Leaders: Their Role and Impact on Business
It is an open secret that modern business leaders have to play many roles and serve multiple audiences.
They wear different hats at the same time but communicate one primary vision.
Most importantly, they have to ensure that their leadership style and decisions provide proper guidance to their followers and subordinates.
Jack Welch of Jack Welch Institute lists some important roles of a leader in this video.
People also expect effective business leaders like you to have qualities like decisiveness, self-awareness, fairness, enthusiasm, integrity, and creativity and innovation, and other essential attributes. These attributes are difficult to maintain for a long time, but a leader cannot succeed without them.
Some of the leadership roles are applicable to every situation regardless of the type of the industry, the size of the organization or whether it is a public or private business.
The leader is not born with all these qualities and therefore, he has to learn them as he grows in stature. Apart from learning, they must continually develop and practice these skills to stay relevant in the industry.
The primary responsibility of any kind of a leader is to solve the problems. Leadership is the process of leading and encouraging employees to attain your business goals and objectives. Leadership also plays a pivotal part in enhancing employees’ performance and productivity.
You, as a business leader, must perform many different duties as the need may be. You must be regular and always ready to adapt.
You can be a communicator, a thinker, a decision maker, a team builder, and an image builder at the same time. You must learn everything you need to do to develop a strong and happy team, reach your goals, and succeed as a leader.
Jack Zenger proves that great leaders can double profits for their business in his article published in Forbes. He further explains his point with the help of the following chart.
People generally think a company achieves success because of its business strategy.
Although the business strategy does contribute heavily to the success, yet there are many other reasons which amount to the rise of an organization and strong leadership is one of them.
It is also a fact that people do not follow “a leader” but someone they want to follow. It may sound like a paradox, but unless you have personal charisma, ambition or dumb luck, you cannot lead successfully.
Catherine Hill, the Human Resource Specialist at the Worksense Solutions states that:
“We sometimes think great Leadership requires great charisma, and although that certainly helps to sell a story, it is not enough, or even essential. At a very basic level, a great Leader clearly articulates what is required, and then does what they say they will do.
It is so simple, yet so frequently ignored. If you want to lead, if you want people to follow you, they have to see that you will do what you say you will do.”
THE ROLE OF A BUSINESS LEADER
A business leader is just like a chameleon.
On any given day, you may be a strategic thinker inspiring your employees to embrace your vision.
Then you can morph into a team builder striving to bring the best possible talent to your business.
The very next moment, you may take up the role of a decision maker helping your business to advance. In essence, all the leaders are good storytellers playing key roles to ensure the growth and progress of their organizations.
After going through the profiles of a number of highly successful business leaders, the following are some common duties performed by all of them irrespective of their age, gender, location or size of their company.
A Business Leader is an Analyst
A business leader should also be an astute analyst. You must have the ability to comprehend what is going around not only in your organization but in your industry as well.
Similarly, you must analyze everything deeply and acutely to keep your business in order and prevent any disaster. It is also imperative for you to review the efficiency and the progress of your business as well as your core activities.
Being a business leader cum analyst also means it is your job to review your financial situation and conduct a competitive analysis on regular occasions.
You also have to conduct customers’ and market analysis from time to time. Finally, you will use all the knowledge and data acquired through these analyses to redefine your business strategy and goals.
A Business Leader Structures His Business
It is also the role of a leader to properly structure his business.
In fact, the structure of an organization can have a huge effect on its overall growth.
Therefore, it should be your priority to find the best possible organizational structure for your business. For instance, owners of small businesses tend to favor horizontal structures with a wide span of authority and fewer management layers.
You must start contemplating about a more robust leadership and organizational structure the moment you think of expanding your business.
For example, smaller organizations generally go for traditional vertical structures when they start growing and hiring more employees.
The characteristic feature of these structures is the organizational hierarchy with more management layers.
Every type of organizational structure has its merits and demerits. You can choose any structure you deem fit for your organization.
