Surprising recent research investigated the link between leadership emotions and leadership perceptions. The study found that female leaders may often battle sexist stereotypes that could label them as “too emotional” for an effective leadership role. However the study, spearheaded by Thomas Sy and Daan van Knippenberg paints a different picture. In the study it was found that female leaders are perceived as more effective leaders than men when they express calm, happy emotions. The effect is most pronounced for leaders in top positions in organizations. As interesting as the research results are, some general trails still apply to both men and women. Whether you run a corporation or prefer running your business venture under a DBA, these 10 vital traits may mean the difference between bankruptcy or success.
1. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is commonly defined as the ability to perceive, understand, use, manage and handle emotions. Low EQ may lead to inadequate communication skills which can damage one’s credibility as a leader and may make employees feel less confident in you. Emotional intelligence individuals are aware of their emotions as well as the feelings and needs of those around them. Not only does having a high EQ help leaders to regulate their emotions effectively, but it allows them to manage social situations and relationships more effectively as well. A strong EQ is considered to form part of the foundation for working cooperatively within a group and creating a sense of cohesion – all important factors for running a successful business.
Thinking on your feet and being open to suggestions and ideas is crucial when adapting to unexpected change in any business. When entrepreneurs are rigid in their thinking and decision making they may inadvertently limit their options or be unable to make quick adjustments, which could play out adversely in the business realm. While planning and scheduling remain a crucial part of any business, the entrepreneur needs to be able to find creative solutions in unexpected situations.
Starting a business venture is no easy feat. In fact 2 out of 10 new businesses may fail in the first year of operations, according to the Bureau of Labor. Unlike a traditional job where upper-level management drives business objectives, and keeps employees accountable, the entrepreneur needs to be able to hold themselves accountable in the absence of a “boss”. Entrepreneurs who are able to create and execute plans without external factors holding them accountable certainly may have a competitive edge in business.
Many new business owners are faced with tasks and challenges that they most likely have not encountered before. Resourceful entrepreneurs can effectively problem-solve and grow and scale their business without necessarily having access to all the answers or resources to do so. Resourcefulness requires a willingness to work creatively and to effectively manage a business without having the immediate know-how.
5. Being a Leader Instead of Managing with Fear
Many leaders may use fear-based measures to control others and gain results from their workforce. Fear-based management often includes tacit threats and scare tactics, which leaders may erroneously believe is effective in motivating their workforce. Instead, fear-based measures create a culture based on suspicion and angst in which employees may be afraid to admit that they made a mistake, voice disagreement or offer new ideas. A leader sees how things can be improved and rallies people to move toward that better vision without employing fear-based tactics. One of the key characteristics of a successful business leader is considered to be someone who is able to get their employees as excited about the product or service as they are.
Successful business owners should have a sense of resiliency. While running a business it is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to hear “no” from potential customers and business interests. Many entrepreneurs may find themselves starting multiple businesses if their initial idea did not take off. Some successful business owners may find that their first few business ideas were not quite sustainable in the long run, but can apply what they learned from the experience to a new venture.
7. Knowing the Difference Between Constructive Criticism and Complaining
Effective leaders and managers need to offer a fair balance between negative and positive feedback. Over time team members will be more likely to appreciate negative feedback if they know it is presented with intentions – this is what is generally referred to as constructive criticism. On the other hand, chronic complainers in the workplace can be toxic to themselves and the people around them. Research from Stanford University found that complaining may actually shrink the hippocampus, an area of the brain believed to be critical to problem solving and intelligent thought. Leaders and managers who spend their time grumbling and lamenting are therefore not only reinforcing a negative mindset, but they are potentially damaging their brain in the process as well.
8. Embracing the Unpredictable
We may in error assume that some of the most successful people in business are those who have all their ducks in a row, complete with a meticulous plan. While careful planning forms part of any business venture, being a control freak may seriously hamper one’s ability to make quick decisions. Leaders and managers may become easily overwhelmed and grow frustrated when things do not go as planned. Entrepreneurs who embrace the unpredictable generally have higher degrees of flexibility in approach to work and are able to creatively find solutions to challenges.
9. Seeing the Bigger Picture
Success or failure of a business is often based on timing: knowing when to leap and when to stand your ground and analyze your options. Making these decisions requires a degree of patience and the ability to step back and contemplate the bigger picture. Impatience may lead to hasty decisions that could lock entrepreneurs in bad arrangements and deals. While entrepreneurs are expected to make quick decisions in the face of change, it is not advisable to be rash and make snap decisions.
Research from Wroclaw University found that the top three communication skills for leaders are effective listening, getting a message across clearly, and providing feedback in a supportive manner. While considered as “soft skills” these skills can put entrepreneurs at a competitive advantage. Here’s why: when a business owner is able to effectively listen to their customer, they can implement customer feedback that will help him or her to improve their offerings. Additionally, business leaders who exhibit these skills with their employees and team members are able to build trust which, in turn, can boost productivity and business performance.
These traits, along with a vision for what you want to accomplish, can make the difference between success and failure in business ventures.