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  Leadership has been widely regarded as a vital component in the success of any venture, whether business, career, project or even government. This is why leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, stated that “everything rises and falls on leadership”. So, if you are going to be successful in your journey as an entrepreneur, then you need to build your leadership skills. There are no two ways to do this. This is because entrepreneurship involves mobilizing people and resources to achieve a set goal of solving problems and making profits. And that is simply what leadership is. Leadership involves guiding and inspiring a team towards achieving common goals and fostering an environment where innovation and growth can thrive.
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In the entrepreneurial world, leadership isn’t just about being the boss; it’s about being the visionary who drives the business forward. This article will share with you tips on how to begin building your leadership skills as an entrepreneur. First, we will consider what leadership means, and why it’s crucial for business success, and then move on to provide practical tips on how to build leadership skills.

What is Leadership?

Leadership can be defined as the ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute towards the effectiveness and success of an organization. It is the ability to take responsibility, mobilizing all available resources towards attaining any set goal. The set goal here for businesses is creating viable products or services that meet the needs of the market and bring in profit. Leadership involves setting a clear vision, communicating it effectively, and guiding a team towards achieving that vision. When you consider notable entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Tony Elumelu, you will see how strong leadership is key to transforming ideas into successful enterprises.

The Importance of Leadership in Business

Leadership is the backbone of any successful business. It provides direction, ensures the team remains focused on goals and helps navigate the challenges that inevitably arise in any business journey. Effective leadership can mean the difference between a thriving business and one that struggles to stay afloat. For instance, Elon Musk’s leadership at Tesla and SpaceX has been instrumental in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the automotive and aerospace industries. His vision, resilience, and ability to inspire his team have led to groundbreaking innovations and substantial business growth. On the other hand, lack of leadership can lead to failure, as seen in the case of companies like Enron, the energy, commodities, and services company, where poor leadership and unethical practices led to one of the largest corporate bankruptcies in history.

How To Build Your Leadership Skills As An Entrepreneur

1. Make a Decision To Become The Leader Your Business Needs
In my experience working with people as a leader and as a leadership trainer, one statement I always hear from people when they speak about doing their job is “I will do my best”, “I will try”, etc. While these statements are well-intentioned, I believe they lack the intentionality and will required to get the job done, irrespective of what the job is. So, I will always encourage and often insist that those I work with say instead, “I will do whatever is required to get the job done.” I believe doing what is required is better than doing your best because your best may not be enough. And that is what your business expects of you as a leader – to do what is required to achieve the required results.
2. Develop a Clear Vision
Vision is simply a picture of a desired future outcome or result. Having a clear vision is important in business as it acts as a roadmap for your business. It provides direction and purpose to your business, helping to align your team’s efforts towards common goals. As an entrepreneur and business owner, it is your responsibility to develop a clear vision for the business. When you have done this, take time to articulate your vision clearly and communicate it effectively to your team.
3. Improve Your Communication
Good communication is an important ingredient for effective leadership. You will need to communicate with your team, your suppliers, your customers, and your investors or shareholders. When you communicate effectively with these people, you avoid coming off as being untrustable or unlikable. This is why you need to work to improve your leadership. Please note, that communication involves not just speaking but also listening to your team. Ensure that you create an open environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and feedback.
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4. Lead by Example
As a leader, you are not just being heard, you are also being seen. Your actions set the tone for your organization. Demonstrate the values and behaviours you expect from your team. If you expect your team to show up to work on time, then be the first to arrive at the office, and do it consistently. So, whatever it is you want to see, whether it’s showing commitment, maintaining integrity, or exhibiting a strong work ethic, leading by example can inspire your team to follow suit.
5. Invest in Personal Growth
The importance of personal growth can never be over-emphasized. Many leaders make the mistake of having the “arrival mindset”. That is, feeling like they have arrived simply because they are leaders over people. This is a wrong mindset to have as an entrepreneur.  Leadership requires a continuous learning process. So, continuously invest in your personal growth by attending leadership workshops, reading relevant books, and seeking mentorship from experienced leaders. This helps you stay updated with the latest leadership practices and refine your skills. One of the questions I get asked the most is book recommendations for entrepreneurs. If you are still not sure what books you could read, visit this link to see 4 books you should read this year.
6. Build Emotional Intelligence
We are all emotional beings who live and work in social settings. So, emotional intelligence (EQ) is crucial for understanding and managing your emotions and those of others. Emotional Intelligence simply refers to the knowledge of your emotions and those of others and using that knowledge to improve your relationship with them. High EQ enables you to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically, which is essential for resolving conflicts and building a cohesive team.
7. Empower Your Team
As an entrepreneur, one of the responsibilities you have to your team and every other person who works with you is to empower them to become better. Empowering your team involves training them with the right skills, delegating responsibilities and giving them the autonomy to make decisions. This not only boosts their confidence but also fosters a sense of ownership and accountability within the team.
8. Adaptability
The business environment is dynamic, and adaptability is key to staying relevant. Be open to change and ready to pivot your strategies when necessary. This flexibility can help you navigate challenges and seize new opportunities.
9. Build and Encourage a Positive Culture
A few years ago, there was a viral thread on toxic workplaces and Horrible Bosses on Twitter (now X). The thread was mind-blowing, revealing the negative work cultures that exist in many workplaces. As a business leader, understand this, positive organizational culture can significantly impact employee morale and productivity. Your employees are your business’s Ambassadors. They are the mirror through which your customers and the rest of the world see your business and you, the leader. So, encourage collaboration, recognize achievements, and create a supportive work environment. A happy team is often a productive team.
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Concluding Thoughts:

Building leadership skills is a journey that requires dedication, self-awareness, and continuous improvement. For entrepreneurs, the importance of strong leadership can never be overemphasized as it can be the catalyst that transforms your businesses into successful enterprises. This post has provided tips on how as an entrepreneur, you can build the leadership skills necessary to steer your business towards success. Remember, the success of your entrepreneurial venture hinges not just on your ideas but on your ability to lead and inspire those around you.
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This article was first published on 3rd July 2024


Ifegwu-Mbonu Victor is a Personal Growth and Leadership Trainer who provides training and coaching to individuals and organizations.

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