Solution providers, for the most part, are really small-to-midsize business owners. As such, they are leaders, bosses and managers. At the end of the day, anything that goes wrong is the business owner’s responsibility. And while solution providers may be experts in mobile technology, cloud computing, networking, virtualization and myriad other technologies, they also need to possess strong business and leadership skills.
Successful business leaders share certain traits that help guide them, regardless of industry. Here are 10 necessary things all leaders should have or should be doing to build and run a successful organization:
- Industry Knowledge: Good leaders must know their industry inside and out. They should be experts in the overall dynamics of the market, be on top of industry trends, know the competitive landscape and be visible—attending events, being involved in associations. This is extremely important in the technology industry, where new products, services and ways of doing business are constantly evolving.
- Business Savvy: Industry knowledge isn't enough to run a successful business. Leaders must know how to operate a business. This doesn’t mean they need to be an accountant or lawyer, but they do need a strong understanding of finance and legal issues. They must be able to read a spreadsheet and know the difference between a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement.
- Courage: Running or managing a business is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, boldness and sometimes fearless decision-making. A leader cannot be rattled asking a bank for a loan, dealing with a difficult customer, firing a bad employee or just going through the natural ups and downs of everyday business.
- Communications: Perhaps one the most critical attributes of strong leaders is their ability to effectively communicate. This includes being able to share their passion and business strategy to potential investors, lenders or suppliers as well as be able to get employees to execute on that strategy.
- Accountability: Leaders don’t pass the blame. The buck stops with them. Good leaders admit their mistakes quickly—whether it’s a bad hire, business decision or handling of a situation—fix the problem and move on. They act in humility and then set a course for correction.
- Delegation: While many would say successful businesspeople need to be paranoid, that is not true. Successful businesspeople need to be well-informed, engaged and be able to delegate assignments and trust employees. While good leaders should be abreast of nearly everything going on in his company, they also can’t be micro managers. They have to trust their employees were trained well and will accomplish the tasks to satisfaction.
- Teacher: Business owners can’t do it all. Leaders can’t lead if they are doing everything and unwilling to let go. A successful leader will also be a good teacher and invest time and resources to train the next generation of leaders. The goal is to grow a business, not be the chief cook and bottle washer. Many entrepreneurs start a business and 10 years later have basically created a job for themselves in that business instead of growing and expanding in other areas.
- Motivator: Attitude is contagious—good and bad. If employees see their bosses frustrated, down and unmotivated, they will be as well. Effective leaders know how to remain positive even in bad situations and have the ability to rally the troops to roll up their sleeves and work hard.
- Seller: All business owners, operators and managers are sellers, regardless of whether they realize it. If they aren'tt selling a product or service, they are selling a strategy, culture or process. Every good leader has a bit of salesmanship to either drive revenue or drive productivity.
Trustworthy: Last but not least, it all comes down to trust. Character and integrity are critical for any leader to get people to follow. Say what you mean and do what you say. Employees will work harder for people they like and trust. Do the right thing for your customers, partners and employees and they will want to business with you.