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What Makes a Great Business Leader?

Imagine working for a company where the leadership team is a well-oiled machine. They communicate effectively, make strategic decisions, and foster a culture of trust and innovation. Sound like a dream? Well, it’s entirely possible when you have great business leaders at the helm.

In today’s competitive business world, having an effective leader can make or break a company’s success. From self-awareness and credibility to relationship-building and empowerment, there are several key qualities that separate average leaders from truly great ones. This article will dive deep into what it takes to be an exceptional business leader and provide actionable tips for developing these essential skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-awareness, credibility, and relationship-building are cornerstones of effective leadership.
  • Great leaders empower their team, take decisive action, and lead with humility.
  • Continuously improving leadership skills through testing, mentorship, and learning is crucial.
  • Writing compelling recommendation letters can highlight leadership qualities.

The Opening Paragraph: Let’s be real – not everyone is cut out to be a great business leader. It takes a special blend of qualities, skills, and a whole lot of dedication to truly excel in a leadership role. But here’s the thing – effective leadership isn’t just about barking orders and expecting results. It’s about inspiring your team, fostering a culture of trust and innovation, and ultimately driving your organization towards success.

Qualities of a Great Leader

When it comes to the qualities that make a great business leader, a few key traits tend to rise to the top:

  1. Self-Awareness: You can’t lead others if you don’t understand yourself first. Self-aware leaders recognize their strengths, weaknesses, and how their actions impact those around them. This self-knowledge allows them to make more informed decisions and adapt their leadership style as needed.
  2. Credibility: Trust is the foundation of any successful leader-team relationship. Great leaders build credibility by consistently delivering on their promises, admitting when they’re wrong, and demonstrating expertise in their field. When team members trust and respect their leader, they’re more likely to buy into the vision and work together towards common goals.
  3. Relationship-Building: At the end of the day, leadership is all about people. The best leaders understand the importance of fostering strong relationships with their team members. They take the time to get to know individuals, understand their motivations and concerns, and create an environment where open communication is encouraged.
  4. Bias for Action: While analysis paralysis is a real thing, great leaders know when it’s time to make a decision and take action. They’re not afraid to take calculated risks and drive their team forward, even in the face of uncertainty.
  5. Humility: Contrary to popular belief, great leaders don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, the most effective leaders are humble enough to admit their limitations and seek input from their team. This willingness to learn and grow fosters an environment of trust and respect.
  6. Empowerment: Micromanaging is the enemy of productivity and innovation. Great leaders understand the importance of empowering their team members to take ownership of their work and make decisions within their areas of expertise. This not only builds trust and confidence but also allows leaders to focus on bigger-picture strategic initiatives.

Table: Comparison of Leadership Qualities

Leadership Quality Average Leader Great Leader
Self-Awareness Lacks self-knowledge, struggles to adapt Understands strengths & weaknesses, adapts leadership style
Credibility Makes empty promises, doesn’t admit mistakes Follows through, acknowledges errors, demonstrates expertise
Relationship-Building Maintains professional distance, limited communication Fosters open communication, gets to know team members
Bias for Action Analyzes endlessly, avoids risks Takes calculated risks, drives team forward
Humility Needs to have all the answers, defensive Admits limitations, seeks input, open to learning
Empowerment Micromanages, doesn’t delegate Gives team ownership, trusts their expertise

Developing Leadership Qualities

  1. Test, Try, Improve: Leadership is a skill that can be developed and refined over time. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different leadership styles and approaches. Pay attention to what works well and what doesn’t, and continuously strive to improve.
  2. Build a Support Network: No leader is an island. Surround yourself with mentors, coaches, and peers who can provide guidance, feedback, and accountability. This support system can be invaluable as you navigate the challenges and opportunities of leadership.
  3. Prioritize Relationship-Building: Remember, leadership is all about people. Make it a priority to build strong, authentic relationships with your team members. Get to know them on a personal level, understand their motivations and concerns, and create an environment where open communication is encouraged.
  4. Continuous Learning: The best leaders are lifelong learners. Seek out opportunities for professional development, whether it’s taking a course, attending a workshop, or reading books on leadership. Continuously expanding your knowledge and skills will not only make you a better leader but also inspire those around you to embrace a growth mindset.

Writing a Recommendation for a Business Leader

  1. Outline Structure
    • Introduction: Explain your relationship with the individual and the purpose of the recommendation.
    • Body Paragraph 1: Highlight the individual’s leadership qualities and provide specific examples.
    • Body Paragraph 2: Discuss their professional achievements and contributions.
    • Body Paragraph 3: Emphasize their potential for success in the new role or opportunity.
    • Conclusion: Provide a strong endorsement and reiterate your recommendation.
  2. Paragraph Breakdown
    • Overview: Clearly state your relationship with the individual (e.g., supervisor, colleague, mentor) and the purpose of the recommendation (e.g., job application, promotion, program admission).
    • Body Paragraph 1: Describe the individual’s leadership qualities, such as their ability to inspire and motivate others, foster teamwork, make strategic decisions, and lead by example. Provide specific examples that demonstrate these qualities in action.
    • Body Paragraph 2: Highlight the individual’s professional achievements, contributions, and impact within the organization or industry. Quantify their accomplishments whenever possible (e.g., increased sales by 25%, led a team of 20 people, etc.).
    • Body Paragraph 3: Emphasize the individual’s potential for success in the new role or opportunity. Discuss how their skills, experience, and leadership qualities align with the requirements and how they can contribute to the organization’s success.
  3. Tips for Writing
    • Be specific and provide concrete examples to support your claims.
    • Use strong, positive language to highlight the individual’s strengths and accomplishments.
    • Tailor the recommendation to the specific role or opportunity the individual is seeking.
    • Keep the tone professional and objective, avoiding overly personal or emotional language.
    • Proofread and edit the recommendation carefully to ensure clarity and accuracy.


As we’ve explored in this article, being a great business leader is no easy feat. It requires a unique combination of self-awareness, credibility, relationship-building skills, a bias for action, humility, and the ability to empower others. But here’s the thing – these qualities aren’t just innate; they can be developed and honed over time.

So, whether you’re an aspiring leader, a seasoned executive, or somewhere in between, remember that effective leadership is a journey, not a destination. Continuously strive to improve your skills, seek out mentors and learning opportunities, and never stop growing.

And to all the great business leaders out there – keep doing what you’re doing. Your ability to inspire, motivate, and drive your team towards success is what sets your organization apart. Keep leading with authenticity, empathy, and a commitment to excellence, and you’ll continue to make a lasting impact on the business world.


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