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Guide: Innovate Your Business | Part Three

Establish Leadership and Find Supportive Resources

Leadership Development

Forbes defines leadership as a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievements of a goal. Leadership is a concept, a word that places responsibility and respect into the hands of an individual. You can show leadership in so many ways and on various levels. Leadership should not be a topic that makes anyone feel uneasy. Leadership is the easiest way to discover where you bring value and how to use your key strengths.

With every amazing startup or company the common thread between those organizations is outstanding leadership. The individuals behind the operation. When looking at your own business what leadership qualities stick out to you amongst your team? How can you actively work to develop leaders within your business that will benefit your employees, yourself,  and the company?

Company leaders are encountering a new phase of hiring and retention. Approximately one-third of employees do not trust management. In addition to this, employers now have to cater to the needs of the millennial generation. On average, after graduating from college, a millennial will change jobs four times before they are 32. Now more than ever, creating a growth minded environment will attract the right employees and empower your current team. 

Qualities to look for and build upon:

  • Sincere Enthusiasm - Build leaders who want to be there and believe in the mission of the company. Enthusiasm is a contagious element that will encourage others in the team to show passion for what they are doing. That passion will be reflected in the work they do and to your customers.
  • Integrity - Doing what is right even if it is the hard thing to do. Build a team that does not back down or try to cover up mistakes. Find leaders who celebrate the small accomplishments, but also recognize when they need to pivot.
  • Communication - Communication is key within an organization and begins with leadership. Oftentimes, many problems can be avoided with the proper communication. Build a team of communicators that can take feedback and give feedback in an effective and efficient way.
  • Decisiveness - A good leader is not simply empowered to make decisions due to their position. They are willing to take on the risk of decision making. They make these decisions and take risks knowing that if things do not work out, they need to hold themselves accountable.
  • Empathy - Empathy is a quality many leaders have and is a trait that shows true character. Empathy is the ability to understand how others feel, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathy allows for leaders to understand their team and customers.
  • Empowerment - A good leader has faith in their ability to train and develop the employees under them. Because of this, they have the willingness to empower those they lead to act autonomously. Build a team that sees empowerment as a tool to build trust throughout employees and leadership. 

Leadership Resources

Anybody can act as a leader in an organization, regardless of their title. Even the summer intern or the new hire. In fact, these are the individuals who may have the best perspective on things. Encouraging new ideas and creating an environment where intrapreneurship is welcomed will say a lot about your company's leadership values. Companies that are serious about developing leadership within the industry should aim to support the growth and development of their leaders at every level.

Intrapreneurship - The term intrapreneurship refers to a system that allows an employee to act like an entrepreneur within a company or other organization. Intrapreneurs are self-motivated, proactive, and action-oriented people who take the initiative to pursue an innovative product or service.

Gallup’s StrengthsFinder: Strengths and Leadership.

Consider further developing yourself or your team through Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Finder materials. CliftonStrengths is a company with a mission to develop individuals, teams, and companies through capitalizing on and recognizing strengths. The assessment uses 177 questions to better understand yourself, how you work with others, how to use your strengths, and what areas you need to work on. The assessment measures your talents, your natural patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, and then categorizes them into the 34 CliftonStrengths themes. Understanding your strengths and your weaknesses is a quality that many leaders need. Request counseling from a Gallup’s StrengthFinder Coach here. You may also browse the many different resources they provide including leadership books and assessments here

Enneagram Assessment: Personality and Leadership.

Assessing personality traits has become popular amongst many companies and organizations. Understanding yourself and your teammates is important to achieve efficiency and effectiveness. The Enneagram Personality Test is an assessment that will take you through several questions and give you results at the end pertaining to a certain ‘type’. This free personality test will show you which of the 9 personality types suit you best. See how you score for all 9 Enneagram types, and understand where you fit in the Enneagram personality system.

The Enneagram is an emotionally focused system of understanding people. Each of the 9 types of the Enneagram has its own driving force, which is centered around a particular emotion. Some types experience strong emotions, while other types aim to avoid emotions in one form or another. Having an understanding of your own personality type and those of your team will help everyone work better together. As a leader, understanding how you work will help you best deal with people and situations. Send out this link to your fellow colleagues and see where you fall in the Enneagram system.

Never stop learning.

Even the most qualified CEOs can still find room for growth. Continue to find avenues to help you grow in your personal and professional goals. The ability to admit your mistakes or admit your challenges can say a lot about you as a leader. Learning can come from so many places and look vastly different:

  • Find professionals in your field and create connections with them. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those leaders that you admire. More than likely they will be willing to talk with you. It is hard to find help and get your name out there if you never try!
  • Seek out podcasts, blogs, books, or conferences that discuss leadership and growth. As for some food for thought, here are a few reads to seek growth as a leader:
    • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
    • Start With Why - Simon Sinek
    • The Icarus Deception - Seth Godin
    • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni
    • The Energy Bus - Jon Gordon

Resource Partner:

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) has served as the state’s unified voice for business since 1903. ABI’s mission is to nurture a favorable business, economic, governmental and social climate within the state of Iowa so our citizens can have the opportunity to enjoy the highest possible quality of life. For more than 35 years, the ABI Foundation has been dedicated to developing Iowa's workforce and leaders through statewide educational programs. Learn how to become involved in ABI’s leadership development programs by visiting https://www.iowaabi.org/abi-foundation/about/


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