Seven Attributes of Great Business Leaders

by Doug Fisher – Boardroom Metrics

Every business leader has their strengths and weaknesses.  My greatest weaknesses are taking defeat very hard and overcomplicating things I do not understand well.  There are an unlimited number of attributes we would all love to see in any leader, especially ourselves.  I offer you this list of attributes you may or may not have mastered but should, because they are highly desired and will be respected by the people working for you.

  1. A Bias for Action – Get on with it already! Your team hates paralysis by analysis. They respect caution to a healthy degree and understand risk mitigation but they don’t want to wait forever to get on with something that will improve their business.  Please, once you tell the team you’re going to do something – do it soon!  Demonstrate a healthy bias-for-action and your leaders will do the same.
  1. Clear Roadmap – Your employees should know where you are headed as a company. It might be $10MM in revenue or three more equally successful locations. Now… do they know how you’re going to get there?  That is a different question!  Have they studied and grasped a one-page version of your strategic plan?  Do they know the key initiatives that will propel you to an even higher level of excellence in the months ahead?  This communication is highly critical.  It is highly critical that you carefully explain how your company is going to improve and how that will affect their role.  Your team will hold you in the highest regard when you take the time to show them the roadmap.
  1. Humble & Accountable – When things go well, you high five everyone and give them the credit for the success. When things are not going so well, the buck stops here as you take full responsibility and avoid any public finger pointing. Your employees will love you and respect you when you pass out praise and assume responsibility for any needed improvement.  This behavior is quite rare and not easy to execute but it’s an attribute of winning leaders.
  1. Status Quo – Take it out back and shoot it! Quick! Show no mercy.  Change what you must to adapt to market conditions or the market will make you extinct.  If you are growing 40% every single year with solid profits, look closely and you will see many opportunities to improve your business process.  It’s easy to believe you have it all figured out.  I call that “ripe and rotten”.  The opposite is declaring the status quo as the enemy and fighting its existence always.
  1. Love Your Job – You will have bad days. It might be hard to smile because of something in your personal life. Perhaps you are really concerned about a situation with a key vendor.  When you come around that corner and face the employees in your call center or tech center, you need to be smiling and positive.  This will not be easy but the energy and culture in any company starts with you – so you need to do everything you can to be eternally spirited and positive.
  1. Follow-up – You are going to experience as much detail as anyone in the company. You’re going to say you’ll handle many things. You’ll hear many others commit to responsibility for a myriad of situations.  A great leader keeps track of all of these details.  Yikes!  The people in your business will only feel obligated to stay on top of the details if they see you doing the same.  It’s not as hard as you think.  Record every commitment and detail you experience.  Do it in your device or on paper.  Schedule time daily to convert those notes into reminders with alarms that will keep you on top of all your details.  Great leaders are uber organized… a bold statement I believe to be 100% accurate.
  1. Siesta – Your employees want to know you trust them. This is even more important to your executives. They need to know that – when you are gone – you believe your customers will be well-cared for, your workflow will be executed properly, and nothing will fall apart while you are gone.  When you take time off, take time off.  Disappear.  Have fun.  Relax.  Check in once a day maximum if you must.  Send a clear message that you trust your team and they will gain much-needed confidence.

There are many leadership attributes you will need to master to be a successful leader.  These seven are important and should be near the top of your list.  Put them in front of your eyes until they become habit.  You will be glad you did when you start to receive positive feedback from your employees, showing their appreciation for your improvement.

If you’re not sure how to pull this off, I have two suggestions.  You could read about how Ben Franklin monitored his progress with attributes or… send me a note and let’s talk!   I and the Boardroom Metrics team would be honored to assist you in taking your leadership to the next level.

I hope this discussion on the attributes of great leaders has you thinking.  Best…


“When you’re green, you’re growing’ when you’re ripe, you’re rotten”