Some of the factors you should consider while making this decision are the company’s culture, size, goals, and vision.
You as a business leader should have enough experience and foresight to pick or even create the best structure for your business.
You Need to Conceive Ideas and Future Projects
Leaders conceive ideas and initiate projects for future growth. You can solicit help from your colleagues and subordinates, but it is you who have to determine whether or not to proceed with a project.
Similarly, you also have to take responsibility for your actions rather than blaming others if the project fails to achieve its objectives.
It is also important for you to forecast future business trends to set the right direction of your business. To lead your business effectively and successfully, you have to stay on top of the looming changes, evolving technologies, and your competitors.
Keep studying the industry for the potential changes and plan in advance about how to tackle them.
Don’t forget that business forecasting is not a one time process. It can be short term, spanning only over a couple of years to long term stretching over 5 years to a decade.
A Business Leader Needs to Communicate
Effective communication is the greatest strength of some of the most successful business leaders. They use all levels of communication to reach out to every stakeholder, customers, and members of the staff.
They also strongly promote and encourage the exchange of information within the organization.
All types of communication channels such as online, written and verbal communication used by business leaders happen to be consistent and clearly define what the purpose of their organization is.
The following is a wonderful video by Nike Academy, which explains the relationship between communication and leadership.
Successful business leaders also have their own unique style of communication. It is honest, fair and open. They can easily adapt their communication style to almost every situation and any kind of audience.
These leaders do not impose their point of view on others but listen to everyone, including those who oppose them.
True leaders also make necessary changes in their direction and communication style as the need arises.
A Business Leader is Also a Thinker
You cannot become an effective leader if you are not a strategic thinker.
Some of the main responsibilities of a leader involve understanding how different sections of the organization work together.
You have to comprehend how your organization can react to both internal and external changes.
It is also the primary function of the leadership to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its business, recognize the opportunities it has, and the threats it is facing. This is only possible if you have the ability to think strategically.
Strategic thinking also requires you to gauge the influence of current and future economic and business predictions on strategic business objectives.
Also, remember that the operational business goals should never be in conflict with your strategic goals.
Above all, you must keep a close eye on your current and potential competitors and try to counter their strategies with the policies of your own.
A Leader is a Decision Maker
Effective decision making on the part of leadership is essential for the survival of any business.
You are under the obligation of developing a consistent approach towards problems solving and business analysis to improve overall decision making within your organization.
Similarly, it is imperative for you to evaluate the impact of the decisions you are going to make on all the stakeholders.
Effective decision making also involves drawing on your own experience and knowledge as well as the collective knowledge and experience of your team.
This is, in fact, the easiest method to recognize current and potential problems and make unanimous decisions about how to solve them. It will also make sure the final decision or solution fully compliments your organization’s vision and mission.
A Leader is a Team Builder
Happy and fully engaged teams are an integral part of any business. Once again, it is the leader who digs out individuals from different backgrounds and experiences and groups them as a team.
If you are a leader, you must also ensure that you keep your team informed of all the decisions, plans, developments and issues for them to be engaged and effective.
Continuously providing feedback about whether or not they are doing their job the right way is yet another great technique to keep them happy and motivated.
Learn why team building is important to become a good leader.
Individuals are more likely to respond to the strategic business goals meaningfully if you let them work with other like-minded people. Appreciating employees for their contribution is also part of the effective team building process.
Team members also expect you to fully recognize and admire their work. Another thing you can do is to regularly review their performance and appropriately recognize it to make them feel more confident in their abilities.
Members of a highly motivated team also receive regular feedback from their leader. Moreover, Provide them with equal development and growth opportunities as well as incentives to boost their morale.
On the other hand, empowering them to excel in their areas of specialty and fueling their creativity will also result in more employees’ participation and initiatives.
The following graph shows how good leaders increase engagement for their employees and their employee’s employees too.
A Leader is an Image Builder
A leader has to do a number of things to build a good image for himself and his organization.
