The first steps in fashioning a successful business undertaking are having a great idea, and building a team to brings that idea to life. The ability to implement a new and unique idea is what separates the idealists from the entrepreneurs. But how do you effectively lead your team to enable your venture to achieve greatness? Here are some leadership characteristics that are necessary to get your team moving in the direction that’s most profitable for you and your business: Communication Skills A good leader must have a high level of communication skills. He or she must be a good speaker and listener. Good leaders are able to listen to the opinions of their followers and converse with them, asking questions and answering their queries in order to confirm that they comprehend what was communicated. They must be able to connect with all levels of the organization. Consistency Nothing makes team relations more unbalanced than an unpredictable leader. Your team will emulate you, and if you can remain professional and consistent, you will find that your workers collectively perform better. Being a consistent leader will gain you credibility and respect, both of which are important to getting buy-in from the group. Self Management Effective leaders are aware of their flaws, strengths, and potential causes of bias, and they can control their attentiveness, their time, and their reactions. They practice self-awareness, which is the skill to manage feelings so one reacts to incidents and people in a suitable and genuine manner. They also practice self-control, meaning that they are disciplined, without being too uncompromising or aloof. Empathy A good leader tries to empathize with and understand others. People need to be accepted for their unique temperaments. Even when one may be required to reject certain behaviors, one accepts the good intentions of teammates. Some of the most successful leaders are those who have become expert empathetic listeners. Positive Attitude Great leaders know that they won’t have a driven and happy team unless they themselves display a positive attitude. This can be done by building a cheerful and comfortable atmosphere in the workplace, and by staying positive when things go wrong. Even some modest changes like providing pizza or ice cream on Fridays can make a world of difference. Vision You must know the direction in which you want your company to go, and you must also be able to communicate this vision to the rest of your team. Explain your vision using any creative means at your disposal, and then ask your managers to tell you, in their own words, what they understand your vision to be. In that way, you’ll know whether you’re on the same page as your team. Mission Leaders know what their mission is. They know why the company endures. A first-class leader has a well thought out mission defining the purpose of the organization. That purpose should be vivid and clear, and not theoretical or abstract. Each worker should be able to identify with the mission and try to attain it. Persuasiveness People have to believe in your credibility and in you. The key to being a great leader is the confidence people have in your mission, your product, your character, your facts, and you as a team leader. Remember, image is everything. This confidence doesn’t just happen; you have to persuasively inspire it. Commitment How can I meet my team’s needs? How can I make it succeed? The commitment of an effective leader lies with the group. This may at times require you to look for the forest and not be blinded by the trees. A good leader will concentrate on building cohesiveness, a sense of community, and consensus decision-making within the team. Honesty This is another of the leadership characteristics that lends itself to credibility. Leaders displaying honesty, especially about the concerns of their team members, are far more likely to address rather than avoid obstacles. Honesty also allows for better assessment and growth, so always do the honest thing. Humility Management guru Jim Collins describes humility as “a burning, driving, relentless ambition to serve.” Collins adds that this ambition comes without the conceit to deceive oneself into believing one is all knowing or always right. Leaders must be convinced that they have what it takes to succeed, but they must have the humility to know that they can always learn and always improve. Courage According to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, courage is “the foremost of the virtues,” upon which all the others depend. The attribute of courage means you are prepared to take risks in the attainment of your goals with no guarantee of success. Each action you take and each commitment you make involves a risk of some kind because there is no certainty in life or business. Results Orientation You are responsible as a leader for producing results, however, they are defined. It is not about effort, which is undoubtedly good and greatly needed, but what really counts in the end is what is accomplished. You have to keep this in the front of your brain as a guide to your activity. Great leaders devote their energy to the most efficient actions to accomplish the greatest results. Competence To enlist in another’s cause, we must trust that that person knows what he or she is doing. Leadership competence does not necessarily refer to the technical abilities of the owner or manager of the core technology of the business. Motivating, challenging, and empowering others are skills that must be exhibited if leaders are to be seen as competent. Good Instincts The ability to hire quality talent will govern the failure or success of any organization. Seventy-two percent of high-performing sales managers rate their teams as above average or excellent, compared to 54 percent for underperforming sales managers. High-performing managers focus on hiring people who fit in with the company culture, who are good builders of relationships, and are competent in their fields. Leadership, like life, is unique. The skills that work well for one leader may not work at all for another. However, the primary skills we have just discussed here can be implemented by anybody, not only in the workplace but also at home and in the wider community.