Leaders in business command respect and high salaries while setting the agenda for the future of the companies they work for. This is an enviable position to be in, and it is something that is achieved through hard work and foresight.
Though some leadership qualities are inherent in certain people, most leadership qualities can be and need to be acquired intentionally. Here are some methods to acquire strong leadership skills.
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Benefits of strong business leadership
Businesses are large, organic organizations that need direction and strategy. Leaders are put in place in senior positions to direct the purpose of a business and to coordinate the many employees that perform the work that makes a business profitable for its shareholders. Shareholders understand the need for strong leadership, and will appoint individuals in senior positions that can be decisive and confident, commanding respect.
Leaders with the right qualities can motivate employees to perform at their best. Motivated employees contribute an outsize amount of work to a business, stay with a business for longer periods of time, and make the hiring of new talent easier. Management teams with strong leadership skills will also be better able to make sensible long-term strategic decisions, evaluating the business environment, including competitors, to decide which direction a business should take.
Qualities that make a good business leader
Experts in management have identified the important qualities that make for good leadership. The ability to communicate is one of the most important qualities that a leader needs – knowing what you need to accomplish is one thing, communicating this to a team is an entirely different task. An ability to persuade is part of good communications skills, as often in a leadership position, you would need to convince others of your point of view.
Delegating is another important quality that leaders need. Instead of attempting to do everything yourself, good leadership shows a willingness to let others take on tasks where possible, leaving you to take care of matters on a managerial level. Confidence in yourself and in your team is another important quality as you need to feel sure that your objectives are achievable – and act in a reassuring manner towards your fellow workers.
How to gain these qualities
It is important to understand that leadership skills and qualities are very much attainable. You can change from someone who follows directives to someone who is a leader, but it takes time and concerted efforts. One of the best ways to gain leadership skills is to be mentored by another leader. This is why many companies have mentorship programs where leaders train and direct younger team members to gain managerial skills.
Experience is another essential part of becoming a leader. It can be gained by simply watching others lead, but more importantly by taking small steps on the leadership ladder. This could involve leading a small team in a larger organization, or trying to organize social activities outside of work. Remember that becoming a leader is an incremental process – you grow your leadership skills in a step-by-step manner over many years.
Getting a business education
Perhaps one of the most important qualities that a leader has to show is that they are well informed. Confident, strategic decision-making and the ability to persuade come from having a very good understanding of business affairs. A business education is an excellent way to boost your ability to understand the business environment, and to build arguments about the issues that your business is finding itself in.
For a lot of very senior leadership positions, a formal business education is essential. A Master of Business Administration degree is key to achieving top business leadership positions – for example, Maryville offers an MBA in supply chain management that prepares candidates for senior business roles. Leadership authority can easily be undermined when an individual suffers from gaps in business knowledge and understanding, and a formal business education can go a long way to closing any skills and knowledge gaps.
Plan your career in leadership
If you have decided that you would like to be in key business and social leadership positions, you need to plan the route that you are going to follow to get to the top. Study the careers of successful leaders by reading biographies, and look for the leadership qualities that you find particularly attractive. Take part in activities that will build on your leadership skills, such as attending networking events and organizing social activities. Consider doing a formal business degree and, if possible, seek out mentorship.