Achieving the highest level of personal success in addition to driving employees’ growth requires you to consistently demonstrate professionalism, integrity, and fairness.
You can also command respect by being more accommodating to the individual as well as collective needs of your employees. Being responsive, open-minded and truthful about your own professional problems will also build your credibility.
Only demand extraordinary performance from your employees if you can lead them from the front. Sitting idle in your office and expecting them to do all the work is not going to produce the results you want.
In a highly effective organization, a high level of performance is observed across the board. The leaders and the senior managers do as much work as the junior managers and the general staff.
Lastly, always remain open, ethical and above board in your business and personal dealings. It is the only way to improve your influence and credibility and build trust with your team members and peers.
A Leader Humanizes the Business
While the main focus of a manager is the business, a true leader always works for people’s welfare. A successful leader like Bill Gates, Jack Ma, and Jeff Weiner has strong ties with fellow leaders and their own employees and this is what you need to do.
No one is asking you to be unprofessional and go out of the way to support people. In fact, you have to respond to their issues without compromising professionalism.
A good leader achieves this by showing concern for the employees’ problems or recognizing them for good performance.
The enhanced focus on people ultimately results in better customer care and support as well.
A Leader Builds Bridges
Building bridges between different sections of the organization is the leader’s greatest responsibility.
No matter how hard you try to keep various sections connected, a time comes when the team members get too focused on their jobs or their respective sections.
This is the time when you have to remind them of the collective business goals and objectives and what they are working for.
For instance, asking various sections to partner with each other while creating a new product will improve mutual coordination and cooperation.
Last but not least; leaders create the company’s vision and mission. They also help and enable their employees to understand both of them and work towards achieving a common goal.
A company without a clear vision is just like a ship without sails.
As a matter of fact, you can end up making poor decisions and stifle the business’s growth if you do not have any plans for the future. However, setting a vision is not enough.
Your employees will find it really hard to embrace it if it is not SMART and practical.
For example, your company’s mission is to “sell one million units of cars in the next 5 years.” It is a very detailed and practical vision. You can also assign different parts of your vision to different departments.
In this particular case, the manufacturing department will have to manufacture one million cars during the next five years.
The public relations departments will observe popular automotive trends before you can launch the new model.
Finally, the marketing and sales department will be responsible for promoting the new car in the market and attracting more customers.
This particular video elaborates how leaders can align the company’s vision with its goals.
A Leader Encourages Continuous Learning
Each employee in your organization has something to teach, regardless of his experience and seniority level. A good leader has an in-depth knowledge of how his business works.
He tries to learn more and more about every employee in his organization instead of only considering them as laborers.
In simple words, you have to show a greater interest in the welfare and betterment of your employees.
A real business leader also considers mistakes as part of experiential learning. Instead of admonishing people for any mishap, a leader understands that mistakes are an opportunity to learn new things.
Similarly, leaders also foster innovation and creativity within their workplace, strongly believing in the idea that they help people develop existing and new skills.
Similarly, a leader also provides promising leaders with every opportunity to grow and flourish.
Introducing a culture of learning and exploring has become ever so important in the modern business world. It is no longer enough to just keep up with others if you wish to have a “face-paced” working environment.
The desire to constantly improve your existing skills and acquire new ones will also enhance collaboration and creativity among your employees in addition to creating a fun and high-performance workplace.
THE IMPACT OF GOOD LEADERSHIP ON THE BUSINESS
We have already discussed some of the most important roles a leader has to play.
Moving forward, we will highlight some of the ways in which a good leader can have a positive impact on the overall performance and results of a business.
The following video explains how to have a positive influence and impact on your business.
A company, no matter big or small, needs good leadership to flourish.
There is no second opinion about that. But, what type of leadership is “good” for your own business?
In general, a good leader is the one who lifts the company from the shambles, empowers it to take on the challenges it is facing and enables it to move forward in the right direction.
If you are a leader who does not have the required skills, you will not succeed in effectively motivating your employees.
