As a business leader, you can’t stay where you are and stay competitive. A good leader never fully arrives. The destination is always changing. A good leader will constantly evolve with the changing times.
Developing quality products, having good customer service and offering your clients good value are givens. Your business may have garnered a good reputation to-date, have loyal employees and devoted customers, but it can’t rest on those attributes. The competition is always a step behind.
Great Leaders Ask Good Questions
Good ideas are copied every day. Good employees are enticed to jump ship to work for the competition. You can be on top of your game one-day and sliding down a slippery slope the next. The competition that was once behind you might actually be gearing up to pounce on your customers. They may be on deck ready to release a more competitive product or service. A great business leader asks the right questions: Who’s behind us? Who’s ahead of us? How are we different? What sets our business apart? What are our competitors doing? Where are we headed? Do we need to diversify, and if so, how? Effective leaders are continuously on guard to threats and are always examining new opportunities. A good leader can never just stop and enjoy the view.
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Great Leaders Create the Right Climate
A great leader creates a climate where employees do more than exchange hollow glances with each other. There is a potential leader inside of everyone waiting to come out. Your next best products and ideas may come from your employees. If you want to take advantage of the valuable ingenuity of those you lead, you’re going to have to create an atmosphere for it to occur.
A great leader works towards building a community of authenticity and transparency where real dialogue occurs. An atmosphere of trust opens the doors to greater collaborative thinking. Good leadership is no longer about control. Keeping company information tightly under wraps is not conducive to building a community of organic growth. Show your employees how your business makes money and let them be part of the solution to increasing the bottom line.
A great leader entrusts his employees with details, listens to feedback and gives employees the chance to develop and execute their ideas.
Great Leaders Employ Emotional Intelligence Skills
Great leaders know that emotional intelligence (EI) is an important trait to have when leading today’s generation of workers. Emotional intelligence is the ability to empathize with and validate others. Everyone wants to feel understood and valued.
Empathy is not the same as sympathy, and is not coddling or prying. Empathy is the ability to relate to people with concern and kindness even if you don’t like them, can’t relate to their situation, or disagree with them. A leader uses EI skills when he asks for input and listens to the answers. A thoughtful leader compliments, encourages and shows consideration to both his clients and his employees.
Great Leaders Use Their Best Assets Well
In a downturned economy, it is tempting to assume that cutting your staff is the best way to meet the budget. But that’s like going backwards. Instead, a good leader will look at the strengths of his employees to discover new ways to use them.
A great leader involves his best employees in the solution-finding process. They want to keep their jobs as much as the business wants to stay afloat and remain profitable. Instead of layoffs, try using existing employees in other divisions or geographical locations until there is a market turnaround.
Diversification is sometimes another good option to help a business create a financial buffer. You might be able to provide a new product or service that generates more revenue from existing customers, or you may be able to target a completely different group of customers by offering a different set of products or services.
If you have confidence that you have the best people working for you right now, then tap into their knowledge and creativity and develop them as leaders. Ask them to give their input and share any ideas that may lead to innovative new products or services. Create an engaging environment that inspires inventiveness that might lead to the next business breakthrough.
Great Leaders Take Action
Far too many leaders spend more time thinking than doing. They strategize, hang up the mission statement and then carry on business as usual. The times are changing so rapidly, however, that businesses need constantly re-engineer themselves and take action.
A great leader does more than review and analyze existing processes. A great leader investigates innovative new approaches especially using new technology and methodology. Great leaders execute the right ideas and take risks.
Being a Great Business Leader Today
It’s an exciting time to be a business leader. New technologies are invented every day that quickly change the ways of doing business. To stay competitive requires staying on top of trends.
It’s important to see your products or services from your customer’s perspective and to stay a step ahead of them and a step ahead of the competition. It’s important to be able to predict what it is the customer will want or need next even before he knows he needs it.
To be a great leader, gather good people around you. Choose the right staff at every level. Create a climate that encourages free-flowing collaborative thinking. Make each person on your staff and every client feel valuable. Be an inspiration, and most importantly take action that involves risks.