Whether you are leading an entire company, a department, or a small team, if you want to be a successful leader in business, there are certain traits you must acquire. While being a leader is not a one size fits all position, the most successful leaders share a set of personality traits. This blog post will outline the 5 common business leadership skills you will want to improve over time.
As you read these qualities, be sure to consider where you stand on a scale of 1-5, 1 being it doesn’t describe you at all and 5 being it describes you perfectly. If you find that your rating is a 3 or below, you want to think about developing your leadership skill in that area. It has been said that employees don’t quit their job, they quit their boss, so if you can ensure you’re the best leader possible, you will likely increase retention rates, productivity, and engagement within your company.
For more on improving employee engagement, get a copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement, for free. Decisiveness
Leaders are required to consistently. Those who you lead look to you to take action that will move the company forward. If you are unable to make decisions that will benefit your team, department, or company, you will be unable to succeed in a leadership position.
Decisions will sometimes need to be made quickly, so you must practice your ability to make choices that require quick, on the spot decision-making skills.
Other decisions are based on a long-term plan and require collaboration, strategy and more thought to be successful.
Leaders sometimes believe that to be a good decision maker they must do it independently, but often, making decisions will involve communicating with other stakeholders in the company from various levels.
Being able to communicate through the decision-making process and come to a conclusion that suits everyone involved is one of the signs of a real business leader.
Integrity is your ability to be honest and behave in an upright manner. As a leader, others are always looking at you to see how you react in situations and will see you as an example of what to do and how to move throughout the company.
You must carry yourself with integrity to be a leader that guides others. You don’t have to be perfect and maintain a 100% squeaky clean image with no room for error, that’s difficult to manage, instead, be honest. Be relatable. Be real with your team.
If you make mistakes, explain what happened and what could be done differently in the future. Do not put yourself in a position to fake being perfect, then let down your team when they realize that you are only human.
Also, do not take the idea that you are only human too far. You must always keep in mind that you are the example of leadership within your company.
As the leader in business, you have to know what’s going on in your company and your field. You’re not required to be an expert on every topic within your business, but you should have a general understanding of most issues related to your niche.
In certain situations you won’t be able to provide the necessary resources or information, so it’s important to know where to quickly access information that’s required to move your company forward.
If you lack a strong knowledge base, people will see your deficiencies and recognize that you don’t know much about the area in which you call yourself a leader.
Endurance is the ability to keep going. As a leader in business, you must keep going because all eyes are on you. If you’re unable to maintain endurance as the leader, others will see that it’s okay for them to stop when things get hard.
It’s an excellent teachable moment for your team to let them sometimes know when you are feeling tired or stressed and what you do internally to keep yourself going so you don’t quit. They will see you as more relatable and hopefully learn from you instead of believing you’re a corporate robot who never has a bad day.
Also, when you lead others, they will turn to you as a shoulder to lean on when times get tough for them. Having to motivate them to keep going and keep yourself going can be taxing, that’s why having enough endurance to support yourself and those around you is crucial.
Building a supportive company culture is a great way to lift the burden off everyone’s shoulder and improve endurance all around.
When you hear the word imagination, you might envision crayons, glitter, painting and imaginary friends, but imagination is a an authentic and crucial quality of a leader in business.
Having imagination is the ability to develop an idea based on something that isn’t currently true and believe you have what it takes to make it come to life. Any leader without the ability to imagine a better future for the organization in which it leads will always be holding back the company.
When Amazon offered first went public in 1997, and a share was only $18, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and his team imagined the company growing. As of October 2018, Amazon stock is over $1,600 per share.
When Oprah Winfrey started her career as a radio personality in Nashville, TN, she imagined that her career would grow beyond her then position. Now Oprah’s net worth is 2.9 billion, not million, dollars.
Many successful people have had to imagine their success before they experienced it or imagine their business improvements, upgrades, significant changes and partnerships before they became real. You must do the same.
When you are a strong leader in business, those who you lead will recognize it and respect it. While many leadership traits vary from the 5 detailed above, be sure you have these established as a bare minimum set of qualities you concentrate on building.
Finding a highly skilled, hardworking and consistent employee to join your team can be a difficult task. Some companies find it just as challenging to decrease turnover rates of their best employees.
