• Marlene Thomas

Building Company Success Through Persuasive Leadership

The nearly 8 million U.S. businesses employing one or more people have much in common. For example, core components of most businesses include elements such as administration, sales, production, marketing, customer service, financial management, human resources, and some form of a strategic plan.

Yet for all these similarities, there is one factor as unique as a fingerprint to each individual organization: leadership. The influence of an effective leader is among the chief reasons for the success of a business. For example, leadership significantly impacts company culture by embodying the company’s values, and then demonstrating and reinforcing these values on a daily basis. This in turn nurtures a thriving company culture which marshals the energy and talent of employees to fullest advantage.

Great leaders are mentors, guides, and coaches who enable others not only to develop individually, but also collaboratively and with a spirit of innovation that contributes to the overall success of the company. Increased organizational competency fueled by high employee engagement perpetuates a culture of continuous improvement and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Characteristics of Successful Leaders

Clearly, the mark of an effective leader is the ability to direct and influence others. But how do they do this?

· Successful leaders are effective teachers. They serve as models and nurture a cooperative learning environment in which employees are eager to learn and explore. This natural atmosphere of creativity promotes development of both existing and new skills, and naturally encourages steady performance.

· Successful leaders are collaborative. They effectively delegate to others and they build strong relationships with both internal and external stakeholders. For example, they understand that it is much easier to gain support from or to influence a subordinate with whom they have an existing and healthy relationship.

· Successful leaders are focused on the future. This includes both long-term vision and short-term goals. Because they have a thorough understanding of the organizational mission, they can effectively lead others in the day-to-day attitudes and activities that will take it there.

· Successful leaders are teachable. They are naturally curious and open to learning best practices from current research as well as from other successful businesses. They ask intelligent questions and seek to understand everything from general concepts to another person’s position.

· Successful leaders are comfortable with technology. Specifically, they understand the technology that best fits with their company’s industry and mission, and they use it to their best advantage, making their organization more effective and efficient.

· Successful leaders understand the power of persuasion. They are attentive listeners who seek to influence others by demonstrating genuine interest in their lives and ideas, and by communicating with conviction and clarity.

Developing and Strengthening Leadership Skills

The good news is that leadership proficiencies can be learned and sharpened. The necessary and basic requirement for growth is a teachable spirit. Whether through private coaching, online classes, industry-specific seminars, or individual investigation, opportunities abound for the motivated leader to increase in professional competency.

For those in existing leadership positions, it will be most beneficial to target one area at a time. Keeping a journal each day increases self-awareness and can reveal a weakness or an opportunity that might otherwise slip by unnoticed. Developing the art of persuasion through more effective communication or learning to handle success and defeat with equal grace, for example, are common areas of potential growth for which resources are readily available.

However, leadership development efforts will be most effective when they consider an often-overlooked foundational attribute: mindsets. According to this recent article in the Harvard Business Review, mindsets are “leaders’ mental lenses that dictate what information they take in and use to make sense of and navigate the situations they encounter. Simply, mindsets drive what leaders do and why.” Mindsets can be influenced and changed, but the first step is to be aware of their existence and effect.

The Legacy of Leadership

True leadership is not derived from a title. It is a position that is earned and cultivated through thoughtful, purposeful determination and a clear sense of mission. Change and improvement are always possible for the dedicated leader who embraces the challenge to be the best they can be.

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