How to Become a Great Leader for Your Business

Are you an MBA student who is looking toward a future of leadership in a company? Are you the leader of an organization, a department or a community-based group or event? Wherever we find ourselves in the grand scheme of life, we all are leaders, and we can find our path by adopting leadership principles that apply across the board. Some people don’t think of themselves as leaders — but in fact they are and just don’t know it. Are you ready to become a great leader for your business? Follow our guide of quick tips that will get you there. You may find some of them surprising. Let’s go:

Tip #1: Listen to Your Colleagues and Teammates

Any great leader realizes that he or she cannot experience success without the collective knowledge of the team. Every person in your workplace brings an expertise in something. This is something that Duke University’s MBA program does especially well. It is the top MBA program in the country, and it puts its students on diverse teams. It’s common to have a nurse, an English major, a engineer, a pharmacist and other diverse professional people on a Duke MBA team. They learn to work together and listen to each other. Every person brings knowledge to the table that is important and essential to the success of the team. The book Collective Genius, co-authored by a Duke MBA alumnus, points to this as well. If you want to be a great leader — listen to your teammates and value their opinion.

Tip #2: Enact Change Based on Input

It’s not enough to just “listen” or to pretend to listen. You really have to take Tip #1 to heart and then act on it. The most difficult thing to do as a leader is to give up what you think is the right thing to do and take a risk on someone else’s idea. Yes, it may end in failure, but there are lessons in failure that teach you in ways that nothing else can. You can regroup and enact new changes through failure. And so what if you fail? A little failure inspires risk-taking over and over again. It gets people thinking outside of the box and being creative. It gives your employees the freedom to be innovative and to change the culture of the company. The book Collective Genius points this out as well. Companies like Google, Volkswagen and others are successful today because their leaders allowed the employees to go with an idea. That kind of risk-taking inspires innovation and not only innovation in a single instance, but it creates a culture of innovation in which new discoveries happen, employees see the problems in a new light, and success comes through creativity. It’s difficult to let go sometimes, but it is essential for a great leader to do this. You cannot listen alone. You have to take a risk on one of your employees’ great ideas.

Tip #3: Lead By Example

If you’re not embodying the principles and ethics that you want those with whom you work to embody in your business, then you can’t expect to change the culture of a business. It’s important to lead by example. Come to work on time. Be compassionate. Ask people how they are doing. Give to causes. Speak up for those who are oppressed and marginalized. Motivate and encourage. By showing your colleagues who you are as an individual, you are instilling inspiration and respect. And your qualities then begin to infiltrate and change the workplace.

Tip #4: Encourage Others

If you want to motivate people, encourage them. Reward them for their work with your words of praise. Compliments that take to heart someone’s work go a lot further than let’s say a single, monetary raise. Why? Because when you motivate through encouragement, you are helping an employee believe in the company and that his or her work makes a difference in the grand scheme. And it should! Everyone wants to know that the time and effort they put into their work is noticed and worthwhile. As a great leader and manager, you help instill that by your genuine compliments. Try to think of one thing that is very specific to say to your employees, colleagues or teammates each week. Test it out and see what happens.

There you have it! By following our guide of quick tips for becoming a great leader, you’ll be well on your way to leading your company or project to success. It’s important to remember than none of us can reach our full potential without those who have gone before us and who continue to go after us. If you want your teammates and employees to follow you into the next big company adventure, you must motivate them, make them feel their contribution is making a difference, value their opinion by listening to them and not just listening to them but implementing their suggestions, and finally by leading by example. Try out these tips and see if you don’t become a new kind of leader in your company.

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