How to Become a Business Leader Other People Want to Follow

Leading a business is a worthy goal, but your role as an executive alone doesn’t necessarily mean people will look up to you. Ideally, a business leader is able to not only achieve a notable status within his or her career but also displays conduct that makes other people feel inspired, empowered, and valued. Keep reading to learn some actionable strategies that could turn you into a leader worth following within the business world and beyond.

Make Your Actions and Words Match Each Other

People often say, “You’ve got to practice what you preach!” to emphasize how important it is to act in ways that reflect things that have been stated. For example, if you’ve always promoted your company as being extremely kind to the environment but then you decide to serve as a board member of an organization that is consistently known for its harmful environmental practices, people will probably raise eyebrows.

The same goes for how you treat individuals, and particularly employees. If you tell a team member “I really value the contribution you give to the company,” but aren’t even able to make yourself smile genuinely at her in the lunchroom, she’ll almost certainly start doubting your statement about valuing her is true.

Monitor yourself throughout the day and consciously check that your actions are supporting the things you say and vice versa. When there are instances of personal shortcomings (and there will be some because no one is perfect), stay humble by apologizing or clarifying as needed. In the case of perceptions about a business decision not matching up with reality, you may have to publish a press release that explains your motives.

Going back to the example above about serving as a board member at a company that’s not eco-friendly, perhaps you have been asked to lend your expertise because the CEO has heard you’re doing great things to promote environmental sustainability and wants to use your insight to make improvements. If that’s the truth, you’re not actually turning your back on your Earth-loving principles but people might think differently if you don’t set the record straight.

Create a Strong Culture of Leadership

People often have the impression that being a business leader means serving as a company’s president or whatever the highest-ranking role is otherwise. However, that’s not true because successful companies need leaders at all levels within the organization. That means it’s up to you to make sure that the desire for strong leadership is present within your company from top to bottom, not just at the upper tiers.

That often means partnering with team members from the human resources department and making sure they know how important it is to hire people with strong leadership traits who are ready to offer meaningful contributions to the company. It also involves not turning a blind eye if there is evidence of internal strife between departments or colleagues. When people become disgruntled, they can tarnish even the most glowing opinions of companies, causing formerly devoted employees to not feel passionate about showing leadership skills.

Willingly Work Alongside Your Employees

Some business leaders think they are too skilled to work among employees who have less demanding jobs. However, the best way for you to develop a rapport with team members and show them you truly care about what they do from day to day is to get involved in their tasks right alongside them.

Eugene Chrinian owns Factory Direct Enterprises, LLC, a licensee of Ashley Furniture HomeStore of Metro New York and New Jersey. Even after opening his first retail location, he stayed involved in every aspect of his business, doing everything from sweeping floors to putting furniture together.

This highly engaged attitude could bring a couple of advantages when applied to your company. First, it shows customers you care about the establishment so much you’re willing to do whatever it takes to ensure its success, even if that means rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty while doing less-than-glamorous tasks. Maintaining your involvement in every facet of the company could also make it easier to spot potential problems or better ways to do things you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

Give Back to Your Community

Business leader roles usually include elements of prestige, whether that means making lots of money, enjoying a very high status in your community, or both. No matter what, it’s important to have a viewpoint that goes beyond your own life and look at ways you could use resources to help people in your town, state, country, or even all over the world. Committing to doing what’s in your power to give back indicates you have a selfless mindset, and people tend to appreciate that.

These are not the only things you can do to become a business leader individuals want to follow, but they’ll get you off to a good start. Apply these principles to your life often.

Nate Ritter lives in Austin, Texas (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

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