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  • Writer's pictureGlyn Heath

15 Leadership Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

Being an effective leader, especially in the high-pressure environment of a rapidly growing business, can feel overwhelming at times. The old adage of being a jack of all trades and master of none doesn’t quite work for entrepreneurial leaders; they are expected to be jacks of all trades and masters of them all as well!


Leadership skills for entrepreneurs
Shedding Light on The Skills An Entrepreneur Must Master

Becoming the best leader you can be is a life-long learning process. In this article we’ll look at 15 essential leadership skills to master and continuously refine. We should all be able to recognise in ourselves which ones we’re already good at and those that need some development.


So here are the 15 essential leadership skills that every entrepreneur must strive to master along with tips on how to improve each one:


1. Visionary Thinking And Leadership

Successful entrepreneurs have a clear and compelling vision for their business. You must be able to articulate where you want the business to go, inspire others to join you on the journey, set goals and provide direction to your team.


Tip: Set clear and ambitious goals for your company. Regularly review your goals and make adjustments as needed and communicate any adjustments. Don’t go it alone; involve your team in these reviews.


2. Innovation And Creativity

Entrepreneurs are often at the forefront of innovation. You need to foster a culture of creativity and innovation within your organisation. You should encourage managers and team members to think beyond the norms and come up with new ideas and novel solutions.


Tip: Be curious and ask lots of questions. Take the time to wonder, explore, and consider different angles and possibilities. Innovation and creativity thrive in an environment where curiosity is encouraged and questions are welcomed so encourage this approach throughout your organisation.


3. Strategic Planning

Entrepreneurs need to develop a strategic mindset. You have to acquire the skill of critical and analytical thinking to be able to formulate and execute strategic plans. You should be able to identify opportunities, assess risks, and make informed decisions that align with the long-term goals of the business. Setting realistic stretch goals, creating actionable plans, and adapting strategies as circumstances change are fundamental to your effectiveness as a leader.


Tip: Take the time to develop a deep understanding of your organisation's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, analyse industry trends and market dynamics and think creatively about long-term plans and how these might need to be adapted in the future.


4. Decision Making

Timely and effective decision-making, often under pressure and with limited information, is a key skill for entrepreneurs. You must be able to rapidly analyse situations, weigh pros and cons, and make informed decisions in the best interests of your company to keep the business moving forward.


Tip: Quickly gather all the relevant, salient information you can in order to consider the different options available, consult with a reliable sounding-board and act decisively. Few decisions are irreversible so it’s better to make a decision and take action which then has to be adjusted than to prevaricate.


5. Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence involves understanding and managing your own emotions and those of others. It includes skills such as empathy, self-awareness, humility and the ability to build strong relationships. Understanding the motivations of employees, customers, and stakeholders is crucial to developing your EQ.


Tip: Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and employees. Try to understand the world from their perspective and the impact your behaviour might have on them. Use their verbal and non-verbal feedback to enhance your EQ.


6. Communication Skills

Entrepreneurs require strong communication skills in order to convey their vision, goals, and expectations to a variety of stakeholders, including investors, customers, and employees, both verbally and in writing. You must be able to listen actively, communicate clearly and precisely, give feedback and foster open and transparent communication within your organisation. In addition, persuasive communication is essential to sell your vision in order to attract new hires, investors, partners and customers.


Tip: Practice active listening and give clear and concise responses. Be open to feedback and be willing to change your communication style based on what you learn.


7. Adaptability

The business landscape is dynamic, and successful entrepreneurs must be flexible in their thinking. You should be open to change, able to pivot when necessary, embrace new ideas and technologies and respond to trends in their market.


Tip: Adopt an open mindset to get comfortable with change. Be willing to experiment with new ideas rather than dogmatically sticking with a rigid plan. Don't be afraid to admit when you're wrong and make changes.


8. Resilience

Entrepreneurship is a tough journey filled with ups and downs. Your resilience as a leader will allow you to bounce back from setbacks, learn from failures, and maintain a positive outlook to keep moving forward in the face of challenges.


Tip: Look beyond the short-term, here-and-now issue and zoom back out to the bigger picture to regain perspective. Surround yourself with positive people who can support you with constructive input.


9. Team Building

Entrepreneurs need to assemble and lead highly effective teams in order to build a successful business. This involves recruiting the right people and creating a supportive and inclusive work environment that actively develops each team member. You need to be able to motivate and inspire your team to work collaboratively towards common goals, delegate responsibilities and provide constructive feedback.


Tip: Set crystal-clear expectations with your team members and provide them with the resources they need to be successful. Encourage collaboration and communication..


10. Delegation

Entrepreneurial leaders must learn to delegate effectively. Trusting others with responsibilities not only relieves some of the workload but is essential in allowing team members to flourish by developing their skills and taking ownership of their work.


Tip: Identify tasks that can be done by others. Choose people who are qualified to complete the task and trust them to get the job done. Never pass on accountability and responsibility without the necessary authority.


11. Financial Literacy

Understanding the financial aspects of the business is a prerequisite for making informed decisions. As an absolute minimum you should have a good understanding of financial statements, budgeting, and financial forecasting.


Tip: Understanding business finance is a learned technical skill so spend time with a qualified accountant. Since financial statements tend to be ‘standardised’ you only need to learn the skill once!


12. Risk Taking

Entrepreneurs need to be willing to take (calculated) risks. You need to be comfortable with uncertainty and be able to make bold decisions in order to achieve significant growth.


Tip: Do your research, pay attention to detail and carefully weigh the risks and rewards before making an informed decision. Very few successful entrepreneurs have made it without taking calculated risks.


13. Problem Solving

Entrepreneurs will face complex challenges and obstacles on a daily basis and encounter unexpected problems regularly. Developing your confidence and ability (and that of the team around you) to rapidly and effectively analyse problems, adapt, develop creative solutions and implement them is a fundamental leadership skill.


Tip: Break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable ones, delegating where appropriate. Brainstorm potential candidate solutions that are actionable within the resource and financial constraints available to you to work with.


14. Accountability

Entrepreneurs must hold themselves and their team accountable for results. You should promptly and decisively admit mistakes, learn from them and share that learning.


Tip: The key to accountability is clarity in setting expectations. This involves being precise about the desired outcomes, how success will be measured, and the steps or actions required to achieve those goals.


15. Execution

Entrepreneurs must be focused on executing their vision. To do that you must be disciplined and clear in your decision-making about what to do (and equally importantly what not to do) and have excellent time management skills and focus to see plans through. More often than not, above anything else, an inability to execute is the root cause of failure.


Tip: To maximise the chances of successful execution a high level of discipline and attention to detail is imperative. This involves keeping plans under regular review, tracking performance metrics (KPIs - a topic covered in an associated blog here), communicating progress and milestones, addressing challenges and remaining adaptable and flexible.


Conclusion

Remember that these skills are not static, and on-going, continuous development is crucial for staying effective and improving your performance as a leader. Successful entrepreneurs actively refine and enhance their leadership skills to keep up with the evolving demands of their business and industry.


Developing your leadership skills over an extended period takes time and effort, but it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run. By being aware of where you need to strengthen your skill-set and applying yourself to improving you will become the best leader you can be and increase your chances of success as an entrepreneur.


Image attribution: Free Stock photos by Vecteezy


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