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22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

Want to be a laudable leader? Study these characteristics – and the wise words of leaders who strive to embody them.

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1. Focus

“It’s been said that leadership is making important but unpopular decisions. That’s certainly a partial truth, but I think it underscores the importance of focus. To be a good leader, you cannot major in minor things, and you must be less distracted than your competition. To get the few critical things done, you must develop incredible selective ignorance. Otherwise, the trivial will drown you.” — Tim Ferriss, bestselling author, host of The Tim Ferriss Show 

2. Confidence

“A leader instills confidence and ‘followership’ by having a clear vision, showing empathy and being a strong coach. As a female leader, to be recognised I feel I have to show up with swagger and assertiveness, yet always try to maintain my Southern upbringing, which underscores kindness and generosity. The two work well together in gaining respect.” — Barri Rafferty, CEO, Ketchum North America

Related: Leadership Hustle: A Modern View On Leadership

3. Transparency

Transparency

“I’ve never bought into the concept of ‘wearing the mask.’ As a leader, the only way I know how to engender trust and buy-in from my team and with my colleagues is to be 100 percent authentically me — open, sometimes flawed, but always passionate about our work. It has allowed me the freedom to be fully present and consistent. They know what they’re getting at all times. No surprises.” — Keri Potts, senior director of public relations, ESPN

4. Integrity

“Our employees are a direct reflection of the values we embody as leaders. If we’re playing from a reactive and obsolete playbook of needing to be right instead of doing what’s right, then we limit the full potential of our business and lose quality talent. If you focus on becoming authentic in all your interactions, that will rub off on your business and your culture, and the rest takes care of itself.” — Gunnar Lovelace, co-CEO and cofounder, Thrive Market

5. Inspiration

“People always say I’m a self-made man. But there is no such thing. Leaders aren’t self-made; they are driven. I arrived in America with no money or any belongings besides my gym bag, but I can’t say I came with nothing: Others gave me great inspiration and fantastic advice, and I was fueled by my beliefs and an internal drive and passion. That’s why I’m always willing to  offer motivation — to friends or strangers on Reddit. I know the power of inspiration, and if someone can stand on my shoulders to achieve greatness, I’m more than willing to help them up.”  — Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California

6. Passion

“You must love what you do. In order to be truly successful at something, you must obsess over it and let it consume you. No matter how successful your business might become, you are never satisfied and constantly push to do something bigger, better and greater. You lead by example not because you feel like it’s what you should do, but because it is your way of life.” — Joe Perez, cofounder, Tastemade

Related: 13 Quotes From Today’s Most Successful Leaders On Opportunity And Getting Started

7. Innovation

innovation

“In any system with finite resources and infinite expansion of population — like your business, or like all of humanity — innovation is essential for not only success  but also survival. The innovators are our leaders. You cannot separate the two. Whether it is by thought, technology or organisation, innovation is our only hope to solve our challenges.” — Aubrey Marcus, founder, Onnit

8. Patience

“Patience is really courage that’s meant to test your commitment to your cause. The path to great things is always tough, but the best leaders understand when to abandon the cause and when to stay the course. If your vision is bold enough, there will be hundreds of reasons why it ‘can’t be done’ and plenty of doubters. A lot of things have to come together — external markets, competition, financing, consumer demand and always a little luck — to pull off something big.” — Dan Brian, COO, WhipClip

9. Stoicism

“It’s inevitable: We’re going to find ourselves in some real shit situations, whether they’re costly mistakes, unexpected failures or unscrupulous enemies. Stoicism is, at its core, accepting and anticipating this in advance, so that you don’t freak out, react emotionally and aggravate things further. Train our minds, consider the worst-case scenarios and regulate our unhelpful instinctual responses — that’s how we make sure shit situations don’t turn into fatal resolutions.”  — Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle is the Way and former director of marketing, American Apparel

10. Wonkiness

“Understanding the underlying numbers is the best thing I’ve done for my business. As we have a subscription-based service, the biggest impact on our bottom line was to decrease our churn rate. Being able to nudge that number from 6 percent to 4 Percent meant a 50 percent increase in the average customer’s lifetime value. We would not have known to focus on this metric without being able to accurately analyse our data.”  — Sol Orwell, cofounder, Examine.com

