Most Strong Business Leaders Have These 4 Attributes

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( — July 6, 2016) —  Business leaders are a varied bunch. Like members of any other millions-strong demographic group, company owners and executives resist sweeping generalization. Put another way, they’re just like the workers they employ — staggeringly diverse.

That doesn’t mean they don’t usually share some general attributes that make them particularly successful in the business arena. Here’s a look at four of the most common personality traits of successful executives, business owners and high potentials — and some hints about what the rest of us can learn from them.

1. Strong Communication Skills

“You don’t have to let your entire team in on every thought or step that goes into your decision-making,” says Rosemary Plorin, a Nashville-based communications executive with more than 20 years of experience in her field. “But if you want employees to ‘act like an owner,’ you need to keep them in the loop with regards to strategic initiatives, major personnel or structure changes, and other items that affect their day-to-day work – and your bottom line.”

Strong individual communication skills, well-defined communication channels through every level of the organization, and a clear crisis (or, simply, crunch time) communications plan are all critical. You need to enjoy sharing information with your employees, and demonstrate a willingness and ability to receive information from them.

2. Openness to Employee Feedback

Strong leaders must be open to honest, constructive employee feedback. If you don’t have thick skin and an open mind, you’re not going to be an effective leader — and, sooner or later, your employees will leave you for someone willing to hear them out.

3. Willingness to Change Course

What’s the use of hearing employees out if you’re not going to take their comments to heart? Strong leaders shouldn’t flinch at the first prick of criticism, but they do need to implement commonsense suggestions from subordinates and board members. They also need to listen to data that tells them they’re on the wrong track. Leaders that fail to heed such warnings eventually lose credibility with their employees, and may lose the confidence of their boards and investors.

4. Humility & Ownership

Not actual business ownership — you’ve already got that down, presumably. No, this type of ownership is even more important: the ability to own your mistakes, even when it’s painful to admit fault. A relative handful of employees is apt to see such admissions as indications of weakness; you can deal with them accordingly. To the rest, you’ll demonstrate rare grace in the face of adversity.

What Shouldn’t Strong Leaders Do?

The state government of Queensland, Australia, offers some helpful advice on the sorts of behaviors business owners should strive to avoid:

  • Poor Communication Skills: Duh. See #3.
  • Reluctance to Delegate: Employees don’t like bosses who want to do it all themselves, particularly when they paid their reluctance to let go with a penchant for micromanaging.
  • Favoritism: Even-handedness is key, so keep your personal preferences to yourself — no matter how hard you have to try.

Plenty of additional traits belong on this list. The best way to find out which attributes you need to eliminate from your vernacular is simply to ask your employees. (See #4 above.)

By the way, if you’re going into business in Queensland, props. Your local authorities have your back.

Are you a strong business leader? How many of these attributes do you have?