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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, while a position might make you the boss, it doesn’t necessarily make you an effective business leader.

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

Leadership is a topic we love writing about, as there are many online resources on the topic. Plus, let’s face it: Everyone needs leadership skills, not just those at the top. So, let’s dive in and look at some of the top business leadership qualities you can use 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 heard and understood.

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

Sound Decision-Making

On a list of crucial business traits a leader needs, decision-making is near the top. Leaders make countless decisions, and 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, while major decisions require major attention.

There is no room to shirk away from making the call when required. With practice, you’ll have more confidence in your ability to call it correctly. 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 double cross.

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

Influential 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 about their industries, history, and leadership. 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, or a trusted subordinate quits out of the blue.

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. You probably already possess these traits somewhat if you’re in a leadership position.

You can 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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