I’m curious about what it takes to be an effective leader today; what do companies and other organisations want in their leaders?

I particularly noted an article by James Caan, one of TV’s Dragons and a highly successful businessman, where he explained that …

“a successful entrepreneur is not someone who is looking to take the easy route and be part of the crowd”

It’s the reason many people come to us for coaching and from our experience we’d echo his view.  Whether you’re an owner, director, or partner, or whether you aspire to be one, being a leader isn’t the easy route.  It’s far easier to stick to what you know and keep your head down.  But for the people we work with, that would be dull.  So they aspire to more and challenge themselves to achieve it.

Part of our role is to help you think about how you lead; the kind of leader you want to be, what you do, how you respond to situations and the pressures you put on yourself.  We often remind clients that by setting higher standards and targets, you are automatically making life more difficult for yourself.  It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or aren’t good enough – just that your aiming higher and therefore need to keep learning new skills, trying new things.

So how can you become a real leader?

Stand out from the crowd

In entrepreneurial businesses, leaders must be prepared to stand out, to make decisions and do things that others aren’t doing (or aren’t prepared to do).  You have to back yourself and your judgement – whilst knowing that you won’t get every decision right.  Take the initiative, make the best decision you can at the time, and deal with the consequences.

Be accountable

This is sadly lacking in some high-profile leaders around us, who hide behind or blame others when things go wrong.  But those around them simply hide their mistakes, causing more harm to the organisation.  Instead, you earn their respect by taking responsibility for the things you do and making sure you actually do them.  Success doesn’t come by chance – it’s consistent and persistent action.  And you accept that when you and your team try new things, they don’t always work out the way you’d planned.  And in most cases, it’s not the end of the world!


Whether it’s a passion for your business, for the clients, the product or service you offer, that passion gives you the drive and energy when life becomes challenging.  It’s also infectious, so your team and your clients or customers share that passion.  And you have to genuinely care about your team and your clients or customers if you’re to build long-term relationships and loyalty to the organisation.  And it all starts with you as a leader.  You have to “walk your talk” – show that you care.  Otherwise, why should they care?  Talk to your team about why your business is special, what the business aims to do or achieve, what you stand for.  And take an interest in them – it doesn’t cost to be human.

Be strategic

Look at the business model, so you know how you make money; otherwise you create an expensive hobby.  Look at existing activities to identify what produces the best return for the business, and identify or create new opportunities.  In entrepreneurial businesses the real leader is a focal point for generating income, building contacts and long-term relationships which benefit the business.

And what does this produce?

Real leaders who are human; who have fears and doubts like everyone else – but are prepared to “do it anyway”.

What do you think?
Leadership – Real Leaders