You may have set up your business as a result of a passion for what you do, the desire to be your own boss or because you are an expert in a particular field and things may have been ticking along nicely.

However, when the economy changes and we find ourselves in a turbulent business environment, where companies are battling to acquire and retain the best people, a different approach can make all the difference in whether your business rides the storm or falls victim to it.

In order for your business to thrive in such an economy, you will need a clearly defined business strategy that defines your business, giving it a set of values and purposes. Read more here The importance of a business strategy

You will also need to motivate your people and maintain high motivation levels, even when things are tough.  This is the role of a business leader and for this, you will need to perfect your leadership skills. Find out
Why leadership skills are important for business owners

1.     Strategy/Strategic Thinking

So what are good leadership skills and how can you achieve them?  We have identified seven key attributes that we think make up a good leader, the first one is the ability to think strategically.

A strategic thinker understands their values and the purpose of their business in their customers’ eyes. They have a set of financial targets that they strive to achieve and they understand the means needed to achieve them. They know what risks they might be facing and they have a plan to minimise them – or even turn them into opportunities.

Most of all, they understand their unique point of difference. The thing that gives them a sustainable competitive edge, is what makes them truly valuable to their core customer base. Because they know who their most valuable customers are and they know how to reach them.

When a leader is able to think strategically, they gain an important skill. They are able to work through unknown situations and gain the abilities to reason, learn, and make decisions that enable employees to push forward in the face of setbacks.

An effective leader will be prepared to think consciously and deliberately about where he wants his business to go and how to shape its future.

Thinking strategically means you will have the capacity to anticipate, the discipline to prepare now, and the ability to position yourself to compete and win in the future.

Whether you head up a multi-billion corporation, run a small to medium enterprise or an owner-managed business, one thing is certain, the ability for strategic thinking is an essential skill for today’s business landscape.

Top tips for strategic thinking:

  • Plan ahead
  • Look at your business objectives, from a different perspective
  • Gather intelligent data so you can make informed decisions
  • Be aware of forces that stand between your business and success

2.     Inspiring and influencing skills – get people to buy in to and execute the strategy

The ability to inspire and influence people in the workplace can improve your company’s productivity so it’s essential that you develop your people skills so that you are equipped to bring out the best in your team.

This job is made much easier when you have a clearly defined and visible set of values and vision. Live and breathe your values and vision and others will follow.

Top tips for getting your team to buy in and execute your strategy:

  • Make sure you always lead by example and consistently demonstrate a strong work ethic and positive attitude.
  • Remind your team that you believe in their ability to meet your company objectives.
  • Develop your listening skills – talk less and listen more. Show you care about what your colleagues are saying with the use of eye contact and open body language.
  • Encourage teamwork with open communication and remember to support and celebrate others’ successes.

9 leadership skills

“Effective leaders must choose the right tactic for the right mission, no matter if it’s the boardroom or the battlefield” The Entrepreneur’s 9 leadership guidelines to inspire others

Read more here Motivating and inspiring to action.

3.     Finding and nurturing talent. Putting people in the right roles

So you have a business strategy, you know where you are going and how you are going to get there but you can’t do this alone, you need good people to bring your strategy to life. Are you certain you have a winning team and the right people in the right roles?

Business Doctors Breaking Big

Square pegs in round holes

Effective leaders know their people, and who is doing what before they can accommodate the next stage of growth. Who is busy and who is not so busy? Who is dependent upon who to progress what they do? Do they have the right skill set as well as the right mindset?

Consider the 4 Rs: (extract from Breaking Big, the Business Doctors’ guide to breakthrough growth)

  • Retain the good staff who support your business model
  • Retrain your good people
  • Recruit where there is a gap
  • Recognition – is great for nurturing!

If you are satisfied that you have the right team in place, they see your vision, they share your values and you genuinely believe in their ability to carry out the work entrusted to them, you need to retain them.