Related: Leaders Who Make Good Decisions Do These 6 Things Constantly

11. Authenticity

“It’s true that imitation is one of the greatest forms of flattery, but not when it comes to leadership — and every great leader in my life, from Mike Tomlin to Olympic ski coach Scott Rawles, led from a place of authenticity. Learn from others, read autobiographies of your favorite leaders, pick up skills along the way… but never lose your authentic voice, opinions and, ultimately, how you make decisions.” — Jeremy Bloom, cofounder and CEO, Integrate

12. Open-mindedness

Open-mind

“One of the biggest myths is that good business leaders are great visionaries with dogged determination to stick to their goals no matter what. It’s nonsense. The truth is, leaders need to keep an open mind while being flexible, and adjust if necessary. When in the start-up phase of a company, planning is highly overrated and goals are not static. Your commitment should be to invest, develop and maintain great relationships.” — Daymond John, CEO, Shark Branding and FUBU

13. Decisiveness

“In high school and college, to pick up extra cash I would often referee recreational basketball games. The mentor who taught me how to officiate gave his refs one important piece of advice that translates well into the professional world: ‘Make the call fast, make the call loud and don’t look back.’ In marginal situations, a decisively made wrong call will often lead to better long-term results and a stronger team than a wishy-washy decision that turns out to be right.” — Scott Hoffman, owner, Folio Literary Management

14. Personableness

“We all provide something unique to this world, and we can all smell when someone isn’t being real. The more you focus on genuine connections with people, and look for ways to help them — rather than just focus on what they can do for you — the more likable and personable you become. This isn’t required to be a great leader, but it is to be a respected leader, which can make all the difference in your business.” — Lewis Howes, New York Times bestselling author of The School of Greatness

Related: 4 Leadership Lessons You Won’t Learn In Business School

15. Empowerment

“Many of my leadership philosophies were learned as an athlete. My most successful teams didn’t always have the most talent but did have teammates with the right combination of skills, strengths and a common trust in each other. To build an ‘overachieving’ team, you need to delegate responsibility and authority. Giving away responsibilities isn’t always easy. It can actually be harder to do than completing the task yourself, but with the right project selection and support, delegating can pay off in dividends. It is how you truly find people’s capabilities and get the most out of them.” — Shannon Pappas, senior vice president, Beachbody LIVE

16. Positivity

Positivity

“In order to achieve greatness, you must create a culture of optimism. There will be many ups and downs, but the prevalence of positivity will keep the company going. But be warned: This requires fearlessness. You have to truly believe in making the impossible possible.” — Jason Harris, CEO, Mekanism

17. Generosity

“My main goal has always been to offer the best of myself. We all grow — as a collective whole — when I’m able to build up others and help them grow as individuals.” — Christopher Perilli, CEO, Pixel Mobb

18. Persistence

“A great leader once told me, ‘persistence beats resistance.’ And after working at Facebook, Intel and Microsoft and starting my own company, I’ve learned two major lessons: All great things take time, and you must persist no matter what. That’s what it takes to be a leader: willingness to go beyond where others will stop.” — Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo, appsumo

Related: Women Leaders In Business: 5 Lessons Learnt

19. Insightfulness

“It takes insight every day to be able to separate that which is really important from all the incoming fire. It’s like wisdom — it can be improved with time, if you’re paying attention, but it has to exist in your character. It’s inherent. When your insight is right, you look like a genius. And when your insight is wrong, you look like an idiot.” — Raj Bhakta, founder, WhistlePig Whiskey

20. Communication

“If people aren’t aware of your expectations, and they fall short, it’s really your fault for not expressing it to them. The people I work with are in constant communication, probably to a fault. But communication is a balancing act. You might have a specific want or need, but it’s super important to treat work as a collaboration. We always want people to tell us their thoughts and ideas — that’s why we have all these very talented people working with us.” — Kim Kurlanchik Russen, partner, TAO Group

