LEADERSHIP IS NOT an easy role to play because it requires knowledge, skill, and in most cases, talent.  While most leaders are born, some are made, and, contrary to popular belief, you can learn and acquire leadership skills through reading and research.  Whether you qualify as a “born” or “made” leader, business leadership has a direct impact on the business and the economy, just the way political leadership impacts on the lives of citizens and the economy.

Behind every successful business lies a strong, pragmatic, dedicated and determined leader or leadership team. One of the key qualities of a leader is that he or she should maintain a good example to be emulated by the business’ subordinate leaders and employees. The following is a brief discussion of the virtues and qualities that a business leader should always maintain and uphold so as to maintain a strong public image and earn respect for him or herself and the business.  Aside from the obvious benefits, investors are likely to invest in a business that they feel is properly managed and that is managed by a customer responsive leadership team.  A good business must always think, walk, talk and look strong and responsive in the eyes of the public, whether they are publically traded or not.

Good business leaders are good time keepers; they respect and are strict on deadlines and delivery of all work within the set time schedules. In a well managed business, all financial reports, tax returns, customer and clients’ queries, complaints, and comments are responded to sufficiently and promptly. As time is always of the essence in business, a good business leader should never find him or herself apologizing for things not delivered in time. As a leader, set the example of all your junior officers by always arriving to the office early and delivering all your tasks and responsibilities on time. It is likely that every employee who works under you will follow the suit and keep good time.  Furthermore, never give excuses for lateness and always ensure that you plan and allocate enough time for all scheduled meetings in advance; if you can’t make it, send a representative, if possible. Punctuality will earn you respect from your juniors, equals and clients.

A good leader is always willing to assist his or her subordinates and peers when the going gets tough.  They don’t consider themselves “above” a certain task if their involvement is the only way it will get accomplished on time. A leader must ensure that all people are treated equally with dignity and respect.  Employees should be provided with an opportunity to air their grievances without fear of victimization and reprisals. A good leader is always approachable and judges fairly regardless of one’s gender, color, race, ethnic background, age, etc.; in short, a good leader is always objective and never biased. To maintain neutrality and a strong public image, business leaders should be apolitical and should not openly support any political movements, publically fund campaigns, or seem affiliated to any political groups or individuals as this may oppose customers or stakeholders who support an opposing politician or political party.

A good leader is one who is trustworthy and of high moral integrity.  Leaders must conduct themselves properly while in or around their places or areas of work. They should be icons and examples to be emulated everywhere; as a leader, obey all the laws of the land, and dress and behave properly. A leader should not accept bribes, kick-backs, quid-pro-quo gifts, or any other form of corruption; a business leader should never initiate or maintain open relationships with employees or fellow managers as this does not auger well with most people and is considered immoral.

As a leader, you should keep the private information of your employees confidential and should only divulge it where necessary and to the relevant authorities. In fact, a good leader is one who is open and whose subordinates feel free to pose their problems to them for guidance or assistance. Uphold the business’ codes of ethics and conduct; never allow domestic or social problems to affect your leadership strategies.  Even when you have quarrels with people outside of the business, ensure that you come to work sober and respond to your subordinates and any other people you interact with, while at work, happily.

As a good business leader, you should motivate and encourage your employees and other achievers in your business. You should applaud, support and acknowledge the good and positive work of your employees. All promotions and reclassifications should be based on merit and done without favoritism or discrimination. In the same spirit, all punishments, demotions and dismissals must be conducted fairly regardless of who the subject is. Allow all subordinates to work flexibly and without pressure; respect all labor laws and all other legislations regulating the employee-employer relationship. Allow employees to have a say in their management and working conditions and incorporate their views, aspirations and interests in your daily business leadership strategies.

A good leader must be able to make tough and fair decisions for the business; you should be ready to discipline subordinates who are disobedient, reluctant in work, who do not follow the company internal policies and regulations, and any other employee who is not conducive to moving the business forward.  It’s a smart move that you avoid employing relatives and friends in your business because as the saying goes, “business knows no friendship.”

If you embrace the above qualities in leadership, it is likely that you will maintain a very good public image, be respected and shine above the other business leaders.