Entrepreneurship: 5 Prerequisites to Becoming an Effective LeaderLinda Jenkins, July 10 2015
Successful entrepreneurs are also, without exception, effective leaders. A good idea is nothing without a good company, and a company can't be effective or profitable if it lacks effective leadership. The good news is that you don't need to be a born leader. You can learn to become one.
1. Learn to Say No
One of the most important things a leader must be able to do is to say no. Everyone around you, from partners to investors to employees, will want things that require action from you, and every action you take will cost you time, money and energy.
Saying no is not simply about denying people what they want, but making sure the things you do are worth your time. You only have so much to work with, so you must focus on what is absolutely necessary for your success and the success of the business. Delegate whenever you can, taking on only the most important tasks.
2. Learn to Listen Actively
The truth is that people want more than just to be heard; if it were, they'd just post on Twitter or Facebook and wait for re-Tweets and "likes" to roll in. Employees especially want to be heard. They want their boss's respect, and you should give it to them.
If you have employees, you probably were part of the hiring process and made the conscious decision to bring others into your company. You respected them enough to hire them, so pay attention, and respond to their thoughts and concerns. Actively listening to your employees (and others) will not only help you come up with ideas that you may not have found otherwise, but can also help to nurture and grow healthy relationships.
3. Be Inspiring
Successful entrepreneurs and effective leaders can inspire their followers. Those who work with you must have a passion for what they do and have a reason to follow your leadership each day.
Being an inspiration to people is not just about rewarding them or dangling incentives for doing tough jobs. It's about motivating them, earning their trust and making the passion you have for the business infectious. One of the simplest ways to do this is to be appreciative of the work people do. Look at what your employees have accomplished and show them what their successes mean for the company. Assure them that their efforts are important and they'll respond accordingly. Here is a great summation of the essence of leadership by General Colin Powell:
4. Keep Learning
If you don't know what you're doing, you're not going to be able to lead employees down a successful path, simply because you have no clear idea of how to get there. Stay up-to-date by reading about the latest developments in your industry. Learn new skills by taking classes. Even talking to people not normally in your social circle can result in new outlooks, knowledge and more creative ways to accomplish your goals .
5. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
Your emotional quotient is more important than intellect in terms of leadership. Your EQ is a combination of self-control, self-awareness, empathy and how you connect with your partners and employees.
Developing EQ requires self-awareness. At the end of the day, consider the things that happened, how you felt when they happened, and how others must have felt. Make a habit of taking stock of the day's emotional impact. With practice you will become more aware of your emotions as they arise, allowing you to manage the urges that come with these emotions. You'll also find yourself to be more thoughtful and considerate of others.
Being an entrepreneur is one thing. Being an effective leader is quite another.
You'll need to constantly improve yourself, to become an expert in your field, and to manage your emotional intelligence if you want to inspire others.
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