Nurture your people so they don’t want to leave. This means investing in them and not just financially. Look after their mental health, develop them as individuals, offer continuous improvement, consider any requests for remote or hybrid working and think about implementing rewards and recognition programmes.

The working place is evolving at a fast pace and the skills your people had when they joined your business may not still be up to date. If you believe your people are right for you, then it’s worth considering retraining them.

If you have identified gaps in your team and you need to recruit – beware, the recruitment landscape has changed significantly post Covid and employees now seem to be making more demands upon employers.

Refer to your strategy where you will have identified any gaps in your workforce, have a clear idea of what the role is and write up a clear job description outlining your expectations.

You will need to consider an attractive package as competition is presently very high! This should include, wellbeing, remote/hybrid working, rewards and recognition schemes etc.

Business Insider reports that “Nearly 40% of workers would consider quitting if their bosses made them return to the office full time”.

Fortune reports that nearly 40% of employers expanded mental health benefits during the pandemic.

4.     Become an active listener

Listening is one of the most important skills you can possess as an effective leader.

How well you listen will have a major impact on your job effectiveness and your ability to lead.

Typically we only remember between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of what we hear.

By developing your listening skills you will improve your ability to inspire, influence, persuade and negotiate as well as potentially avoid conflict and misunderstandings.

Top tips for active listening:

  • Pay attention, don’t allow your mind to wander, and listen to the speaker’s body language
  • Show that you are listening, have eye contact, smile and use facial expressions
  • Provide feedback, reflect on what you have heard
  • Defer judgement, allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions and never interrupt with counterarguments

5.     People management

In simple terms, people management is the practice of managing people and making sure they have what they need to do their work effectively.

Sounds easy right? But to become a successful leader you will need to possess soft skills as well as experience and technical skills. The art of listening, the ability to show empathy, and above all, the aptitude for bringing the best out of people – read more

How well you relate to others will affect your ability to, attract the very best people to your business, improve employee morale and lead to an increase in performance and productivity.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

Top things you need for managing people

  • Trust
  • Be a good communicator
  • Motivation
  • Have patience
  • Ability to give credit where credit is due
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Accountability
  • Positive mindset

6. Negotiating skills

Negotiation is an essential leadership skill.

Leadership skills

The Harvard Business Review,  say effective leadership requires negotiation because some of the people you will lead may be smarter or more talented and in rare cases, more powerful.

They advise that if you expect people to follow your lead, you will need to know how to appeal to their interests, communicate with them effectively and be able to sell your vision.

As an effective negotiator, you will need the ability to think everything through, and consider all options whilst remaining realistic and avoiding bias.

The goal of any negotiation is to reach a common ground between the parties involved.

When you realize the importance of negotiation, you will develop yourself as the next-level leader in no time.

Relax share their 7 tips for effective negotiations:

  • Have a starting point
  • Set a time frame
  • Active listening
  • Honour commitments made
  • Investigste alternatives
  • Practice the art of persuasion
  • Have a closing point

7. Ability to resolve conflicts

When conflict arises in a business, it will fall upon the leadership team, to encourage discussion about how to resolve the issue and to find a way forward that both parties can agree upon.

Whilst it can be uncomfortable for many, avoiding conflict can have a detrimental effect to your business.  For example, poor morale if not dealt with in the right manner can delay the decision-making process, and could potentially change your strategic direction.

Top tips for dealing with conflict in the workplace:

  • Talk through the issues with those concerned
  • Focus on behaviour and events, not on individual personalities
  • Listen carefully and get all the facts
  • Identify points of agreement and disagreement
  • Develop a plan to work on each conflict
  • Follow through on your plan

Free Business Doctor leadership workbook

To conclude, a good leader needs to possess the ability to bring out the best abilities in their team members and motivate them to work together in achieving their business strategy.

We hope this article has provided you with the information you need on the skills required to become an effective leader.

If you are interested in developing your leadership skills or have any questions relating to this article, why not get in touch with your local Business Doctor?