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What Makes a Good Business Leader?

Leadership skills are the qualities and abilities that guide, inspire, and motivate others. It is important to have leaders who take control and provide direction. They ensure organizations can achieve their goals and staff can reach their potential. Effective business leadership is essential for companies to be successful. Leaders have good decision-making and problem-solving skills and support their teams to resolve issues. Good business leaders create positive work environments that motivate employees, encourage teamwork, and improve efficiency and morale. They are a role model for their staff and influence the workplace culture. Good leadership creates an environment of innovation, support, and respect, leading to positive outcomes for the company. Leaders ensure employees understand the direction the company is taking and can work to reach the destination. Leadership means showing staff how to perform effectively and monitoring task completion.

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Kevin Sharer – a leader who listens

Kevin Sharer is an American businessman who was CEO (chief executive officer) of Amgen’s biotechnology from 2000 to 2012.

Sharer describes himself as a terrible listener for most of his life. He was driven to get people to agree with him. Another leader told him that working in Japan had taught him to listen to people as he started listening to comprehend and for no other reason. Sharer thought about this and realized that as a senior leader, what mattered was understanding difficult information and getting the best out of his staff. He also understood that listening to someone is respectful.

As CEO, he can ensure the workplace has the right atmosphere by employing the right managers. Sharer wants his company to embody trust, respect, and teamwork, with a ban on bullying behavior. He admits it is not perfect, but he strives to have a culture where information is shared.

He believes strategic listening is important. He does this by visiting and listening to company employees who do not report to him. He reads as much as he can to gather information and goes to shareholder conferences.

He thinks failure can happen when poor listening results in the erosion of personal relationships, ineffective decision-making, and the inability to monitor implementation. When managers do not listen, they eventually lose team members and colleagues as allies.

Organizations that do not listen will fail because they will not understand that the environment or requirements are changing or whether their employees or customers are satisfied. In a dynamic, intensive workplace, the need to listen is paramount.

To listen well, you have to be self-aware. Sharer realized he was 90% speaking and 10% listening. He wanted to be more patient and change to a 50–50 ratio. He was used to hurrying a conversation so he could tell the other person what to do. He now believes it is about listening, thinking about what you have heard, and then making decisions.

He thinks senior leaders should understand the psychology of each situation. Their job is not just about deciding what to do but how to get it to happen, and this involves understanding how their staff are thinking so they can support them.

At one point, Sharer was working with staff to develop a five-year resource plan for a major function. The financial manager was concerned that the project leader would not be able to manage the costs and meet the financial targets. The financial manager was going to tackle this with the project leader and his team and come down heavily on them. Sharer gave him some coaching on listening to their concerns and putting them in context so they could relate to the information. As a result, the meeting was successful.

Leadership qualities

There are numerous qualities that characterize successful leaders. They involve motivating staff to perform well, efficiently completing tasks, and meeting or surpassing expectations consistently. Leaders may already have the qualities required for leadership, but sometimes there are skills they need to develop.

  • Strategy

Strategies are used for allocating resources, decision-making, and setting priorities. A leader needs to see the bigger picture and make decisions that benefit the company’s long-term success. The leadership has the company’s vision in mind and makes strategic decisions to enable the company to develop and prosper. They must use creative thinking to consider the possible outcomes of decisions. They should thoroughly understand the company’s strengths and weaknesses and be aware of possible opportunities and threats. This means collecting data and completing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. The leader must encourage their team to work toward a common goal. By setting realistic objectives and monitoring progress, the team can be united in their goals. Strategic thinking is improved by data as decisions are backed up by evidence. As new data becomes available, leaders can update their strategies.

  • Self-motivation

Those in leadership roles often produce quality work and have high standards. They reach or exceed aims and objectives. They use their abilities and skills to get the best performance from their team.

Leaders should be able to instigate work and complete tasks without supervision or input from others. They must see work through to completion and meet deadlines. By taking control and assuming responsibility, they are fulfilling their leadership duties. Good managers inspire their staff and are passionate about their job. They encourage and support their teams and motivate them with innovative suggestions.