21. Accountability

“It’s a lot easier to assign blame than to hold yourself accountable. But if you want to know how to do it right, learn from financial expert Larry Robbins. He wrote a genuinely humble letter to his investors about his bad judgment that caused their investments to falter. He then opened up a new fund without management and performance fees — unheard of in the hedge fund world. This is character. This is accountability. It’s not only taking responsibility; it’s taking the next step to make it right.” — Sandra Carreon-John, senior vice president, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

22. Restlessness

“It takes real leadership to find the strengths within each person on your team and then be willing to look outside to plug the gaps. It’s best to believe that your team alone does not have all the answers — because if you believe that, it usually means you’re not asking all the right questions.” — Nick Woolery, global director of marketing, Stance Socks

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Adam Bornstein is the founder of Pen Name Consulting, a marketing and branding agency; a New York Times best-selling author; and the creator of the two12 event.

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Leading

Be Clark Kent, Not Superman: 5 Simple Ways To Become The Office Superhero

Not all heroes wear capes. Here’s how you can build goodwill in the workplace and have coworkers singing your praises.

Matthew McCreary

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A superhero goes above and beyond to help others, and if you work in the same space as your team, you know that working together isn’t just about, well, work.

It’s about creating a harmonious environment where people feel included, important and happy. You probably spend nearly as much time (if not more) with your coworkers as you do with your family.

So why wouldn’t you take the time to cultivate office relationships, the same way you do in other walks of life?

It doesn’t have to be a grind developing these relationships. You don’t need to bring in bagels or coffee every morning or put in 60-hour weeks. All it really takes is a little thoughtfulness and the willingness to do things outside of your job description.

Here are five great examples of what you can do in your office that will make you the office superhero.

1. Do the dishes

If your office has a communal kitchen, you’ve probably gone in for a snack, only to see the sink is so full of dirty dishes and leftover food that you lose your appetite. Who wants to deal with that? Often, this situation can result in passive-aggressive emails about community hygiene.

Related: 3 Wonderfully Uncommon Reasons To Form Better Habits

The problem, though, is that no one wants to think of themselves as a dishwasher. They think it’s not part of the job description — and they’re probably right.

But, if your business has a kitchen, you probably know which person in the office washes the dishes and appreciate their effort.

It’s not as though you need to hand-wash everything. Simply being willing to occasionally unload the dishwasher is an appreciated gesture that your coworkers will notice.

2. Remember birthdays

Your coworkers want to feel special and seen, and remembering a birthday will make them feel like they’re more than just another cog in the machine.

Related: 9 Reliable Ways To Cultivate Creative Thinking

Set some sort of calendar notification on your smartphone so you know when it’s someone’s birthday. Then, either before work or during lunch, you can go out and grab a card or small treat that will let them know you remembered and care.

3. Solve tech issues

So many businesses are dependent on computers, iPads, WiFi and a million other tech tools and gadgets, but many of those businesses don’t have a dedicated IT worker. However, the great thing about the internet is that you can learn how to fix a lot of tech problems just by Googling it.

I have very little tech expertise, but I am always willing to learn how to do new things — plus, I enjoy fixing things. I recently helped set up a printer in our office, which allowed all of my coworkers to look at important business and personal documents.

Now, whenever someone in the office needs help with a tech problem, they ask me first. I help new employees set up their tech and help everyone else stay happy with their devices.

It’s an essential service for a digital media company like Entrepreneur, and I know the people in the office appreciate my willingness to find solutions.

4. Come in early or be willing to stay late

It’s often a good idea to arrive early at work, because it shows you are responsible and sets the standard for the rest of the day. (However, I’m not saying you should make it a habit to both come in early and stay late.)

But, if your coworkers are stressed out and working on a tight deadline, you can look like a hero by staying late and helping them accomplish their mission.

People remember the people who help them, especially when they go out of the way to do so. Working late into the night to complete something important can be incredibly rewarding and can bond colleagues together. Just make sure you are selective about your moments to step in and help — you don’t want to become the person who stays late all the the time.

5. Be graceful when someone makes a mistake

Everyone makes mistakes in the office. Some of those are big, some of them are small. Most of them you don’t even realize you’ve made until someone else points them out.

