Think back to your school days.  Who was your favorite teacher?  What made that person so memorable?  Most likely, he or she possessed the qualities of a great leader.  You can become one as well if you acquire essential skills that will help you run your business more efficiently and build a strong team.

Here are some qualities of an effective leader:

  • Be a planner.  Frequent planning time is crucial to any business.  Great leaders are prepared for both daily and long-term responsibilities, which can only come from organized and prioritized planning.
  • Be proactive.  This comes from effective planning.  Identify and solve potential problems before they cause irreparable damage.
  • Be decisive.   As a leader, you make important decisions for your business all the time.  Although you don’t want to be hasty, you must make informed decisions and stand by them.  In doing so, your colleagues will respect your ability to take the reins.

In addition, great business leaders must build a dedicated team.  Here are some tips to help:

  • Listen carefully.  Chances are you already do this for your customers.  You encourage their feedback so that you can meet their needs.  The same applies to your team.  What ideas do they have?  What problems are they facing?  They should feel comfortable coming to you with these matters and will appreciate having an approachable leader.
  • Encourage communication.  Listening is just one part of communicating.  You also need to get everyone involved productively, and take action on their ideas. For example, when scheduling a meeting to plan new endeavors together, prepare an agenda beforehand and stick to it. After the meeting, touch base with your team regularly during the implementation of the idea. This is will allow everyone involved to be more productive.
  • Lead by example.  This is especially important for creating a positive atmosphere.  Teams will adopt your positive attitude and help create a strong morale.  When people enjoy what they do, they have unlimited potential for success.
  • Delegate tasks.  It may be hard to relinquish control at first, but you will show your team that you trust and respect them when you hand over some responsibility.  Learn their strengths, and offer support along the way.
  • Emphasize teamwork.  Your team members should know that everyone is working toward a common goal and that each person is vital to its realization.  The feeling of being part of something greater than any one individual can be very inspiring, so don’t be afraid to tap into that.
  • Take criticism.  This is an essential skill for any leader.  Look at constructive criticism as a gateway to self-improvement.  Sometimes it takes a step back in order to identify our own areas of weakness and improve.

Not everyone is a born leader, but dedicating yourself to these skills will be a valuable asset to your business.  Like students in that favorite teacher’s classroom, your team will work hard and produce quality results.

What traits do you believe a great leader must have?  Please share with us in the comments below!