  • Delegation

Delegation is a productive use of resources and time. It means leaders have more time to work on their projects. It shares the workload and improves people’s skills. This essential skill requires leaders to know who is most suited to a task and who has the time to complete it. Leaders must be clear about the task and ensure the resources needed are available and a realistic timeframe given. The leader can monitor progress and make sure there is enough support. It is good to check in with individuals as well as the whole team. When delegation is carried out well, it is a useful tool as managers who delegate can get the most out of their team.

  • Managing change

This involves planning, monitoring, and implementing change to achieve an organization’s goals. The leader follows a process that includes an assessment of the situation, a development plan, delegating tasks, and determining time scales. The leadership can focus on speed, flexibility, and adaptability. There should be an emphasis on continual learning, collaboration, and customer feedback.

  • Communication

Effective communication often forms the basis of a team. Leaders must make sure their team has quality communication methods. Anyone in leadership must actively listen and speak clearly with confidence. They must articulate their vision and discuss ideas with their team to create a productive workplace. Collaboration with the team involves finding new ideas, resolving problems, and making decisions. Working like this can mean teams are more efficient and positive. Leaders need to provide opportunities for communication with stakeholders, so they voice any issues and contribute to decision-making.

  • Responsibility

For a manager to take responsibility, they have to accept the ramifications of positive or negative actions. The manager will see the success or failure of the team as their own. The manager makes decisions and speaks on behalf of the team. They acknowledge success and do what they can to address mistakes. Managers ensure their staff complete work within the time limit. They keep to their schedules and achieve the expected results. They ensure that important information or parts of tasks are not missed. They are diligent and dependable and can be trusted to get work done.

Good managers can find practical and creative answers to problems in the workplace. They can analyze the issue and decide on the best way to resolve it. Their problem-solving skills help them identify new ways of dealing with problems. This ability can also help them build united teams.

Developing leadership skills

A good leader builds strong relationships, and when they inspire and motivate others, they gain trust and respect. This leads to efficient and productive teamwork. However, leaders are not made overnight but evolve through experience and professional development.

Leaders should be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding them can help in building on strengths and improving on weaker areas. They can use their strengths to optimize their performance and deliver work of a high level. Asking colleagues and employees for feedback on leadership skills can give more insight into strengths and constructive criticism to think about. This can be a useful way to see work performance from different angles and generate ideas for improvement. Taking a leadership assessment can give insight into strengths and weaknesses, increase self-awareness, analyze leadership qualities, and point to areas to develop. These tools can give direction for career advancement. Keeping a journal and tracking successes and failures over a period of time can increase understanding and give ideas for improving work performance.

Online management and leadership courses can help with learning the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective leader. They also provide opportunities to network with other professionals. Online courses may fit in better with work as they can be studied at a time to suit each individual. Gaining certificates can help to show commitment to learning and development.

Finding a role model can help in understanding what to do as a leader. A mentor can give advice, support, and guidance and help in deciding goals and aspirations. Talking to a respected and successful leader mentor about their experiences and how they became successful can be useful and inspiring. They can reveal their working goals and the path they took to reach their present position as well as give an honest appraisal and constructive feedback. The mentor and mentee need to be a good fit and feel comfortable together. Regular meetings provide an opportunity to listen and learn.

A leader should have a precise vision for their team so they can make decisions and offer direction. They can consider their short-term and long-term aims and then decide on a plan with SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound) goals. Leaders should think about their team when setting goals so they are realistic and align with their skills and the overall aims of the company. Goals can be shared with the team, who can work together to achieve them. Everyone will be working toward the same objectives and be held accountable to their manager.

If a leader makes a mistake, it is best to admit it, learn from it, and move on. Everyone makes mistakes and accepting responsibility can earn respect from the team. It can help leaders realize that no one is perfect. It is better to be realistic and expect staff to do their best work rather than achieve perfection. When leaders accept imperfection in themselves, it makes them more approachable to their staff. Having a team culture where members feel able to own up to errors can mean they are addressed and there is constant performance improvement. Failing is a chance to improve, and this means there is growth and development.

Leaders who ask employees for their opinion make them feel more valued. However, a good leader knows when to make decisions themselves and when to discuss with their team.


Leaders play an essential role in business. Learning to be a good leader takes reflection, commitment, and development. Leadership can be learned through experience and continually improving knowledge and skills. Successful leaders have many qualities that enable them to carry out a multi-faceted role. To be a great leader, it is necessary to continually learn on the job, work to reduce weaknesses, and make the best of strong attributes.