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Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Essential Leadership Traits

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Essential Leadership Traits in the Successful Small Business Owner — Guest post by Linda Forshaw

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John Maxwell

In the course of an ordinary working day, a small business owner might wear many hats, but rarely is there one as important as that of leader. All businesses, no matter their size, require a strong leader at the helm. The temptation of the small business owner may be to get “stuck in” and adopt a role as a pseudo employee. While there is merit attached to not being afraid to get your hands dirty, in essence to lead by example, the smart small business owner will place a greater emphasis on a wider leadership strategy.

Communication must be crystal clear
Having a clear vision is essential, but communicating that vision is an absolute must. Providing employees with a roadmap of where you want to be helps everyone to stay on the same page; to keep track of the bigger picture and work consistently toward achieving it. A lack of clarity filtered down from above will only ever lead to missed opportunities and ultimately spell trouble for the small business owner.

Strong relationships have a very long reach
Solid relationships lie at the very core of the operations of any successful small business. To listen to others is a vital skill, but it is also imperative to understand and to acknowledge what others are saying. People are the greatest resource in any business, so engaging in a meaningful dialog with employees, customers, and other persons of importance is a fundamental part of building relationships in the vein of strong leadership.

The best kind of culture comes from above
Most people will understand the destructive nature that can result from a culture that focuses almost exclusively on backstabbing and blame. The strong small business owner will set an example of trust and cooperation. The best place for a positive company culture to come from is from the top down. Passion, compassion, energy, and motivation – they are all an essential part of a solution-centric attitude that is best served from above.

Give them room to grow and you will prosper
As the old adage goes, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” To put it into a more modern context, the most successful of small business owners inherently understand the potential value of contributions that are made by others. The only way to benefit from such contributions is to allow them to happen in the first place. You never really know where the next great idea will come from, and if it comes from one of your employees, you want to be the one to hear about it first.

How will you lead today?

Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. The leading contributor to DegreeJungle, she is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay


The Product Management Perspective: Successful product managers build strong relationships with people, both inside and outside the company; clear communication is key. PMs, like small business owners, need to listen to others, and work with them to release successful products.

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2 thoughts on “Essential Leadership Traits

  1. Pingback: Essential Leadership Traits |

  2. Thank you Linda for this fantastic, inspiring post. I particularly loved this line, “All businesses, no matter their size, require a strong leader at the helm.” I have just started my own business and currently employ fifteen employees. Everyday I feel like I wear “many different hats” but in the end I am making my vision clear and trying to teach and motivate them as best I can. With this new business has come A LOT of research to make sure I am doing things as effectively and as accurately as possibly. This post really reminded me of a book I just read by author Bill Sims Jr., “Green Beans and Ice Cream” (http://greenbeanleadership.com/). The author clearly explains the best and the worst ways to motivate people, how to use positive reinforcement correctly *in all facets of life*, and most importantly how a behavior change can turn around your whole business. The author backs up these practices with anecdotes, examples, and official research. I think an essential leadership trait would be to treat your employees how you would want to be treated. Teach them how you would like to be taught. Lead them how you would like to be lead. Bill Sims Jr., shows there are three different kinds of positive reinforcement. There is tangible reinforcement in the form of money. There is social reinforcement in the form of verbal praise. There is also self positive reinforcement; this is motivation to do a good job for the pure love of the job. Green Beans & Ice Cream is the kind of book that motivates me to strive for excellence in my career :) Hope you give it a read!

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