5 characteristics of a strong business leader

People management takes a certain set of skills and qualities to get right. While the tactics used by business leaders vary from place to place, there are key characteristics that can be found in the most successful managers. Taking these into consideration can enormously improve your approach to team leadership. Here we discuss the five common characteristics of a strong business leader:

#1 – An ‘open door’ policy

The most successful business leaders are those who listen to, and act upon the suggestions of their team. An ‘open door’ policy may mean, quite literally, leaving your office door open for employees to grab your attention, and collaborate with you.

This tactic can apply to all settings, and simply means making yourself available to employees for collaboration, suggestions, support, and advice. While this sounds like obvious practice in the modern workplace, it’s still quite common to see an unnecessary divide between management and their team-members.

Removing this divide does not impact management-employee respect, but simply gives your team more creative input on projects, and a wider network of support. This will help to boost engagement, employee morale, and even staff retention.

#2 – The ability to compromise

While steering the ship is a big part of being a strong business leader, it’s also important to compromise when necessary. This means listening to the advice/ideas of your team – making changes to your practice and policy to reflect this.

Strong leaders are often great thinkers, meaning they develop and believe in their own ideas. While this is a great trait to have, it’s important to recognise when compromise may be the best option to reach business goals. You must be willing to adapt your ideas to reflect the opinions of your colleagues; stubbornness is infamous for creating workplace division.

Show your employees that you’re listening; take their ideas on board, and make democracy a key part of your business strategy. This helps to drive engagement and ambition within your workforce.

#3 – Knowing how to support, but not micro-manage

There’s a fine line between effective management and micromanagement. While supporting your employees is important, interfering too much with their day-to-day duties is often counterproductive.

To become a strong business leader, it’s important to have faith in your colleagues’ skills and talents. Offer advice when needed, but promote independence; don’t attempt to do your employees’ jobs for them.

Human beings are capable of learning from their mistakes; allowing your employees the independence to make these is a crucial part of their development. Find the correct balance of managerial support – don’t allow this to become micromanagement.

#4 – Leading from the head, not the heart

We’re all strong believers in our own ideas – it’s what makes human beings natural leaders. The difference between natural leadership and strong leadership, however, is the ability to manage tactically – rather than through sheer passion (from the head, not the heart).

Part of this is the ability to compromise; understand when your ideas may face practical challenges, and be willing to collaborate with others to overcome these. It’s crucial to take realism over your ideals – optimism is always important, but don’t let it get in the way of reaching achievable, though less desirable goals.

#5 – The ability to unite employees around a goal

It’s common for large, or even smaller teams to have conflicting ideas internally. Being a strong business leader means uniting employees around the same goal, no matter how their practical opinions may contrast.

People will always have different ideas about how to reach a certain goal. Your job is to reach a compromise that not only keeps the team happy, but ensures that goals are met effectively. Conquering division is crucial for productive collaboration – strong leaders have the ability to do this effectively without creating further conflict.

Read more: how to increase worker productivity

In summary

Strong leadership requires a certain set of skills and qualities from an individual. While management tactics may vary, strong business leaders often share similar qualities in how they approach their roles.

Some qualities that make a strong business leader include:

  • An ‘open door’ policy
  • The ability to compromise
  • Knowing how to support, but not micro-manage
  • Leading from the head, not the heart
  • The ability to unite employees around a goal

For more tips on how to manage/target employees to promote success – take a look at this in-depth HR management guide.

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