective networking involves extending beyond your immediate surroundings and cultivating relationships with the individuals that can help you streamline your goals and efficiently fulfill your role as a leader. You may need to network the Human Resources manager in order to hire the most qualified employees or get to know the marketing team to best convey your vision.
A prime example of a successful business leader who understands networking is Joshua Cooper Ramo; he literally wrote the book on it. In his latest book, “The Seventh Sense,” Ramo describes how leaders view the world and touches on the importance of establishing a network and learning how to continue building and growing it.
All in all, operational and strategic networking help managers view the bigger picture and develop their own approaches.
It’s true there is no formula for greatness, but there are basic tips that business leaders can follow to set them on the right road. When starting out or trying to jump start a career, practice these key concepts of leadership that exude success.