Characteristics of a business leader

Though different leadership styles can be used at different times in a business, some character traits are important for all leaders:

  • self-awareness – understanding your own strengths and weaknesses
  • decisiveness – the ability to make decisions quickly
  • fairness – treating others with equity
  • enthusiasm – motivating a team with a positive attitude
  • integrity – earning the respect of your team
  • knowledge – keeping abreast of the relevant facts, figures and trends
  • creativity and imagination – coming up with new and innovative ideas or promoting a workplace that does
  • endurance – persevering when things go wrong.

Remember, it is just as important to be able to spot these abilities in others as it is to have them yourself. You should assess the skills your staff already possess and how you may be able to draw on them and support them to build relevant skills.

There are also characteristics that any successful leader will avoid, such as:

  • poor communication—leads to misunderstandings, errors and poor tone
  • reluctance to delegate—leads to resentment and inefficiencies
  • favouritism among staff—leads to resentment.

Learn more about skills for running a business.

The difference between managers and leaders

Management and leadership complement each other, but they are separate roles. A leader inspires, motivates and encourages people to achieve visionary goals. A manager deals with the actual operation of a business.

Typical managerial tasks include:

Each business will include both leaders and managers, and they can sometimes be the same person. A leader can only inspire a team to success if there is a management structure in place to ensure tasks are carried out. Likewise, a leader who wants to be effective must be careful that they are not spending too much time managing and not enough time leading.

Also consider...