Over the past several years during the current economic downturn many groups of business professionals have speculated about what it takes to be a leader. Is a leader someone who grows the company and will stop at nothing to get profits? After all, without profits a business cannot operate. However, we have seen that some leaders will stop at nothing to gain the most profits and have no regard for the greater good of society. The term leader can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. This paper takes an in depth analysis on the topic of Business Leadership and what clearly defines it.
When analyzing business leadership, the first step is to define some of the traits and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders today. With the advent of globalization, the business environment has had an increasing rate of change. With this new change to businesses everywhere, most business markets have become dynamic and volatile. Now more than ever, most companies are looking to their leaders to guide them through these rough waters. All companies are placing a lot more emphasis on business leadership on all different levels throughout their organization.
Managers of the past may have been easily promoted due to large economic growth and may have just been expected to maintain the status quo. Now many managers or successful business leaders have to think outside of the box to constantly deliver growth to their shareholders or superiors. The new business leaders we are seeing in the new economy tend to be visionaries. They look to see how business is changing and try to adapt strategies before any of their markets are impacted. The recent subprime mortgage scandals and housing bubble burst steered several large institutions into bankruptcy. Many companies are now trying to also look for business leaders that will not only keep the profits coming but also build a strong sense of ethics and integrity into their organizations.
After careful investigation and research here are some of the top traits or characteristics noted in most of the business leaders today. Good leaders must be able to keep a clear head and tolerate frustration and stress well. A business leader today must be able to stay calm under adversity and be able to process a clear vision of the actions that need to be taken to accomplish their ultimate goal. One trait of a successful business leader is emotional stability also known as locus of control.
The next trait would have to be self-esteem. When you are a business leader you are constantly being analyzed and many decisions are made quickly. A leader has to know that they will guide the business in the right direction and be confident in their choices. This in turn, can often inspire others in the organization to believe in the same goal or vision.
Drive or need to achieve is often looked at as common trait in business leaders today. If the leader is just satisfied with average results he or she will not continue to push the envelope and often productivity or profits can lack. The drive or need to achieve is rarely filled in a true business leader. They are always looking for the next challenge and create ways to get around obstacles.
Filtering information quickly is also a trait that is held by most business leaders today. Another term used to define this is business acumen. Ted Prince notes “Before the Great Recession, leadership development was essentially a boom-time phenomenon. It could afford to focus on traditional leadership competencies such as interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and decision making. To some extent, leadership development had atrophied into the study of leadership when things are going well.
Today, we are in a very different place. Business acumen is all about showing how our behaviors directly impact and improve business outcomes, measured in financial and market value terms. Business acumen development aims to fill the chasm in traditional leadership development programs, which involves the behavioral skills that lead to increases in profitability and market value. Business acumen is defined as the capability to bring about positive business outcomes” (Prince).
Optimism is a trait that will be found business in every successful business leader. The leader often views problems as a challenge and looks at setbacks as a possible new direction. They are constantly focused on the main goal at hand and will not let many things deter their mindset that the goals will be achieved. If they do not get a sale that day they will still believe they are going to get the sale in the future. Their sense of optimism can often be a motor to keep them driving to their ultimate goals.
Tolerance to ambiguity refers to a person’s tolerance to uncertainty and risk. Business Leaders will face this on a day to day basis and have to also possess this trait to be successful in business today. Art Petty writes in his blog that “top performers fight the routine. High performance individuals in all areas of life, from leaders to athletes to great individual contributors work hard everyday to fight the gravitational pull of getting stuck in the proverbial rut. High performance teams and organizations find their comfort not in sameness or routine, but in embracing the ambiguity of the world and the constancy of change and the constant need to change. Many of the best leaders go out of their way to push themselves and their teams to constantly do things different to keep their senses sharp, their individual and collective minds expanding and their ideas fresh” (Petty).
Courage is also a trait that comes up quite often when referring to business leadership. As a leader or entrepreneur you have to have a high tolerance for risk. Generally, when you start out you are all on your own and many more businesses fail than succeed. A true business leader has the gumption to take a calculated risk and keep going when times get slow.
The traits listed above seem to be the most common in the true business leaders today. Some other traits that are highly desirable but may not be found in every business leader are high energy, intuitiveness, maturity, team orientation, empathy and charisma. We can analyze these traits closer to see how a leader can benefit from possessing them.
Generally, as a business leader you have to put in a lot of hours to see your visions through to the end. A leader with high energy can stay alert and focused no matter what large obstacles are encountered by the business. Intuitiveness is another trait that is tossed around in regards to business leader. This can also fall under the umbrella of business acumen. It is also mentioned by many scholars that a leader must know him or her self. When a leader is aware of their strengths or weaknesses a leader can then begin to adjust given the current situation.