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There are many skills that are essential to becoming a successful entrepreneur. You must have knowledge of your industry. An understanding of your target audience. And of course, the ability to differentiate your product or service from everyone else in your niche.

But while all of these attributes are essential to success, a focus on these areas often causes emerging entrepreneurs to overlook an equally important trait: leadership.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Parwiz Daud, CNO at Validus. During our conversation, Dr. Daud highlighted how crucial it is for entrepreneurs to develop their own leadership skills, and how these play a role in their business.

Leaders Establish the Vision

“Every entrepreneur starts with some kind of goal that they want to accomplish with their business, but true leaders turn this into a vision that they can share with others to inspire them,” Dr. Daud explains.

“Leaders set the tone for their business and how it will make a difference in the world. They are then responsible for communicating that to their employees, business partners and clients. This is a valuable skill in and of itself, because that vision is what encourages buy-in from others. Without your leadership to guide the way, the vision becomes little more than an empty statement.”

With that in mind, leaders must find ways to incorporate their sense of vision at all levels of the company. The vision should be instilled in the organization’s values and practices — particularly in how it engages with clients.

Most importantly, however, leaders set the example for others to follow. When a leader’s actions are in line with their stated vision, their team will follow suit — making business goals much more attainable.

As leaders, entrepreneurs must use their vision to guide their decision making, while also relying on other reliable sources of information (such as internal data). When your team is debating different potential courses of action, the most effective leaders strive to ensure that the final decision is in line with their vision and values. A strong sense of vision can also help leaders turn challenges into opportunities.

Leadership As Your Ultimate Differentiator

“Today’s workers crave quality leadership more than ever — but all too often, the leaders within their companies are falling short,” Dr. Daud says. “When you are able to demonstrate true leadership that engages your employees and business partners, treats them with respect and helps with their own career goals, you can turn your business into a desirable destination for top talent. Simply getting more quality talent through your door can make all the difference for the growth of your emerging business.”

Just how powerful can your leadership be? It is estimated that only 48 percent of employees feel their company has high quality leadership — and 77 percent of businesses feel their leadership is lacking. 

Empathetic leaders ensure that their employees and business partners feel heard and valued. They provide growth opportunities and look for ways to help team members become more engaged. This could be as simple as offering recognition for a job well done or laying out an achievable roadmap for advancement within the business.

Such actions can directly counteract many of the leading causes behind the Great Resignation, such as feeling disrespected at work or not having opportunities for advancement. Instead, your emerging business can become a place where people want to work for the long term.

Understanding Essential Leadership Traits

While the value of strong leadership is abundantly clear, many entrepreneurs remain uncertain as to what their leadership should look like. To that end, Dr. Daud highlights a few key skills that he believes all entrepreneurs should strive to develop.

“Great leaders find positive ways to motivate their teams, such as expressing gratitude for their contributions. They work with employees and business partners to set goals aligned with the company’s vision and provide constructive feedback to help them achieve those goals. Leaders strive to create an environment of communication and collaboration, finding healthy resolutions to conflict when setbacks occur. They serve as a firm voice of reason that others can trust to provide sound guidance for any situation in the workplace.”

Successful leadership ultimately defines how you are able to interact with those who work with you. By incorporating these attributes into the way you lead your team, you can earn their trust, driving motivation and engagement.

Demonstrating these attributes of successful leadership also provides a valuable example for others in your organization to follow. A leader’s example sets the tone for the entire company culture. If you want to create an inviting and supportive work environment free of toxicity, you must set the expectations and example.

Become a Better Leader

Entrepreneurs should always consider their role as a leader and how they can improve. Like developing any other skill, becoming a better leader requires practice and diligence — but it can be done.

As Dr. Daud explains, “Every effort makes a difference. The more you do to improve your leadership abilities, the better equipped you’ll be to handle the ups and downs that are a natural part of entrepreneurship. You’ll be able to guide your team through whatever situations come your way, helping everyone achieve their best results. Your ability to lead will ultimately determine your potential for lasting success.”

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