I don’t mean to get carried away with the title of this post, but since reading John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I’m convinced that one of the key factors to being a successful business owner is becoming a better leader.

Here’s the good news – becoming a better leader is a learned behavior, just like most other skills we learn.

So, what exactly is this thing we call leadership?  What does it look like?

According to John Maxwell “leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”  Leadership may come in all shapes and sizes, but it only comes from influence, and that can’t be mandated by a title, position or knowledge. It must be earned.  The only thing a title can buy is a little time – either to increase your level of influence with others or to undermine it.

I believe leadership is misunderstood.  Many people mistakenly believe that by being a business owner or entrepreneur, you are automatically a leader.  Nothing, in my opinion can be further from the truth.  To be truly successful, a business owner needs to develop (and continue to develop) the necessary skills to influence not only the people in their organization, but their prospects and customers.

So what are some of the key elements of effective leadership?

  • Relationships – Effective leaders are able to develop relationships – the stronger the relationship, the more potential for effective leadership.
  • Knowledge – Information is critical to the success of a leader.  Knowledge alone won’t make someone a leader, but without knowledge, no one can become a successful leader.
  • Intuition – Effective leaders have a “gut” instinct when it comes to putting their “finger on the pulse” of others’ feelings, morale and energy.
  • Past Success – Nothing is more important to a person’s ability to lead than their track record of accomplishment or for getting the job done.

Here’s a quick method to access what factors you rely upon to persuade people to follow you.  For the following factors listed below, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10.  (1 means it’s not a factor while a 10 means you rely on it continually)

  • Character – who you are
  • Relationships – who you know
  • Knowledge – what you know
  • Intuition – what you feel
  • Experience – where you’ve been
  • Past Success – what you’ve done
  • Ability – what you can do

Now, try to determine ways to better utilize the factors with low scores.

Joe Costantino is owner of Business Marketing Success in Boston, a marketing company that helps professional service firms learn how to effectively market their businesses with a step-by-step marketing system.  He is also a certified Duct Tape Marketing Coach and East Coast Regional Guide assisting in recruitment and training of new Duct Tape Marketing coaches.  Joe also provides keynotes, seminars and workshops on a number of marketing topics.  You can learn more about Joe at www.businessmarketingsuccess.com or by e-mail at joe@businessmarketingsuccess.com