5 Qualities That Make a Successful Business Leader

As we progress, our ways of managing businesses are also evolving. There’s a stark difference between the management structures of businesses established 20 years ago and those of the current era. New-age business results are more volatile, uncertain, complex and fast-paced than before. In order to stay relevant and profitable, leaders of these businesses also need to inculcate practices that help them run the show effectively.

In most traditional businesses, the corporate structure includes both leaders and managers, and these roles are sometimes assumed by the same person. But, there is a clear distinction between both the roles.

A business leader can inspire his/her team to succeed only when the management structure is efficient enough to carry out tasks. Further, a leader who wants to be effective must be careful when appointing managers, so that they don’t need to be micromanaged.

Successful Business Leader

Leadership roles involve engaging with employees and other stakeholders from diverse cultures. Leaders are, in fact, genuinely interested in learning about how people fulfill business tasks. Further, they are open to employing new methods and embracing those which are likely to be beneficial for the business. These traits require the willingness and the ability to communicate with real intention.

Let’s discuss some of the top qualities that are commonly found in successful business leaders:

1. They Can Manage Complex Situations

Complex SituationsIn a successful business, the management and the leadership complement each other, and their roles often overlap. Employees look up to a leader who inspires and encourages them to achieve challenging goals. One of the qualities of an effective leader includes being able to regulate his/her time, priorities, and state of mind. Also, a good leader is well aware of his/her strengths, weaknesses, and potential biases that he/she may hold. This helps him/her manage complex situations that may arise when running a business.

Even with tremendous potential, business leaders often succumb to pressure created by crises. Rather than panicking, a reliable business leader maintains composure and perceives the adverse situation as an opportunity to prove his/her caliber. Leaders maintain a positive mental attitude and manage a narrative that keeps their employees inspired and hopeful.

YouTube faced a complex situation when the founders were not able to predict the various streaming video technologies for the future. It was only after they realized the emerging patterns and creative ways of using YouTube that they understood the scope of the business. The leaders guided the company to build support and augment the platform’s services. YouTube sponsored a debate for presidential candidates with video feeds from official campaign websites.

2. They Focus on Vision

Focus on VisionLegendary business leader and former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Successful leaders have a grand vision that they want to actualize. They share their dreams with their people and inspire them to believe in the vision. Further, they lead them in the direction of achieving the vision.

In every business, it is the leader who sets the tone for the organization. The leader’s vision goes beyond the written organizational mission and vision statement. It is his/her powerful vision that drives employees to accomplish it through outstanding performance. They become role models for their teams and don’t hesitate to resolve matters when needed. This is how teams start accepting people with exceptional leadership qualities as their role models.

3. They Have a Global Approach

Global ApproachToday, cross-border business operations are extremely common and, therefore, having an understanding of global markets is inevitable to become a successful leader. Great leaders try to gather maximum knowledge of leveraging the opportunities available in different countries to progress further. They are able to do this by approaching critical situations with a global perspective.

According to a report by the Harvard Business Publishing, successful business leaders must invest their time in “assessing what’s happening with consumers, competitors, the economy, and the politics of the markets in which their businesses operate.”

Effective leadership involves using critical thinking to make sound decisions. For a successful journey, companies require leaders with a deep understanding of their current and potential buyers and their behavioral patterns. A lot of it involves tapping into emerging markets that offer new business opportunities.

Implementing a global approach when doing business also means ensuring that opportunities at all levels of the corporate structure must be open to people of all nationalities. In this way, business leaders bring diverse perspectives to the business and make the place more inclusive in nature.

One of the finest examples of geographical diversity is Atlanta-based conglomerate Coca-Cola. Since the 1960s, when Coca-Cola was run by South African Paul Austin, the company has had Cuban, Australian and Irish CEOs, leading to today’s Turkish-American CEO, Muhtar Kent and will be soon headed by British-American, James Quincey.

4. They Encourage Innovation

Encourage InnovationWith the marketplace witnessing ever-increasing competition, following a business strategy that has limited scope of using innovative solutions can hamper the company’s competitive edge. It is of prime importance to a business leader to ensure that the enterprise can adopt alternative ways to run a business.

Efficient business leaders are advocates of creative thinking and always emphasize innovation. This approach helps them focus their energy on taking the business to the next level. They are often mavericks of the business world, and pursue innovative business decisions even at the risk of not getting positive results.

In today’s era of startups, successful CEOs and home-based entrepreneurs are open to the idea of deviating from the traditional norms of operating. During these critical situations, they become risk-takers and encourage their teams to take calculated risks themselves.

Fostering innovation in the business is common among global business leaders and includes introducing a new series of product/service offerings, new business processes, or even new business models.

Innovation in business management can take numerous forms, and the leadership team of a company needs to identify the methodologies that need to be reviewed. Leaders often question the purpose of these methodologies and eliminate the less feasible options. What distinguishes them from regular managers is that they don’t look for the easy way out.

They give these issues ample thought, and seek opinions and recommendations from their teams. With the available resources, they evaluate new routes and then finalize the one that is acceptable by all important stakeholders.

5. They Believe in Inclusive Work

Goal-setting for a businessInclusive Work requires leaders to forecast and calculate projections. In order to reach predefined business goals, leaders come up with thought-provoking ideas that inspire teams to see the vision and achieve it. They work on the principles of inclusive teamwork and collaborative thinking, and know that these are the key ways to keep the momentum going for everyone. They are aware of how important it is for teams to feel invested in the accomplishments of the company and be appreciated for their contribution to every success.

Being able to inspire the staff to sail through tough times is a crucial trait in a successful business leader. It is a distinct quality of a reliable leader to identify the bottlenecks in the current issues and resolve complex matters with the team. Even when the team is swamped with work and the staff is low on morale, a leader understands that everyone needs to detach from work and recharge their batteries. A true leader keeps their spirit up and finds ways to keep them encouraged and driven.

Inclusive teamwork involves leading or participating in teams that have professionals with distinct personalities, motivations, and skills. Leaders are receptive people who understand the importance of interpersonal skills, and are approachable and engaging, despite the authority they hold.

Collaboration in professional capacities also means working with an array of diverse ideas and even contradicting opinions without deviating from the purpose. Business leaders often work with several employees and guide them, and their role involves both sharing and delegating assignments. Inclusive leaders have the ability to understand others and are able to empathize with vivid personalities and their aspirations.

During his tenure as CEO and President of IBM, Samuel Palmisano recognized that IBM’s traditional hierarchy and management structure was inhibiting the company from performing to its full potential. Also, he knew that in the 21st century, such archaic business methods may not work in favor of the company as the global market was dominated by product features and offerings.

That’s when he took the courageous business move of reorganizing a massive company like IBM that operated on traditional business methods into a “globally integrated enterprise.” The ethos of reorganizing and restructuring were entirely based on including inclusive values and collaboration. He introduced concepts of special bonuses to empower internal leaders to extend IBM’s culture at a global level.


Anyone can call himself/herself a business leader, but it is the ability to learn and implement new skills that makes a successful one. One needs to step into the role of a business leader with an open mind and be ready to learn something new with every experience.

True leaders are always ready to adapt to changes and are on the lookout for ways to improve their skills. Showcasing these leadership qualities makes them role models in the eyes of their staff, peers and the society, at large.