10 Traits All Successful Business Leaders Should Have

by Mike O'Neill

Today’s economy is getting much more complex and unpredictable. Businesses are searching for top talent to keep up with the demands of the changing market. Companies are hiring those with the best leadership qualities for their organization to deal with this evolving economy.

Being an effective business leader can take years of practice and experience. This takes such a long time because an effective business leader needs to balance several skills - each requiring their own learning curve.

At different times, different leadership styles will be used when building and running an effective business. Here are ten traits that all successful business leaders should have. 

Top 10 Traits of Successful Business Leaders

1. Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is intense interest, approval, or enjoyment, and you’re an enthusiast if you’re an enthusiastic person. So, why is enthusiasm so crucial for a business leader?

If you want people to follow you, then you must lead them with some enthusiasm. You do this by leading by example.

As a business leader, your job is to show - not tell - your team what real commitment and enthusiasm look like daily. 

2. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to understand your own strengths and weaknesses as a business leader. Aspiring leaders make the mistake of going to great lengths to try and cover up their weaknesses. Don’t do this.

Address your weaknesses openly so an effective solution can be found. If you think you do not have any weaknesses, think again. If you’re only playing entirely into your strengths, it will leave you vulnerable, causing the business to suffer as a result.

3. Fairness

Fairness is the treatment of others as equals - no matter what the circumstances are. It is a must-have characteristic of any effective business leader.

Without fairness, there is subjectivity, and that is a challenging scale. As a business leader, there is no luxury of having the time to look at every single situation, personal issues, or conflict with a detailed eye.

Instead, it is more important to have principles and practices in place that ensure you reach a positive, desirable outcome - quicker. This means a business leader handles company issues internally with an established set of fair principles for everyone. 

4. Decisiveness

Decisiveness is the ability to make decisions - effectively and quickly. Decisiveness is essential because an effective business leader needs to be able to make executive decisions quickly. 

Making no decision is still making a decision. This is called “paralysis by analysis,” and it happens quite frequently. Business leaders sometimes have an overwhelming fear of making the wrong decision. They end up procrastinating on making a choice. 

All this does is cause a larger problem - delays.

5. Integrity

Integrity is earning the respect of your team without having to remind them of your seniority. There are many leaders today who rely on their title as their crutch. They think this excuses their own behavior because it’s like saying, “I’m the CEO,” or “I’m the manager,” instead of earning people’s respect by behaving and acting appropriately.

Integrity is so much more than just doing the right thing. Integrity is about standing for something that is so much bigger than yourself. Always remember, a company’s culture is a reflection of its leaders.

6. Creativity & Imagination

Creativity and imagination are the ability to come up with new and innovative ideas that push your business forward. This is what allows the best business leaders to stick around for the long-term. 

It’s hard to build a profitable company. It’s even harder to keep the company profitable over decades and double its revenue over and over. It takes a lot of imagination and creativity to do this. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over in the business world and expect the same results. With the ever-changing economy and needs of clients, creativity is necessary.

7. Knowledge

Knowledge may be facts, information, and skills that a person acquires throughout their life experiences and education, but as the saying goes, a talking head is worthless. 

If you want to be an effective business leader, you need to be a knowledgeable one. That means a leader who can keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening in the economy to stay on top of relevant figures, facts, and best business practices.

8. Endurance

Endurance is the ability to persevere even when things may not be in your favor. Part of being an effective business leader is learning to be okay with ambiguity. You’re not always going to have all of the answers. This is okay.

You won’t have all of the answers, and you won’t always know where to move next. This, too, is okay. You will have losses, and you will have wins. That is all the usual ebb and flow of business. But you cannot lose your sense of self-confidence because of any of this.

To be an effective business leader, you must believe in yourself and see things through until the very end.

9. Concentration

Concentration, in short, is the ability to stay focused. There will always be distractions in life - especially in the workplace. But an effective business leader will have the ability to push forward with laser-like focus towards the end goal. 

Effective leadership is knowing which tasks are the most important and how to prioritize them over everything else.

10. Patience

Patience is the ability to accept - or at least tolerate - troubles without getting too upset or angry.  To be an effective business leader, patience is key. Not everything is going to go your way. Your team won’t always have good days. A patient leader is one who is firm yet also empathetic and understanding.

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