The obvious outcome will be poor performance and the failure to attract new customers. Ultimately, your company will start declining and vanish from the horizon with the passage of time.
Good leaders are always aware of the fact that their personal success depends upon the success of their companies and employees.
Therefore, they provide them with every opportunity to excel and shine in their roles. These leaders work as a part of the team and focus on achieving the common goals.
How to be a Successful Leader
There are many things you can do to become successful.
For instance, successful leaders recognize the value of teamwork and making the most of everyone’s skills.
You simply cannot win the respect and trust of others if you are not willing to work with your team to achieve a collective objective.
Different members of the team have varied traits and personalities. It is advisable to accommodate these differences instead of driving everyone with the same stick. Approachability is another hallmark of great leaders.
You must make it easier for your customers to contact you. They should also be confident that you will lend an ear to their problems and solve them.
Employees should also feel easy and relaxed whenever you are around. It will also make it more convenient for you to motivate them to carry on their duties diligently.
Here is a brilliant infographic explaining how you can become a successful leader.
Lead by Example
Leading by example is the best method to have a greater impact on your business. You partners, employees, and all other stakeholders will constantly observe your strategies and policies.
They will never stop gauging your commitment to your work and organization.
You also have to take accountability for your decisions and actions and learn from your mistakes. Good leaders never hesitate to commit that they have made a mistake. Later on, they also leave no stone unturned to rectify the error.
Good leaders are never afraid of taking calculated risks. Leaders’ true test of abilities and strength are the situations that demand immediate and tough decisions.
A great leader will never dither in such circumstances. He makes quick, solid and sometimes dangerous decisions which an ordinary leader cannot even think about.
A skillful and determined leader will always stand firm about his decisions as well.
While it is not necessary to be part of all the business operations, it is important for you to always participate in the planning process.
Attending important business meetings will further motivate your employees and boost their morale.
Another characteristic of a good leader is that he or she encourages all the team members to give their best for organizational development and success.
You cannot have any influence or impact on your business if you have a questionable character. All the good leaders we know today have exemplary character, to say the least.
You as a leader need to live your life with integrity and honesty if you want others to respect you.
People should also be able to trust you.
As it is often said, a good leader is always a man of his words. Therefore, never back off from your promises and words.
Otherwise, you will lose your right to leadership. It is your trustworthiness and good character which compels people to trust and respect you. It is as simple as that.
You must master the art of clear communication if you want your company to reach new heights of success.
In this regard, hearing what your employees have to say will go a long way in ensuring that you give directives which actually drive results.
Leaders listen with empathy, address concerns, respond to questions and above all, solve others’ problem to gain their trust.
Another essential characteristic of great leadership is the desire and vision to break out of the ordinary and normal.
Such leaders do not only aim at higher things, but they also take practical steps to get what they want.
Foreseeing what is achievable and attaining one goal at a time to get to the final destination is the main quality of good leaders.
By doing so, they also bring a positive change to others’ lives as well.
Some of the very best leaders in the world are highly optimistic and a source of constant inspiration and energy for their followers.
They are genuinely concerned about the welfare of their employees and the general public.
They are always available and intrinsically helpful. They know how to motivate, inspire and reassure others. They have the uncanny ability to find a solution to any problem no matter how complex it is.
They never let pessimistic thinking and personal criticism get even close to them. They keep on looking for new ways to build consensus and to get people to work together.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Strong leaders treat people according to their personality, thoughts, and requirements. They are among the most ethical people you will ever find. They strongly believe you cannot achieve success without reliability, effort, and honesty.
In fact, not even a single employee can doubt their integrity because they embody these principles so overtly and vehemently. They avoid spin control and share the information openly with everyone.
Obviously, there are many other ways a leader can influence his business.
There are plenty of leadership styles which different people have adopted to gain unprecedented success.
All these styles incorporate different leadership skills and qualities.
Regardless of the style you choose, you will be in a better position to lead your team successfully if you display any or all of the traits listed above.