Monday, January 19, 2009

Traits of Successful Business Leaders

The renowned business consultant Peter Drucker said, "The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say 'I.' They think 'We.' They think 'Team.' They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but 'We' gets the credit…This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done."

Business managers at every level aspire to have the ability to inspire their team or department and to coordinate all aspects of the operations under their charge to assure success. These two aspects of management—the ability to inspire team members and the ability to develop a cohesive team or department—are the keys to successful leadership.

On a personal level, managers become leaders by exhibiting the following traits and abilities:

Integrity and honesty
Managers who are unethical or dishonest in their dealings with customers, other managers or team members will not inspire others.

This is perhaps the single most important trait of a leader. People will not work to their full capacity for leaders they believe may turn against them or may not support them in the future.

Optimism and courage
Leaders who are not overly swayed by the vicissitudes of business will inspire others. Any type of major project will have moments of difficulty. Leaders must be farsighted enough to look beyond these and have the courage to project a sense of optimism to others.

As stated by Drucker in the opening paragraph, a leader is most inspirational when others know that he or she will not assume sole credit for success but will assume major responsibility for failure. Leaders form successful teams by thinking of success in terms of 'We,' not 'I.'

Knowledge and competency in the industry
Team members are seldom inspired by managers who are not competent in the type of work that those team members do. Exceptions to this are in highly technical or specialized fields, in which an executive could not be expected to be expert in the field.

Ability to make the most of available talent
Successful managers are able to mold, integrate and coordinate the talents of their team members to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. This allows managers to make the most of the collective talent within their group.

Successful managers stand behind every commitment they make. When they don't, team members will usually be reluctant to commit themselves totally to their work.

Strive to make other leaders, not just followers. The best and most successful managers inspire and train others to take initiative and assume responsibility for goals. When team members become resourceful, take initiative and become responsible for their own work, team effectiveness is optimized.


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