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What Makes an Effective Business Leader?

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Whether you’re an aspiring business owner or a seasoned executive, there is one question you should ask yourself regularly. What makes a good leader?

After all, a position might make you the boss. It doesn’t necessarily make you an effective business leader.

It turns out, though, that effective leaders share some common qualities. The even better news is that you can work on these qualities in yourself and become more effective in the decisions you make and actions you take.

Leadership is a topic we love writing on, as there are many online resources on the topic. Plus let’s face it, everyone needs leadership skills not just those people at the top. So, let’s dive in and look at some of the top business leadership qualities that you can use, both professionally and socially.

Good Communication

You cannot lead if you cannot communicate effectively. Your message needs to be received clearly by its audience. Great leaders understand that not everyone approaches information with the same level of expertise, so they gear their communication to the level of their listeners to ensure it is not just heard but also understood.

Leaders at the top of their game are also excellent listeners, so they listen when others speak. Good listening makes the other person or audience feel valued, and so they are more receptive to what your message.

Sound Decision-Making

On a list of crucial business traits a leader needs, decision-making comes in near the top. Leaders make countless decisions. They can’t agonize over all of them.

Good decision-making demands that you recognize the importance of the decision and give it the appropriate attention. Minor decisions require little attention. Major decisions require major attention.

There is no room for shirking away from making the call when it’s required. You’ll have more confidence in your ability to call it correctly with practice. Use a methodology that you’re comfortable with and use it every time you need to make a decision, big or small. As the saying goes: practice makes perfect!

Acting with Integrity

If someone doesn’t trust you, they won’t follow you. At best, they’ll follow your orders while looking for the doublecross.

Successful leaders embody integrity. They don’t double-deal with their own team. They behave ethically.

If people trust that you mean what you say, they’ll prove far more willing to follow you.

Striving for Excellence

Effective leaders strive for excellence. This can take many forms.

For example, good leaders often spend a lot of time on self-education. They often read extensively on their industries, history, and leadership itself. This expands their frame of reference and lets them make more informed choices.

They leave their comfort zones. This lets them challenge their own limits and see their true potential.

This pursuit of excellence serves as an implicit signal to everyone that good enough isn’t good enough. It’s also inspirational.


Problems crop up every day in business. Sometimes, deals fall through. A trusted subordinate quits out of the blue.

All of the successful business leaders keep going in the face of these problems. Solutions exist for most problems. Leaders stick it out until they find those solutions.

Becoming a More Successful Business Leader

Becoming a more successful business leader doesn’t mean changing yourself overnight. If you’re in a leadership position, you probably already possess all of these traits to some degree.

What you can do is build on them with small, but meaningful steps. Make a commitment to listen with more care for the next month. Decide that you won’t spend more than 15 seconds on low-level decisions and follow through.

Block out 20 minutes a day for self-education. Keep three commitments you’d rather avoid. Keep working on one vexing problem until you find the solution.

Any or all of these steps will make you a more effective leader.

Looking for more business leadership advice. Check out our management section on this site.

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