The reason an employee chooses to resign can vary widely. Some get married and move to another state. Others decide to start their own business. They might have a baby and decide to stay home or even win the lottery. Those are all based on circumstances that have more to do with their personal lives and less to do with the decisions made by their managers.
The other reasons good employees quit their jobs are often directly related to their employer. Poor management, lack of advancement opportunities, and the inability to maintain a work/life balance are some of the reasons given by good employees who choose to quit their jobs.
When you are dedicated to keeping the employees you manage satisfied and employed with your company, you must first develop a firm understanding of the top reasons why good employees leave their jobs.
Wendy Durante Duckrey, Vice President of recruiting at JPMorgan, is famously quoted as saying, “most people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their boss.”
It is also one of the top reasons good employees give for leaving a job.
When an employee feels supported, encouraged, and motivated by their superior, they will work harder for them, and remain more dedicated to their position.
If they feel their needs are not being met and their concerns are not being addressed, they are less likely to remain with the company, not due to the job itself, but due to management issues.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of proper training for many who enter into managerial positions. It involves more than paperwork and tracking metrics. Managers must have strong people skills and the ability to develop relationships with those who work under them.
Otherwise, employers who struggle to manage their employees will continue to face the harsh reality that goes along with high turnover rates.
There’s nothing worse than going to work every day, doing your job to the best of your ability, being expected to go above and beyond your required tasks, and feeling underappreciated and undervalued by those at your job.
It is one of the fastest ways to decrease employee engagement and to lose a good employee.
You can make your employees feel valued in many ways including:
The ways in which you can make your employees feel valued are endless and can fit any budget your company has.
While all employees should be made to feel appreciated, it’s especially important to do this for employees who are continually working hard and taking on additional responsibilities beyond what they’ve been hired to do.
Most employees want to feel challenged in their career. Being in a job with no advancement opportunities, be it their position or a significant salary change, will often lead to the search for new employment, especially when they recognize their value as an employee.
It’s important to give employees an opportunity to stay with your company as they improve their skills and advance in their career.
You can do this by making new job opportunities known to employees within the company, so they have first dibs before bringing in outsiders.
Also, check in with your employees at minimum once per year to discuss their career goals. This will allow you to gain an understanding of how your employees are feeling regarding their current position and hopes for the future.
Also, offering educational opportunities and tuition reimbursement opportunities can provide your employee with a reason to remain with your company while gaining skills that can lead to advancement in the future.
Today more than ever, the desire to have a career that still allows for flexibility, time with family and friends, and a healthy personal life is at the top of many employees’ list.
When employees are overworked, it reduces their ability to maintain a healthy a work/life balance.
It’s often found that good employees who show their ability to handle their job and take on additional responsibilities find the weight of their department placed on their shoulders. While it might be seen as a way to show your trust in the employee, it is actually a form of punishment. It shows that when an employee performs well, they are rewarded with additional work and no salary increase.
When you want to give an employee additional responsibilities, it should be a non-negotiable that a salary increase or position advancement comes along with those added responsibilities.
If your goal is to keep your good employees working with your company, it’s crucial that you stay abreast of their needs and wants career wise. In most situations, a highly skilled employee will be able to find another position, so you must consider what you need to do to keep them with your company.
Understand that you are working with people. People who have families. People who have personal lives. People with dreams, wishes, and goals. People with feelings.
When you keep that at the forefront of your mind, you will treat your employees like real people and your good employees will recognize your humanism and be more likely to stay around.
When you treat them like they’re disposable, they will dispose of their position and find another.
As you work to ensure your employees remain within your company, it’s also vital that you keep employee engagement high. It is one of the key factors to maintaining low turnover rates within a company.
If you’re searching for a resource that will help you maintain a workforce that is highly engaged, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement which features best practices for getting your employees involved in your company’s success.
The term strategic planning is frequently used in business, but you might find yourself asking, “what is strategic planning?”
Implementing strategic planning sets a business up for success. If you analyze the name, strategic planning is simple. It’s a process of planning the actions you take in your business strategically instead of making decisions on a whim or duplicating the efforts of other successful companies. However, there’s a bit more to strategic planning than meets the eye.
According to BusinessDictionary.com, strategic planning is “a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them.”
To develop a full understanding of what the strategic planning process is, let us discuss the three steps further.
