he success of a business is only as good as the people leading it. Bad leaders produce unproductive work environments and stagnant growth. In contrast, great leaders can develop trust, engage employees and fast-track success.
When it comes to successful business leaders, these are five of the top identifiable characteristics they commonly share:
1. A Clear Vision
Renowned business executive Jack Welch said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
If you don’t have a clear and engaging vision of where you want your company to go and what you want to accomplish, you can’t expect others to follow suit. Employees need a common goal that they can get behind to feel a sense of belonging and usefulness.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Have a distinct organizational direction and purpose
- Inspire loyalty through employee involvement
- Be a reflection of the company’s strengths, values and culture
2. Strategic Thinking
A study of 10,000 senior executives revealed 97 percent chose strategy as the most critical leadership behavior to their organizations’ success. This echoes various research that strategic thinkers are among the most effective leaders.
A few basic fundamentals for strategic thinking include:
- The ability to make decisions
- Stopping to look around at all the perspectives
- Developing an action plan with specific goals and tasks
- Knowing when to be flexible
3. Strong Communication Skills
Communication is a collaborative, two-way street. Having good communication skills also means being able to engage in active listening and knowing how to effectively respond. A strong communicator needs to be able to think clearly and share information with the masses.
While employees shouldn’t expect to be included on the full extent of business operations, leaving everyone completely in the dark is never a good idea. Great leaders communicate well and often. In order to improve communication, you should:
- Be authentic and sincere
- Show up and be visible
- Walk the talk
- Simplify communication to be direct
To be clear, the essence of humility does not mean the absence of ego. It’s merely being self-aware of your ego and utilizing your ambition for the betterment of the company. Without a little humility, it can be extremely difficult for your business or team to grow.
A research paper concluded that higher levels of humility lead to, “higher rates of employee engagement, more job satisfaction and lower rates of turnover.”
Part of being humble includes the ability to admit mistakes and to recognize others for their achievements. A few ways Harvard Business Review suggests getting started are:
- Sharing your mistakes as teachable moments
- Participating in dialogues, not debates
- Embracing unity
- Empowering others to lead
5. Ability to Build Relationships
The ability to build relationships is one of the most identified characteristics among many successful business leaders. Why? A successful business is built on trust and relationships.
Extensive research suggests that without this ability, your business will suffer. For example, two-thirds of respondents in a comprehensive research study by the Center for Creative Leadership said building and maintaining relationships is a vital competency. Additionally, Tolero Solutions found 45 percent of people note “lack of trust in leadership” as the biggest issue impacting their performance.
Just like any relationship, work relationships must have trust to be successful. Some key habits for forming better relationships include:
- Listening, not just hearing
- Being open and sharing whenever possible
- One-on-one interactions
- Maintaining a positive and productive attitude
Keep in mind, leadership is a constant work in progress. No successful business leader started out that way. By recognizing your weaknesses and transforming them into strengths, you can slowly cultivate these characteristics within yourself.