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Are You a Business Leader?

Fri, Jan 21, 2011

General Management

Being a leader is important for developing the entrepreneurial spirit that will lead you to be a business owner, business leader, or simply advance in your field. Some famous business leaders from the past and present are Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company), Sam Walton (Wal-Mart), Bill Gates ( Microsoft Corporation), and Steve Jobs (Apple). They possessed the desired leadership qualities that helped propel their businesses from fledging companies into the international spotlight. However, your goal need not be as grand as that. Good leadership skills will help anyone. But, are leaders born or made? Plus, how do you know if you are one?This is the classic question in the business world. The answer is neither, and yet, both. Certain people are born with biological or circumstantial inclinations to lead while others are not. However, both of those groups can benefit from leadership training to hone their ability to lead. Even natural leaders cannot practice their skills without the proper experience and training. Prestigious MBA programs around the country develop their programs specifically to instruct the future leaders of companies. Many local community colleges may also offer courses on leadership for people who are interested.

What are the Characteristics of a Leader?

A leader is someone who can:

  • Motivate people: motivating people around you is an important quality of a leader. A good leader should not coerce people to do what they want.
  • Influence: Good leaders will positively influence those around them to contribute to the team and participate in generating new ideas.
  • Change: change is happening all around us. Successful leaders will anticipate that change and create plans to deal with it instead of avoiding it.
  • Communicate: Leaders will communicate their ideas clearly to their team. They do not talk around the bush. They speak directly and do not avoid uncomfortable truths. Good leaders should also listen to their teammates. After all, a team is only as good as its members make it and that includes listening to everyone.
  • Understand: Leaders should have empathy for those around them. The people that comprise a team will likely have a variety of different personality types and a good leader should be able to understand the excitement and the anger as well as the hurt.
  • Network: A proficient leader should have the ability to build relationships and network with people and businesses around them.
  • Be aware: A leader should be aware of their own faults, moods, desires and understand how that can impact the team and their goal.
  • Surround themselves with good people: A leader should not look just for ‘yes men’ to be on their team. They should seek qualified individuals who have the experience required to benefit the team.

To see more on this subject, we recommend an article written by Daniel Goleman for The Harvard Business Review titled What Makes a Leader? In it he talks about bringing the topic of Emotional Intelligence to discussion on what really makes a good business leader. He also lists his five components of emotional intelligence.

Ultimately, the job of a leader is a complicated one, but it can be very rewarding at the same time. Do not feel discouraged if it takes some practice to develop good leadership skills. Most leaders have been learning their entire lives and continue learning every day.

By Sara Beck. Sara is an MBA student and loves to travel. She blogs at www.sarabeck.wordpress.com.

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