Becoming a Leader – and 5 Traits to Lead Better

Like many of the best things in life, running your own business doesn’t come with a set of instructions. There’s no manual, no reference guide, and no support line you can call if you have questions.

There are certain skill sets for launching and running a successful business, and some entrepreneurs seem to just “get it” from the start. They conquer their challenges… They make the most of their opportunities… And they seem to always make the right decisions.

But does that mean these folks were just lucky, born with an instinctive understanding of business? Probably not.

“Organic” You

Let’s be honest… There’s a natural “You” that’s in everyone, and this “Organic You” may not be a natural at running a business or leading a team. In life, there’s Organic you… and then there’s what you choose to become.

If you’re running a successful business, you’ve clearly figured out some of the important things about making it work. You’re turning a profit, pleasing your clients, and building a sustainable operation. And is that because “Organic You” was a natural, or because you worked hard to become something more?

Leading teams of any size is the same way. You might be a natural, or you might have to really work at it to become effective. If you haven’t had formal leadership training, either through schooling or through the military or in business, you’re having to figure it out on you own… and that isn’t always easy.

Running a business changes you in many ways, and if you want your business to grow, one of the most-important things you can change is to become a Leader. (With a CAPITAL L)

Leader You

If you run a business, you may already be the boss, but are you a Leader?

The boss might be able to tell people what to do, either on a jobsite or when setting work expectations in general, but a Leader can inspire people to do things. The team might HAVE to listen to their boss, but they WANT to listen to the Leader

Here’s a quote we think sums up what it means to be a leader in pretty solid terms, as quoted in This Great Article on Leadership from Inc. Magazine.

“In the long run, great leaders recognize that their job is to get people to do things they might not want to do, in order to achieve goals they want to achieve.” ~ Bill Murphy Jr.

If we accept Murphy’s points, they key of being a Leader is that it’s all about maximizing your results. Any choice that distracts from this goal is counterproductive, even if you feel like it serves other purposes. And one overall theme seems to be that the best results come when Leaders are A Part Of the team, not Apart From it.

There are dozens of great articles out there (like Murphy’s) if you want to read more about the Why’s and How’s of being a Leader. We’re just pointing out that there’s a fundamental difference between authority (being nominally in charge) and leadership (actually having people follow you). Plus we’re offering a few basic tips of our own.

We won’t pretend to know everything it takes to become a great leader (and beware of anyone who does), but the following 5 things are traits we’ve seen in the great Leaders we’ve known

  1. Leaders give back… of their time, their knowledge, and their insight to help their teams improve.
  2. Leaders listen as well as tell… because they know anyone’s input can be valuable.
  3. Leaders give and receive respect… because the fastest way to lose someone’s respect is to disrespect them.
  4. Leaders are consistent… because they have a plan and seek consistent goals.
  5. Leaders avoid petty crap… because it would diminish them in the eyes of their teams.

So think consciously; what kind of leader are you?

How’s that working out for you???  What could / would / should you do differently?

Now go out there and be the Leader your business needs you to be!

The Go iLawn / Go iPave team.

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