All business owners and executives have varying experiences and perspectives on the approach and qualities necessary for effective leadership. And not all situations require the same type of leadership style. Great leaders adapt to their surrounding environments and empower the team to succeed together.
Many experts across countless leadership books and articles agree on certain principles required for leading a team to greatness, but when it comes down to it, the most important factor is whether or not the leader is getting the job done.
My philosophies on leadership have evolved over time through research, experiences in combat as a Navy SEAL and from my successes and failures running my own businesses. I believe that the best leaders are passionate about developing the emerging leaders around them, they constantly work to improve their emotional intelligence and know that a strong team culture is the foundation for accomplishing the mission. They are in a perpetual state of preparation and embrace the inevitable changes their businesses will face.
For the purposes of this article however, I wanted to get other business leaders’ perspectives by having them answer one question: In your opinion, what makes a great leader?
1 – Have Faith in Their Beliefs
It’s a mix of a lot of things, but first and foremost it’s about having faith in your beliefs. You can’t expect others to consider you a leader unless you have solid faith in your ideas. And once it’s there, you build on it by being a good communicator, listening to others, setting examples and by putting your best foot forward and not giving up. Leadership is all about being passionate about what you do, and having confidence in yourself and your followers whom you have to motivate and inspire.
2 – Make the Hard Choice
Great leaders make the hard choice and self-sacrifice in order to enhance the lives of others around them. As a business owner, not only does your family rely on you – so too, do the families of those who work for you. Each employee has a family. Even if you’re a small business owner with four employees, you’re in essence potentially responsible for an additional ten or fifteen people.
3 – Earn the Respect of the Team
Having the ability to show respect, empathy, and care to those that follow you, are all attributed to being a great leader. Earning respect is crucial to a successful relationship with someone, while also showing that you care about their work or ideas. Being empathetic allows a leader to tap into the emotions of that individual in order to connect in a way that lets that person know you understand what it means to be in their situation. Combining all three of these traits can definitely make someone a great leader.
4 – Know the Team
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of every individual to effectively manage the outcome of a team is imperative for success. Leaders have a great vision and use the resources at hand to solve problems. They take risks and make hard decisions, knowing they could sometimes be wrong. Those are the most important qualities of a real leader that work similarly in our professional and personal lives.
5 – Know That the People are the Key to Success
A great leader understands that it is the people they lead that ultimately determine the success or failure of any venture. They surround themselves with great people that they can cultivate into a team of competent, confident individuals who can work well as a team. They then have the ability to guide this team towards a well-defined vision by clearly communicating short and long terms goals, inspiring confidence and trust among colleagues, and influencing common efforts through character rather than by a position of authority. Ultimately, a great leader creates and nurtures other leaders.
6 – Articulate a Clear Vision
A great leader possesses a clear vision, is courageous, has integrity, honesty, humility and clear focus. He or she is a strategic planner and believes in teamwork. Great leaders help people reach their goals, are not afraid to hire people that might be better than them and take pride in the accomplishments of those they help along the way.
7 – Push People to Be Their Best
Great leaders have clarity of purpose and are great at articulating their beliefs. They push people to be the very best they can be but still make people feel safe because it starts with the heart.
8 – Serve a Greater Cause
Great leadership is determined by one’s periodical blend of personal humility and unparalleled will to lead others in service of a cause bigger than themselves. Great leaders are incredibly ambitious, but never for themselves. Rather, they are ambitious for the company and possess the will to do whatever is necessary in service of this greater cause.
9 – Focus on Helping the Team
Ultimately, leadership is not about who is in charge. It’s about making sure your team stays focused on the goals, keeping them motivated and helping them be the best they can be to achieve those goals. This is especially true when the risks are high and the consequences matter.
10 – Do Not Lead by Force
A great leader does not lead by forcing people to follow. Instead, a great leader motivates people. They encourage others to follow them. They also lead by example, which few leaders do today.