Business leadership is about directing the team to achieve a goal and setting a benchmark for others to follow. A business leader evolves over a course and is always on the learning curve. Outstanding business leadership is about maintaining the balance of different skills attained over time. What sets apart a business leader from others is his commitment to the goal and the way he exercises power to keep the culture conducive to growth. A business leader goes the extra mile and makes sure the team remains unaffected in times of uncertainty.
Many people reach high positions at a workplace, but not many can be identified as successful business leaders. There is a difference between being efficient and being an effective leader. While being efficient is important for any business, being practical is what makes a truly successful leader. To really understand what an effective leader means, one must understand that being a successful leader means the distribution of responsibility and means the distribution of reward and celebration. A leader will not succeed on his own. He needs a team that helps in building success.
"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success." - Henry Ford
The best leaders are those who build a team that acts as the foundation of success. All other business criteria can be built on this foundation. If the foundation is weak, everything built on top will eventually collapse, no matter how well they are executed.
Great communication, emotional intelligence, and decision-making are all traits of a successful business leader. But what is the core of this success?
"For values or guiding principles to be truly effective, they have to be verbs." - Simon Sinek
On any given day, a simple google search on the term "Business Leadership" will throw up tons of content on the types of leadership and the characteristics of most successful business leaders. Throwing in buzz words during an interview, a presentation, or even an important business meeting does not make one a successful and effective business leader. Amidst this information overload, the meaning of a 'Successful Business Leader' is still contended, and most of the literature on the subject is centred on varied management strategies. As an organization grows, management is essential to meet the project deadlines, stakeholders' expectations and align all business functions with the corporation's objectives.
Let's look at a simple yet common scenario: cutting down costs. For many years, cost-cutting has been one of the most common solutions businesses tend to pick to save money. And it works! But only for a short while. Companies can't cut costs forever to achieve continuous productivity. Cost-cutting, while effective at times, is not always a permanent solution. There is a huge difference between cutting costs and making a profit. A successful leader needs to know when each is required. This knowledge comes from understanding the team, understanding where each employee fits and making each employee more effective, which, in return, will increase profit. Therefore, cost-cutting will not be a necessity for the success of a business.
Another common cause is "under-performing" employees. Most companies take the easy route of letting go. However, successful leaders look for the hidden strengths and put these employees where they can shine. A simple transition of an employee from one place to another will not only benefit the employee. Still, it will also benefit the business as the employee will tend to give more and be more effective.
"The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." – Ronald Reagan.
On the contrary, it's the great leadership that models business function around the people's behavior to help attain the organizational goals. When it comes to leadership, Simon Sinek is often quoted, and much of his work is centred on the idea "Leaders Work for The People". Extrapolating on the same concept, if leadership is viewed from Maslow's hierarchy of needs context, outstanding leadership then boils down to creating a conducive environment where an employee's sense of belonging is higher. With an increase in employee engagement, the workspace culture fosters productivity and innovation.
Who Are Some Business Leaders?
Time and time again, the world has witnessed many great business leaders who have revolutionized the way we live. Many of these leaders have leadership styles of their own. From Steve jobs autocratic leadership to Andrew Carnegie's bold leadership. The world has witnessed varied types of business leaders who sometimes got on the nerves of their team members to get something executed. Today's business leaders employ a different kind of leadership; today's workplace demands empathy and concern for others.
In general, leaders are judged on the impact they bring to the world. Every leader has his way of dealing with things; it needs the participation of everyone to get things done. Great business leaders are those whose impact has revolutionized the way we live. Here is the list of business leaders who have achieved great things irrespective of their leadership style.
- Andrew Cargnie
- Henry Ford
- Steve Jobs
- Reed Hastings
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Ratan Naval Tata
What Do Business Leaders Actually Do?
Business leaders bring the team together, communicate the vision in actionable steps to the team, and guide the team to achieve the goal. The most sought-after business leaders inspire others, exercise authority to make the environment conducive for growth. Today's workplace demands a T-shaped business leadership, which means one who understands different business functions and their relevance to one another can effectively guide a team to achieve the goal.
For most business leaders, traits like empathy, communication are intrinsic, but it can be contended that leadership as a skill can be honed, and with time, the right environment and association, these leadership traits can be developed. Here are the four cornerstones of successful leadership
1. Agility - Know the Unknown
2. Compassion – Feel the Blind Spot
3. Integrity – Break the Breakthrough
4. Commitment – Lift the Heavyweight
Combining the four pillars below is the secret recipe for a successful business led by an effective, successful business leader.
"If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time." - Steve Jobs
In an ever-changing business ecosystem, wherein new interactions constantly reshape the stakeholders' expectations. It's ever more important to streamline agility along with all the business functions. In an agile culture, the ever-evolving market needs & customer demands are met head-on. In time, the leader extends training to support the workforce, encourages close collaboration, and promotes constant communication, thereby making the organization sail smoothly during disruptions or crises. Leadership agility all comes down to few key measures, and they are as follows;
* Knowing the team - being acquainted with the team's strengths is the key to unlocking a team member's true potential.
