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70% of the small businesses fail within a decade, with at least 20% of them failing to even make it past the 1st year. 

Over the last many years of working closely with hundreds of businesses (big and small) and observing hundreds of others from a close distance, I’ve seen many businesses flourish and reach new heights. However, an even bigger number disappeared into oblivion. 

I have always wondered, what’s the reason. Yes, there could be many – but being an executive and leadership coach, I couldn’t stop pondering over the patterns I have observed in the leadership of these organisations.

So I compiled a list of the top 5 leadership traits that I think are critical to the success of any business.

This might not be a complete compilation but I have put this down keeping in mind the current dynamic business environments leaders have to deal with.

While the likes of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, with their hard work, determination, and vision, led their companies to global heights, leading in this VUCA world is not a cakewalk. Leaders need to possess the right qualities, traits and skills that could help them grow and lead an organization.

1. Agility to Survive Through the Uncertainty

The world is constantly changing, even more so in this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment. Companies like Dell, Kodak, and Ericsson once used to be industry leaders. While these companies still exist, they are nothing close to their scale or level of the past.

Change is the only constant, and it is critical for leaders to be agile enough to cope with it. It requires a lot of agility for succeeding in a dynamic business environment where innovation, disruption, and competition are at historic highs.

In my interview with @ChuenChuenYeo for “Agile Leaders Conversations,” I mentioned, “Being open-minded is important to assess the situation and understand how to keep your principles in check, yet have the ability to adapt to what is going on around you at that moment.”

Check out the full interview here-

2. Genuine Interpersonal Communication

A common quality, I have observed in successful leaders, is their interpersonal communication skills. This does not mean that one needs to be a people person or an extrovert. The likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk have all agreed to be introverts.

When it comes to leadership, the communication skill is more about demonstrating empathy, active listening, and building meaningful relationships with the people around you. As a leader, if you want to effectively collaborate, adapt, make great decisions, and thrive, improving your interpersonal communication skills can be an excellent place to begin. Dare I say, it’s an acquired skill. 

3. Be Resilient, Like a Tree

I believe that leaders grow best when they face difficult problems or have to make critical decisions. So, rather than viewing such events as threats that you should avoid, picture them as opportunities or catalysts of progress and growth.

While knowledge, skills, talent, and experience sure are the foundation of success, the mental tools help the leaders navigate through the tough times. Check out my e-book on resilient leadership to know more.

[Download Resilient Leadership E-book]

4. Integrity is a Priceless Essential

Your investors, partners, suppliers, team, and even customers trust you with what you are doing. This makes integrity one of the most vital qualities of every successful leader. As a leader, you should always stand by your beliefs no matter how challenging the situation is.

As a good leader, your job is to inspire others without compromising your principles. But more importantly, integrity is about leading by example. Watch this @SimonSinek interview where he shares how leaders set the tone and why integrity is essential.

5. Excelling Through Innovation

Being innovative as a leader is not really about being the most creative or intelligent person in the room. It is more about providing others in your team the freedom to work on their ideas. There are a lot of people with amazing ideas who do not have the determination or will to take any action.

As an innovative leader, it is your job to encourage such people and ideas. You should keep motivating people to think out of the box and nurture their ability to be innovative and creative. Leadership Expert, Ron Crossland, offers some great insights about the importance of innovative thinking in leadership in this post.

Developing the Right Skills and Being a Great Leader

Every leader wants to inspire, contribute, and lead. But in this complex business landscape, this is seldom possible without the right blend of skills, qualities, and characteristics. But the good news is, these qualities can be acquired, developed and refined.

Do share your thoughts- I would love to read. And yes, do share if you think I missed out on any trait or skill. 

PS: Schedule an information session if you’d like me to help you understand the critical role of these qualities and how you can take steps towards developing these leadership traits and become one that inspires growth and sustainability in your organisation.