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Effective Leaders

What Makes a Good Leader?

Effective leaders are necessary to your business. What makes a good leader? And, if you consider leadership versus management; which is most important for a small business? A definition of leadership helps you understand the relationship between, and importance of, leaders and managers to your business.

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Leadership versus management: which one is more important to your business? Effective managers and leaders are both equally necessary to a small business.

Leaders will ensure your future; managers will ensure your present (day-to-day operations). It's important to be able to define leadership types; and to define what types of leaders you need in your organization.

So What makes a Good Leader?

Define Leadership:
Some of the Qualities of a Leader

  1. Visionary, solutions-focused (as opposed to problems-focused), risk-takers.
  2. Creative and passionate about their vision. Able to communicate that passion and lead others in the direction they want to go. Skilled at active listening, which is really about listening for meaning, and then effectively using what they hear.
  3. Pro-active and results-oriented.
  4. Open to discussion, to varied perspectives, and committed to engagement of stakeholders.
  5. Focused on the future (not the past, and sometimes not even focused on the present).
  6. Leaders can be so far 'ahead of the pack' that they are challenged in working with others who don't share their vision or passion.
  7. Enjoy change: seeing change as a way of moving forward.
  8. Can be self-centered: they see the world around them from their own perspective, not the perspective of others. This can sound like a negative but we need some people with this perspective.
  9. Must be able to influence, or persuade, others to follow or support their lead.

In most businesses, it would be good to have a mix of effective leaders and managers (and of course staff who would be led and managed). In a small business with staff, you probably need a team with about 20% leadership talent and the rest in management skills. You likely do not want too many leaders ... and not enough managers and followers.

What Makes a Good Leader?

Small business owners need to exhibit both good leadership qualities and management qualities. You need to be a visionary to start a new business, or develop a new product or service. You also need to be a good manager of people and of processes and events: planning, organizing, problem solving, directing and measuring the effectiveness of your actions and your business results.

To develop strength as a leader or as a manager, first complete a full assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. This is very much like a performance assessment - of yourself! Conduct a 360 degree evaluation (asking all those around you for honest, detailed, and likely anonymous, input into how they see you). Use that feedback (the good, the bad and the ugly), to work on an improvement plan.

Effective leaders often work with business mentors or with a small business advisor. An advisor or coach can help you to minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. To learn how to be a leader, attend leadership workshops. To learn how to be a better manager, go to management workshops. To be better at both; do something to improve!

If you don't feel you can improve in certain areas, or if you feel the constraint of time, see what areas of your work can be re-assigned or contracted out (for example, use a human resources consultant to help with hiring employees, developing job descriptions, and building performance development programs).

Define Leadership Styles

There are a number of styles and types of leaders: they range from charismatic, to transformational, to narcissist, to balanced, to transactional, to situational, and more. No matter what type of leader you are, you need to be able to lead in the environment you operate in.

Recognize that once you start the personal development process, you are not necessarily changed forever (behaviors are hard to change). Often you will revert to your old, unwanted but comfortable behaviors during times of stress. It is important that you become self-aware. Remember that a characteristic of effective leaders is being self-centered, and that must go hand-in-hand with self-awareness.

Recognize what causes you to revert to unwanted behaviors. Then develop tactics to help divert you from reversion: script your most wanted behavior, then practice it, visualize it; think of yourself as an athlete in-training.

Leadership versus Management?
Complementary or Contrasting?

Changing your behavior will feel awkward initially, but just like rehearsing a part in a play takes practice and many rehearsals, becoming a good leader AND a good manager takes effort and practice. Opening a small business, and running it, requires this amount of commitment. Understand what makes a good leader and what the differences are between leading and managing (it's not about leadership versus management, but leading and managing working together).

Effective leaders and managers run successful businesses.

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