7 characteristics that make for a great leader in business - Phil Fraser

With the Conservative leadership election process in full swing it got me thinking about the question in business; ‘What makes a great leader?’ The list is endless, but here’s my top seven features and characteristics of a great business leader.

With the Conservative leadership election process in full swing it got Phil Fraser thinking about the question in business; ‘What makes a great leader?’
With the Conservative leadership election process in full swing it got Phil Fraser thinking about the question in business; ‘What makes a great leader?’

Inspirational

Put simply if you can’t inspire your team, you can’t lead them. As a great leader you need to be able to convey your vision to others, and get them excited about it and ask (and inspire) your team to do things even they wouldn’t believe possible.

Clarity of vision and strategy

As a great leader you need to be able to clearly and simply communicate your vision for the business and then explain the strategy that will take you there. And one doesn’t happen without the other. No vision, your business is directionless. No strategy and even if you do have a clear vision you and your team won’t know how to get there.

Commitment to the development of the team

A leader cannot deliver success on their own, and the best way to deliver success is to continually improve and develop the team thus improving the team’s capability. True leaders take an interest and pride in the development and improvement of their team, both on a personal and professional level.

Good communicator

Great leaders must be able to interact with other people in a way that feels genuine. It’s difficult, although not impossible, to be a great leader without the ability to communicate, both to those inside the business as well as those outside. The team need to buy into the strategy and the vision, whilst clients, investors and stakeholders need to be able to understand the benefits of your business to them. Good communicators make this happen, and make it easier to get ‘buy in’, at whatever level that might be. ​​However, more often than not, the best leaders spend more time listening than speaking.

Good listener

The ability to listen is an undervalued and rarely highlighted trait of a great leader. A great leader actively listens. A great leader knows that they don’t know everything, make mistakes and can benefit from feedback and input. ​A great leader is open to new ideas, possibilities and perspectives, and understands and accepts that there is no ‘right’ way. Yes a great leader has to have a vision, but if that vision is flawed or can be improved he or she needs to be able to take that feedback onboard.

Positivity and confidence

There’s a fine line between snake oil salespeople and those who exude positivity and confidence. Often tied into ‘Inspiration’, the positivity and confidence of a leader (and sometimes when they don’t even have it internally themselves) can move mountains in a team and overcome the seemingly insurmountable. We’d all prefer to work for and with ‘Sally Sunshine’ rather than ‘Norman Negative’.

Resilience

As Mike Tyson said ‘everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’. It is a guarantee in business that not everything will go to plan. It’s how you react to that adversity, that defines a great leader. Business is a long slog. There are ups and downs. Successes and failures. That is why a great leader is one that faces all of this with resilience, battling through the hard times.

There are many more traits to great business leaders. How many of the above do you have?

Phil Fraser at The Business Sounding Board