That’s why it’s great to treat others’ mistakes with grace. If someone makes an honest mistake, try to help them without embarrassing them.

For example, if I make typos in my stories, my coworkers and editors step in and clean up the typo without shaming me.

Related: Motivation-Boosting Tips From 8 Of The Greatest Entrepreneurs

Sometimes, they tell me my mistake so I can do better in the future. They’re not looking for credit. They just want to help. And that’s what being an office hero is all about.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Here’s Why Every Entrepreneur Needs A Business Mentor

There’s no success to be found when you’re standing still or alone.

Tasmin Copley

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Some entrepreneurs may look at their success and think it insulting to consider talking to a business mentor. And others may look at their struggles and think it’s the only solution to getting the business back on its feet. Neither of these views are correct in terms of what a business mentor can do for a business.

What a business mentor is

Before we get into reasons why, we need to clearly define what a business mentor is and that should already start clearing up the reasons why you’d need one. A business mentor is a well-established person in an industry who offers to impart their knowledge and experience to lesser experienced entrepreneurs and employees.

One could consider business mentors as a more personal relationship than one would have with a business consultant, but just as beneficial (if not more). Business mentors are basically business consultants, except you don’t (always) have to pay for their advice and mentorship. It’s a mentorship relationship and partnership. So, regardless of who you are and how successful your company is, every entrepreneur needs a business mentor and here’s why.

Related: How can I find a mentor?

There will never be “nothing more to learn”

At no point in any person’s life will they be able to say “I know absolutely everything and there’s nothing more for me to learn”. It may feel that way, but sit down with a business mentor for five minutes and your mind will be swirling with questions. We learn something new every day and with the help of a business mentor, the “something new” will always be related to business and have the potential to lead to business success. Isn’t that something that every entrepreneur dreams of?

There will always be something for entrepreneurs in every industry to learn. Technology is forever developing and providing new innovative ways for industries to work and that’s something entrepreneurs need to stay on top of.

Every bit of experience is beneficial

Now, you may be wondering how a business mentor can help when the years of experience they offer is from a time period where technology wasn’t as great a factor as it is today. And the answer is consistency. While the face of the world changes, there are certain constructs that remain exactly the same and business mentors will be able to teach you about these fundamentals that consumers rely on and need in order to adapt to the changing world.

Every bit of experience that mentors offer their mentees is valuable and beneficial. Entrepreneurs are usually so caught up in the bigger picture that they forget about the smaller, background details that are, in fact, the cornerstones of that end goal. Mentors have been there, made those mistakes and are here to make sure you don’t go down the same paths that caused them business trouble.

So, while their information may seem “outdated”, basic principles never change and should not be overlooked.

Everyone needs a support system

Having the weight of the business rest on your shoulders can be a mentally and emotionally draining responsibility. Entrepreneurs don’t only look to business mentors for advice but for support as well.

Everyone needs a support system and, in business, this means having a mentor. Someone who can back up the difficult business decisions you make and who can listen to the inevitable ranting sessions that follow a rough day in the office. They’re also someone to let you know that you’re doing a better job than you give yourself credit for and someone who can talk some sense into you when you go off the rails a little bit (this happens to all entrepreneurs, don’t worry).

Related: How do I go about choosing a a mentor and where can I find contact details?

It opens doors to networking opportunities

Generally, business mentors have been in the game for years. And over all those years they have met with some of the most influential people in the industry and business world. Every entrepreneur needs a business mentor even if it’s only for the networking opportunities that come with the relationship.

Business success, these days, is highly influenced by who you know and the importance of networking is not something that entrepreneurs can dismiss. Your business mentor will be able to introduce you to the biggest names in the industry and get you into networking events where you will have the opportunity to meet new people who can help you on the path of innovation.

You need someone to challenge you

Speaking of innovation, another reason why you need a business mentor is so that you have someone who is knowledgeable about the industry to challenge you. Through challenges, you’ll be forced to think about business in a new way and create innovative ways of dealing with standard business issues.

