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The importance of strong leadership to foster success cannot be under-estimated. Fortunately, the behaviours that effective leaders demonstrate can be emulated and learned.

Whether you are looking to hone your skills as a leader in your business or if you want to assist someone to take a lead role, here are some characteristics of effective leaders that have helped them take their businesses to the next level.

Seeing the big picture

It can be easy for a small business owner to get lost in the minutia of the day-to-day and quite hard to achieve the right headspace to maintain a broad perspective of the industry you work in and keep a high-level focus on your company direction.

Those who are successful in this cite learning to delegate as a critical tool. Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva and ProFounder, which provide micro-loans to entrepreneurs throughout the world, states “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

Forward thinking and planning

Once you are across the big picture it’s easier to think about how to grow your business into the future. Of course, part of forward thinking is translating your goals for the company into a concrete plan. As said by Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

An effective leader tends to make short and long-term goals and include their team members in setting these goals, asking for their input as to how these goals can be achieved which helps to increase their sense of accountability and engagement.

Getting the best from others

Great leaders understand that motivating others is an important aspect of leadership.

The late Queen Elizabeth II understood this, famously noting, “Some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration, to work together.”

In small business getting the best from people is about sharing a vision for the future of the business and empowering your staff to feel as though they are essential in your business’s pathway to success.

Setting the tone

A leader sets the tone for the organisation. It’s important to set the bar high, setting a positive example for everyone else in the company in terms of professionalism, drive, and enthusiasm.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky believes so strongly in modelling his passion and belief in their product he left his apartment in 2010 and has been staying in Airbnb accommodation ever since. Brian has been quoted as stating he believes in “living the core values all the time; when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall.”

Showing gratitude

The ability to motivate your team to strive to do their best is critical to small business success. A motivated team is happy to go the extra mile for you and your business. Acknowledging individuals for a job well done and expressing gratitude keeps employees engaged and motivated.

Richard Bransen, the flashy Virgin Group founder, is renowned for the way he celebrates the achievements of his employees. According to Branson, “When someone on your team has a big success, celebrate it and tell others. Success breeds success.”

Learn from mistakes

It is impossible for a business or a person to not make a mistake. Every great leader understands and acknowledges the fact that a mistake is an opportunity to do better next time. Failure equals success – if you learn from it! Encourage others to also not be afraid to make mistakes but to learn from them.

Elon Musk has led multiple innovative organisations, including PayPal, Neuralink, SpaceX, and Tesla – and had more than his share of failures. Musk says that the key to bouncing back from failure is to “fail intelligently.” The lesson from Musk is that failure is fine if you’re always learning, and the attempt is worth the risk.

Effective leadership is not something you can master overnight but these are skills worth fostering to support your business growth and success.

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