The Art of Being a Good Business Leader
What makes a good business leader? What skills, qualities and attributes help business leaders succeed? Penny Webb, Founder and Managing Director of Familias and Company, shares her insight into what qualities are needed to succeed as a business leader. Penny has consulted and coached 65% of the FTSE 100 CEOs, as well as executives and family offices, across Europe, Middle East, Asia and the US.
Reflect Continuously – The ability to take time to reflect on your own strengths so that you can build on them. Reflection helps to build self-awareness and enable business leaders to grow based on what they are good at. As Penny says, “Find out what you aren’t good at and stop doing it.” In fact, leaders spend a total of 2-3 weeks per year for self-development. Working with a private coach can help enormously in this regard.
Have a Clear Vision of Success – Good leaders have a good idea what they want to do and set out on a journey to achieve these goals. They are also able to establish what personal and professional success looks like and work towards these goals. If leaders are not clear and consistent in their own goals, how can others follow? A good exercise for any leader is to consider themselves at 80 years of age, looking back on what they have done and whether or not that would provide them with the contentment they are looking for to ensure they have lived according to what is truly important to her or him.
Collaborate – Good leaders partner and collaborate with individuals who can enhance the overall competencies of the business rather than trying to do everything themselves. Moving into the collaborative space is beneficial to add to the overall focus on achieving the goals of the organization.
Engage with People – You can only be a good leader if people are prepared to follow you. Engaging with people is essential. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and ask others to help you in your quest for success. By displaying some vulnerability, you give others the opportunity to do the same and create a much more open working environment. Also, help others to identify their own life purpose and resist the temptation to hold onto employees because it suits you and the business. Let others grow and help them to do so.
Display Empathy – Clearly demonstrate that you have the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. “Ask more than tell, enquire more than you advocate,” continues Penny. “This is never more required than in a boardroom setting.” In fact, empathy is the last emotion that one typically develops (typically in the late twenties and early thirties).
Stimulate Creativity – Good leaders ask “what if” and do not accept the status quo. They make time during meetings to push the boundaries of accepted wisdom as an exercise in stimulating creativity. When all seems to be going well, good leaders recognize the need to test and recognize that acceptance of good performance is a dangerous practice.
Dismiss the Concept of a Work-Life Balance – Good business leaders recognize that it is impossible to separate work from day-to-day living because the reality is that everyone has to live when they are working. The key to success is developing a life that allows you to be authentic on a 24-7 basis. If a leader feels he has to leave part of himself at the door every Monday morning, something is wrong.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Be sure to check back for more insights on business leadership. In the meantime, share your thoughts on what makes a good leader below!