Being a good leader is a never ending journey of self-discovery. It doesn’t matter if you have been in business for a year or 20, there is always something to improve and work toward. As a business coach for the past 25 years, I have met thousands of leaders across various industries, and I want to share the seven leadership qualities that I see being the most important to your success.
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A large percentage of entrepreneurial types struggle with “shiny-object syndrome.” You have a mind for business, and when a new idea or project pops up you get excited and may find yourself wasting hours, days, or even months pursuing a new project or business idea. While chasing shiny objects may be exciting, it more often than not doesn’t help you grow as a leader or as a business. If you want to be a better leader, practice your focus. Set aside time each day and each week to work on the things that make the most difference.
As a leader, you have a lot of things on your plate, and it is really easy to get swept up in the day-to-day activities of your business. But suddenly a week or two go by and you realize that you haven’t heard from one of your vendors in over a week and you have missed a deadline. Or maybe you have been so busy you haven’t taken the time to check in with your team and acknowledge their victories and successes. That sort of absent-mindedness can end up hurting your ability to reach your goals and retain your key staff. The best leaders take time once a day or once a week to be mindful of their actions and observations and connect with their business and their team.
Another leadership quality that we want to discuss is deliberate practice. Good leaders will set goals each quarter and work toward making them a reality. This means not only prioritizing the things that matter most to your business at the moment, but also setting goals for yourself as a leader. This could look different for every person, but an example would be that whenever a problem arises you take a moment and step back and give your team members room to fix it without your intervention. While it won’t solve every issue, the deliberate practice of pausing before reacting will, over time, help you lead your team better.
Can your team trust that you will do what you say? Being a good leader means being consistent in your behaviors. If you tell your team that you will have a task completed by the end of day Friday, it’s important that you deliver. If you tell your team that being on time for team meetings is important and shows respect for everyone’s time, then it is imperative that you always show up on time or early for meetings.
A good leader is strategic. They can anticipate where their market is going in the coming months and years and they have their eye on the larger picture. They have a plan and a backup plan if things don’t go according to their vision. While no one expects you to be a psychic, taking time to look at your business from all angles on a regular basis will help you prepare for whatever comes your way.
This one is difficult but important. The best leaders know that there is no such thing as a bad business decision as long as they learn from their mistakes. Maybe that marketing campaign failed to reach the goals, but you learned some important facts about what your customers do and don’t respond to. Maybe expanding into a different market wasn’t the best move this year, but you learned how to streamline your operations and will be ready the next time an expansion opportunity presents itself. Admitting that you don’t know it all and being willing to learn and pivot is a huge step in the right direction.
The final quality that makes a good leader is teachability. I have met some brilliant business owners who struggled with being open to learning, and it seriously limited their ability to grow and develop as leaders. A good leader knows the value of a business coach or mentor who has gone through similar experiences and is eager to learn all that they can.
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