Entrepreneurial leaders: the Right Stuff

What makes a successful leader? In my book it’s not a manager who just gets the job done … leading is not merely doing. In my career I have come across many managers but very few leaders; this is what I think defines a real leader.

Leaders are usually excellent communicators and their ability to encourage and entice people along with them, clearly articulating their vision, is fundamental to their success. They don’t generalise, they’re not ambiguous, they don’t rely on unspoken signals that can lead to misunderstanding, conflict and the poor performance that inevitably results. You know where you stand and what they want of you.

They’re supporters of their staff. Clear goals come from their communication, but then they also help to identify and remove the obstacles in the way of these goals, including providing the resources that staff need to get their jobs done. In short-they are facilitators smoothing the way and providing the resources necessary for their team to deliver results. 

Mistakes are part of business life, and leaders don’t reprimand staff who take risks that don’t pay off. They work with staff to analyse what went right and what when wrong, then support the employee in developing a way to correct the problem. There is no blame, recriminations or punitive action as the leader realises that without taking a (calculated) risk, then there is no way to progress. Inevitably trying new things means that mistakes will be made-that’s part of being in business. However, truly great leaders accept that this will happen, yet they don’t castigate or seek to blame.  They have the ability to celebrate effort and recognise that it is essential in order for an organisation to learn and grow. It’s positive feedback, not negative criticism that gets results. Entrepreneurial leaders want to learn from their mistakes-not find and punish a ‘scapegoat’.

Most importantly they encourage risk-taking: without taking calculated risks, the status quo is inevitable and neither the business nor the staff can grow. A leader demonstrates this in everything they do. A successful leader believes in himself and has vision: strong confidence that comes from years of learning, trying, experimenting, failing, succeeding, and always growing. A real leader backs himself and encourages employees to do the same. At the same time, a leader doesn’t hide failure, personal faults or mistakes, and they never blame someone else. It’s a leader’s ability to believe they can turn around a negative situation by careful examination, including input from others that sets them apart. A real leader does things differently-that’s why they are successful.

Creating an atmosphere of trust and support that encourages others to grow is fundamental to true leadership. No one person has all the answers, and leaders know that. Motivational techniques play a part in improving employee performance, and the rise in productivity and job satisfaction results in company growth. 

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