5 Important Lessons To Be A Successful Leader In Business
The business landscape has changed a lot in business. Today, there is more diversity than ever are in senior leadership positions in businesses of all shapes and sizes. Despite everything that has happened, it’s very exciting to see this.
Over the years, there was a misconception that certain characteristics and traits were required to be an effective leader and one’s that every person, male or female had to adapt in order to thrive.
As a woman in business however, I have found the opposite to be true. Leadership is multi faceted. It is sometimes feminine traits that provide us with advantages when it comes to growing our businesses, networking and becoming reliable leaders. Other times, it’s masculine traits.
If you keep an open mind about these differences and adopt a few, you may find your ability to operate effectively in business and life will be much higher.
1. Understanding limitations
Self-awareness, particularly of your limitations, flaws or weaknesses can be of significant benefit.
Those who take a more critical view of themselves can increase their competence and performance. Not being as overconfident enables women to better understand how they are viewed by others and identify their weaknesses and work on them.
Canadian entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary has noticed that setting realistic financial goals is great for a company’s morale and he has noticed that 95% of the women run businesses he has invested in hit their goal. Kevin says “that’s why women are doing better in business — they keep their people. The staff are sticky. They want to work there because they’re hitting their goals.”
2. Putting staff first
It was Richard Branson who famously said that employees come first, not customers. Look after your employees and they’ll look after your customers.
To manage a high-performing team, you need to put them before yourself. I consider leadership as an opportunity to help people unlock their full potential. I enjoy providing opportunities for my team to grow and develop professionally and personally. When they start work everyday, you always want your team to be motivated and determined to succeed. That starts with putting their needs first and giving them space to be successful.
This is confirmed by a well referenced article in Nature.com article titled ‘The dopaminergic reward system underpins gender differences in social preferences’ which says “Women consider leadership less as an individual accomplishment and more of a chance to support others.”
3. The ability to empathise
There used to be an idea that being too kind or caring as a leader stops your company from going further. Thankfully this belief has been debunked.
Modern-day leadership requires an ability to create an emotional connection with your team. Have a look at Bob Iger, the former CEO of Disney. He had built a strong reputation for being a kind leader who encouraged his team to be the best they could be.
Staff require validation, appreciation, and above all, empathy. These are all traits that women offer in abundance.
4. The ability to elevate others
I have noticed among my friends in business, that they often coach and mentor their staff, almost like talent agents. They use feedback and direction to develop their people, helping them to grow and achieve their goals. This goes hand-in-hand with the feminine trait of being more strategic in their employee relationships.
Women will be more likely to hire people who are more skilled as their egos are less likely to be an issue. This, coupled with the fact that they work to unlock the potential in others, leads to more cohesive and productive teams. Women promote cooperation which means higher levels of performance throughout the business.
I have noticed that a great way to improve the performance of both myself and my team is to maintain a less self-centred style of leadership.
5. Organisational skills and patience
Let’s face it. We’re all busy. We have families to care for, friends to socialise with, hobbies to pursue, basically a life to live. So being organised and patient is an important part of being a successful business leader.
In business, there is often the tricky task of client management. I’ve found that being patient and developing sound relationship building skills makes for a more pleasant experience with both clients and staff.
The increasingly diverse representation in leadership proves that these characteristics do work. The best forms of gender equality focus on a balance of talent and potential, which means men can learn different leadership strategies from women and vice versa.
I have found these personality traits provide enormous benefits for anyone in leadership and development roles, regardless of gender. Women make great leaders in business and I hope anyone reading this can use these lessons in their own leadership roles.