* Open to feedback - encouraging your co-workers or colleagues to share feedback about one's performance sets the stage for healthy conversation, out of which many ideas will flourish
"As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others" – Bill Gates.
Involving the team in decisions is crucial in running a successful business. Successful business leaders open their ears to ideas and listen to feedback. More often than not, the effective ideas come from those down the line and, in the field, who have hands-on experience and understand the business struggles.
By now, we all know the importance of having empathy in the workplace. Having positive intentions is necessary for creating relationships, and with relations comes collaboration which in turn enhances trust. Compassionate leaders are perceived to be competent and are always the go-to person among colleagues. Being compassionate about co-workers' concerns is an essential trait among successful business leaders. When employees feel that their leader genuinely cares, they will do everything in their power to give 100% effort and effectiveness.
* Effective communication is crucial to acquire trust, inspire to achieve goals, and bring positive change.
*Emotional intelligence - Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your own and others' emotions and how they drive behavior, and then using that knowledge to motivate others
Having self-awareness and understanding the emotions behind actions is one of the most challenging qualities of a true leader. An effective leader is aware of his own emotions and masters the art of controlling them. Channeling emotions in a healthy right direction is a skill taught in many institutes for the success of businesses worldwide.
The researchers have witnessed that in every strategic planning session that they have studied for large and small corporations, the first value that all the gathered executives agree upon for their company is integrity. They all agree on the importance of complete honesty in everything they do, both internally and externally. The core of integrity is truthfulness.
It has been expected by almost every employee that they expect their leader to always be truthful, to all people, in every situation. Truthfulness is the foundation quality of the trust that is necessary for the success of any business. Successful leaders need to respect an employee's honesty, even if it is not what they want to hear. This is the valid key to the true integrity of a successful leader.
*Self-Discipline - Along with building self-awareness and a profound understanding of your emotions, an excellent leader practices self-discipline and demonstrates poise—even in the most tiring circumstances.
*Attitude of gratitude - When a leader knows the strengths, flaws, and biases, he can reflect on these with a sense of gratitude. He can appreciate his skills and successes and the skills and values of others who work with him.
Great leadership demands conviction, and the most sought-after leader shows commitment and is always dedicated to the vision of the project. Commitment is not about vision alone, and it's about how a leader carries himself, it's about the perception he influences. To gain commitment from your employees, a successful leader will need to understand the employee's strengths and weaknesses and understand how to turn the weaknesses into strengths.
*Vision - This quality separates a great leader from a mediocre leader. Having a clear vision transforms the person into a successful leader. This nature of vision changes the "transactional manager" into a "transformational leader."
* Perception – Committed leaders face challenges head-on and pave the way for others to navigate, thereby creating a perception among co-workers.
After looking at each pillar individually, one can have an in-depth understanding of why each one of them is essential. The smart, effective leader can combine all four pillars and form a foundation for growth, effectiveness, and success. These four pillars are just the beginning of a long successful journey of performance and productivity.
Who Are The Best Leaders In Business?
Becoming a successful business leader is something that would take years of experience and hard work. Good business leaders are not born every day; they are rare commodities. The success of a business depends on its leader. They are a vital part of any business as they are the ones who have the power to drive the organization to success or failure. They are the ones who make sure that the employees working under them reach their potential. What makes a good business leader? Let's look at some of the best business leaders of this generation.
The founder of the Alibaba group and the first entrepreneur from China to appear on the cover of Forbes magazine. He was rejected countless times in his life, be it from university or the various jobs he would apply to. But due to his never-give-up nature, his resilient efforts helped him create a company that would have the record for the largest IPO in history.
Tim Cook took over Apple in 2011 after its founder, Steve Jobs, had lost his battle to cancer. Cook has done remarkably well as the CEO of the company since then. He helped the company in navigating a transitional phase and also developed a new line of products. He is one of the main reasons why Apple has been doing amazingly well in the market and continues to be a billion-dollar company.
Elon Musk is the founder of PayPal and SpaceX. He is also the CEO of Tesla. He is an entrepreneur, an inventor, and an investor. He is known for striving to revolutionize transport, not only on Earth but also in Space. His vision and passion for pushing the limits of technology make him one of the most successful people of all time.
The developer and the founder of the largest PC software globally, Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world. He invests in many philanthropic ventures and has promised to leave a good percentage of his wealth to charity. He also focuses on climate change, education, and global health.
The most successful investor of all time and the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet had started investing at an early age and has followed the mantra of value investing. He is one of the wealthiest people globally, yet he continues to live a humble life and has a down-to-earth attitude.
Business leaders have failed yet did not let their rejections get to them. They stood against all the odds and made it work with perseverance, belief, and hope. We can take these great leaders as listed above and use their stories as inspiration for our own life path. To never give up hope and persist to achieve our goals, dreams, and heart’s desires.
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