9 Leadership Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs
One of my favourite entrepreneurs to follow is Sir Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group) because, to me, he is the epitome of what an entrepreneur and leader should be. Screw It, Let’s Do It is the first book by Richard Branson that I read and I read it during a time in my life when I was contemplating starting a business, it was just what I needed to fuel me up. I went on to read a few of his other books titled Screw Business As Usual, The Virgin Way and Finding My Virginity. His books were so inspiring that I always told myself; one day when I start my own business, I would adapt his leadership style.
What I love about his leadership style is the fact that it’s unconventional. Branson is the type of leader that takes risks, is fearless, innovative and definitely a rule breaker; to me these are things that are synonymous to being an entrepreneur. Think about it, there is some extent of fearlessness attached to starting a business, its risky and sometimes you do not know if it will work or not. To stand out as a business, especially a start-up, you have to be innovative and disruptive, which means thinking outside of the box and probably breaking some rules.
I always follow articles on Richard Branson and there is one particular article I want to share with you because it talks about the leadership skills every entrepreneur should have. The article was written by Robert Half (an American Human Resource Consulting Firm) and is titled 9 leadership skills from Richard Branson. I will share the link to the article but below is my take of each point:
1. The Ability To Think Differently
According to Branson “Leadership does not have a secret formula; all true leaders go about things in their own way”. I agree with this statement because naturally everyone is different and every leader or manager wants to show what makes them different or sets them apart from others. No matter what leadership style you chose to adapt, Branson reckons that it should be one that works for your company and makes the most of the resources you have.
2. An Eye For Talent
I share the same belief as Branson that people are what makes a company, and nobody can be successful alone; the success of the business really depends on how well your employees are aligned to the company vision. Thus, the employees you choose should fit in with the company culture.
3. A Positive Company Culture
People spend most of their day at work which makes it so important for the work environment to be positive and bring out the best in people. As Branson puts it “80% of your life is spent working. You want to have fun at home; why shouldn’t you have fun at work?” As a leader or manager you should strive to make the work environment conducive not just for yourself but also people working under you.
4. The Ability To Delegate
I always judge a leader by their ability to delegate well. It takes real talent to empower and bring out the best in people. In my professional career I had both a manager that could delegate well and one that could not, I only felt like I was growing professionally with my manager who was good at delegating. She gave me the autonomy to think for myself, own my projects, make mistakes and learn from them. Looking back now, that was the fastest growth I ever experienced in my career and it felt good knowing someone trusted me enough to get the job done.
Delegating means you give yourself the space to be a leader and develop the people under you. This entails giving people confidence they need to excel. According to Branson, people like feeling wanted and they want to know that they are being listened to, which leads to the following point…
5. Willingness To Listen And Learn
I truly believe that everyone we encounter in life has something to teach us and as Branson puts it “As a leader you should always be listening. Be visible, note down what you hear and you’ll be surprised how much you learn,” Even the most senior person in the room has something to learn from the junior person. A leader should be able to create an environment where employees feel free to express their thoughts and ideas.
6. A Hands-on Approach
Personally, I dislike managers who lead behind a desk. Leaders need to be hands-on, they need to understand the ins and outs of the business. A true leader has to be willing to get their hands dirty with the team when necessary; this helps to create an all-inclusive environment and your employees will know that you can relate if they presented you with challenges they are facing in their day to day jobs.
7. Make Decisions (And Move On From Mistakes)
Being a leader sometimes requires making tough decision that not everyone will agree with or be happy with. While you need to be a hands-on leader, you also have to be firm enough to enforce your senior position when it comes to decision making. That does not mean all your decisions will always be right, you will make mistakes just like everybody else. However, it is important to learn from mistakes and move on quickly so it does not weigh the team down and create an unpleasant work environment. Essentially, you have to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk, Branson advises.
8. Attention To Detail
Having a leadership position often implies focusing on the bigger things at a strategic level. However, it is equally important to pay attention to the smaller things. Take the time to listen and be aware of the small challenges employees have. According to Branson, “If you place the emphasis on getting the little things right, and address the everyday problems that come up, you can encourage a culture of attention to detail”.
9. Passion For The Job
Passion is the one thing that always comes up when talking about people and work, due to the amount of time we spend working, building our careers and our businesses. Spending your day in a job or running a business you are not passionate about can negatively affect everything else in your life. You can truly excel to the best of your ability if you love what you do and do it with all your heart. Branson says “You are far more likely to be inspired and have great ideas if you love what you do, and can instil that spirit of fun throughout your company”.