As a business, you must have an idea of how your business will look in the future. How will your business operate six months, one year, or five years down the road? What will your business structure be? How many employees will you have? What will your profit be each year? Without the ability to conceptualize a future for your business creating a strategic plan is unattainable.
Once you have a vision for the future, it’s time to make specific goals to help that vision come to fruition. The best way to set goals is to make sure they’re SMART. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
An example of a SMART goal is, I will increase my consulting clients by 25% within the next 12 months.
It is specific and measurable because I can determine if my clients increased by 25% within 12 months by analyzing my metrics.
It is attainable because I set a reasonable goal.
It is relevant because the goal relates to my business.
It is timely because a realistic time frame is included.
Once you have your vision and your SMART goal, it’s time to develop a strategy to reach your objective. This is done by creating a step by step action plan.
Using the SMART goal I developed in step 2, if my goal is to increase the number of consulting clients I sign by 25% within 12 months I must
Creating specific action steps takes your vision from an idea to a goal to reality.
Completing the three-step process of strategic planning leads to numerous advantages in your business. Below you will find five significant benefits of implementing strategic planning.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Employment Dynamics, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 50% fail by their fifth year, and only 30% of companies make it to their 10th anniversary.
Having a strategic planning process in place increases the likelihood that you are making decisions that will lead to the long-term success of your business. Your vision, goals, and plan of action are all surrounding the ultimate goal of your company advancing, therefore increasing longevity.
When you have a specific vision with SMART goals and an outlined plan, there should never be a question of where your business is heading. Having a sense of direction will guide all of the decisions you make in your business. You will be able to effectively steer yourself and your employees as you make day to day decisions, increase efficiency and proactively work towards your goal.
Many businesses are suffering from copycat syndrome. They see other seemingly successful companies and copy their techniques without determining whether they best suit their business model. This leads to look alike companies being created.
However, when you develop a strategic plan for your business that’s unique to your vision and your goals, you are free to develop specific steps that work for you and you alone. You are free to show your marketing genius and creative ideas to reach your optimal level of success. Straying from the pact will set you apart from your competitors and provide you with a unique selling proposition.
In developing your strategic plan, you are developing measurable SMART goals. Because the goal is measurable, you can track your progress quickly and determine whether you are moving toward that ultimate vision. Evaluating progress helps you to identify strengths and weaknesses in your business, strategy, and employees. Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses helps you to make decisions regarding additional supports you might need to bring on board or strengths you should utilize more as you work to reach your goal.
As a business owner, you are frequently inundated with tasks. The goal is to focus on the most critical tasks first. Having a strategic plan will help you to identify the tasks that are most important and likely to move you toward your ultimate vision. Those priorities are where the majority of your time, energy, and effort should be spent. When you lack priorities and view everything on your to-do list with the same urgency, you are failing to optimize your time effectively.
Strategic planning is more than just creating a plan for your business. It can be the difference between reaching your 10th anniversary, or not making it past year 5. With a world full of competition in every arena, it’s important to set your business apart and prepare your business for success. Implementing strategic planning helps you to reach your goals the SMART way.
When developing your strategic plan, employee engagement and support is a non-negotiable. If you’re searching for a roadmap to increase employee engagement, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement here. It’s packed with strategies you can implement to ensure you and your employees are on the same path to business success.
A very dear friend reached out to tell me she was hosting a 14-Day Examine Your Why Challenge. I graciously accepted the challenge. Truth be told, this challenge came at a very good time for me. You see, I’ve fallen off the “why wagon”. My poor blog has been neglected. I have been suffering from shiny object syndrome. Running from here to there, trying to be everything to every one and I lost sight of my mission. Has this ever happened to you?
Little did I know that when I accepted my friends challenge, it would be more than just examining my “why”. I felt called to begin writing on my blog again. Day 1 already has me thankful that I decided to examine my “why”. Here are some thoughts that came out of my time of reflection:
What are the 3 biggest barriers keeping you from reaching your ultimate dream?
I took a while to reflect on this. Here’s what I came up with.
I appreciate this challenge for giving me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track. I’m excited to see what the next 2 weeks brings. Have you been lacking focus? Do you need a kick in the pants? Let us know what you do when you’ve fallen off the “why wagon”.