The problem many successful entrepreneurs have is that they tend to stick with what works and choose not to push any boundaries for fear of failure. That type of thinking will only get you so far in the business world and then your competitors will be overtaking you. Any business mentor will be able to explain to you why failure isn’t always a bad thing and that by challenging yourself and innovating, you’re growing. There’s no success to be found when you’re standing still.

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Leading

MAD Leadership Skills: Our Perspectives

Let’s have a look at some aspects around reasons for starting a business, the challenges faced and critical lessons learned.

Spencer Horne and Tshinondiwa Thovhakale

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Some entrepreneurial skills can be taught while others need to be experienced. It is possible to gain skills while working for someone else, but there are perspectives that you can miss if you have not started your own initiative. Let’s have a look at some aspects around reasons for starting a business, the challenges faced and critical lessons learned.

The people who contributed to this content are from different fields of life, in various industries, with a variety of unique goals and ambitions.

Why Start an Entrepreneurial Initiative?

Some people start ventures because they have a good idea, some want to make a difference, and some are lucky enough to have witnessed a family member beginning a legacy. Three themes have been highlighted by our contributors this week:

Entrepreneurship is About Building Your Own or Expanding upon a Family

Member’s Legacy 

Tshinondiwa Thovhakale has started a transport company and has done this because of the memories she shares below: “Growing up I had a good relationship with my dad. I have some of the best memories of him. He owned his own taxi business and drove one of them. He would come to school and fetch me, and before dropping me home, we would go to the taxi rank, take people, and I’d sit in front next to him and count money for him. Then do the normal rounds of dropping people at their destinations, and then he’d take me home and go back to work. I think all that grew on me. When he stopped and made other deals with his taxis, I felt it was our legacy, and I couldn’t let it die like that.”

Related: The Kindling Of The Entrepreneur Spirit

Entrepreneurship is About Following Your Passion:

Spencer Horne stated:

“I wanted to work directly on the needs and problems that are my passion. The independence of starting a business and choosing exactly what to work on has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work. “

Entrepreneurship is About Making a Difference:

Many entrepreneurs start a venture because of a need that they would like to fulfil in the market. Some love the idea of feeling good by doing good and making a living out of it.

Things to Think About

Five challenges identified this week are:

  • Networking is essential: People don’t always seek new businesses to uplift, the help their associates, leverage this to your benefit and establish a network of influencers, support, and contacts in the industry.
  • Getting and keeping talent is a task: Especially initially when resources are limited, and you have a lot to do and achieve to grow your business, and cannot do it all alone.
  • You may encounter cultural/societal biases –  learn to use it to your advantage and set a precedent in the industry of what you can achieve: For example, being a female in transport, people may undermine you if they see the industry as a “man’s world” – show them why they’re wrong.
  • You need to make your opportunities when starting a business: There are fewer opportunities when on your own, and you need to build a relationship base to spread your reach. Tenders are often given to the same people and fundraising is one of the most time-consuming aspects of starting or scaling a business. It’s not something that is always enjoyed, and unfortunately, it must take priority over all else until it is achieved.
  • Persistence and flexibility should be balanced: Ironically one needs both an unfaltering belief in what you are doing and the flexibility to pivot out in response to the market. This is one of the most significant and most difficult responsibilities of a business leader.

Lessons Learnt

You need to make your own path

There is no blueprint. Your particular path to building your business will be different to that of others. At times you may learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs, but be careful of comparisons. Be prepared for the detours and bumps along the road and be sure to take the time to enjoy the journey.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

The importance of being patient

Patience is vital. Always have back up plans. It is best to venture into a business that you’re passionate about, because it’s the love for the business that will whisper the words “try again, just one more time” every time a challenge comes your way.

The importance of noticing the small wins

Entrepreneurship is a journey and in many cases, a challenging one. With this in mind, it is easy to get frustrated, lose patience and give up. At points, you may feel like no progress has been made. This is when people should remind themselves of the journey that they’ve already walked. It’s important to celebrate the small successes so that we stay positive and forge ahead.

Bringing it All Together

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but it is needed. It makes many people happy and helps create jobs and uplift communities. People start initiatives for different reasons, and we all experience challenges. It is through these challenges that we learn and grow.

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