What is An Ideal Leader in Business?

Woman standing with arms crossed with group of businesspeople sitting in background.

What would an ideal leader be like for your business? Every company wants to have the best possible leaders to motivate its workers and accomplish its business goals. Although every organization has unique needs and values, ideal leadership usually involves a core set of characteristics, abilities, and skills.

This article looks at the characteristics of leadership in business management, including the traits and talents a leader needs to rise to the top. We’ll also share an important leadership resource any company can use to improve the quality of its organization’s leadership.

What Is an Ideal Leader?

In the workplace, an ideal leader inspires people to be as productive as possible. They have good leadership habits and tend to spread these good habits to others and motivate teams of people to be efficient, positive, and goal-oriented.

What specific style of leadership is best? The answer depends on the organization’s industry, business stage, and company culture. A brand new tech startup may need a different type of leadership than a decades-old consulting company.

For example, one study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that transformational leadership was the most important leadership style for communication and technology organizations. Transformational leadership is an innovation-focused form of leadership that encourages people to strive beyond their immediate self-interest and accomplish greater things.

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Participative/collaborative leadership styles are commonly required in growing companies, charitable organizations, and those that require strong interpersonal cooperation. Healthcare companies often benefit from having participative leaders due to the service-oriented nature of the medical field. The NIH found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies with participative leadership styles were better equipped to cope with the crisis successfully than those with other styles, like authoritative and transactional styles.

Transactional leadership is often less than ideal. It views the employee-manager relationship as something transactional or limited in scope. Similarly, authoritative leadership takes a top-down approach where superiors issue directives to subordinates with little power to influence the process. These two leadership methods are generally viewed as less effective because they don’t solicit productive feedback.

Now that we’ve covered ideal leadership styles, let’s move on to the specific characteristics and abilities of ideal leaders. Below, we’ll explain some of the most valuable and in-demand leadership characteristics among business managers today.

Characteristics of Leadership in Business Management

Certain qualities are highly correlated with leadership success. A study of 300,000 business leaders found 10 leadership qualities to be most common among leaders at the top of their fields.

  1. Inspiration/motivation: An ideal leader inspires and motivates others to make a difference in the world.
  1. Integrity/honesty: These leaders always approach situations forthrightly and follow a personal ethical code.
  1. Problem-solving analysis: They rely on their analytical skills to solve problems and assess situations objectively.
  1. Results-driven work ethic: Rather than just letting the world go by, they act decisively and proactively to get results.
  1. Prolific communication: These are some of the world’s most enthusiastic and influential communicators.
  1. Relationship building: They take time to build and preserve valuable relationships personally and professionally.
  1. Technical/professional expertise: They’re leaders in part because of their outstanding professional experience and expertise.
  1. Strategic thinking: Their default mode of thinking is strategic and creative, looking for paths to success.
  1. Personal development: Lifelong learning is important to them, and they maintain a strong focus on growth.
  1. Innovation: They place a priority on thinking innovatively and finding new ways to be successful.

The last point about innovation is particularly relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A global health crisis leaves workers fearful of innovation and change and in dire need of effective leadership. A new GE global innovation barometer study found that 88% of business leaders say innovation is more important now than ever.

Inspiring and Supporting Ideal Leadership

Where are all the great leaders located? They’re probably all around you, waiting for the right types of nurturing and support. Emerging leadership qualities can be nourished into full-fledged leadership acumen.

At Leadership Resources, we’ve found that people with high leadership potential often display high emotional intelligence. This means they’re good at identifying the root causes of interpersonal conflicts and are eager to overcome their own limitations to find greater success.

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Great leaders also have the ability to build buy-in and use this as an effective strategy for business leadership building. Even if they don’t have a formal leadership role in the organization, they share their insights and spark motivation in other people.

Additionally, leaders know how to care for others as well as take care of themselves. They practice positive self-care habits that keep them in the right state of mind for accomplishing new things. This is also known as having a growth mindset.

An important point to take away here is that leadership isn’t necessarily natural or inborn, although some people are more naturally charismatic than others. Leadership is a cultivated trait that can be learned and honed with effective leadership development education.

To learn more about building the skills for ideal leadership, connect with Leadership Resources. Our programs focus on empowering emerging leaders with the knowledge and skills it takes to motivate successful teams and organizations.

Download our coaching services brochure for more information.

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