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In recent years, much has been made of the connection between strong corporate leadership and an organization’s success, as evidenced by high-profile companies such as Google and Microsoft. Many other companies have attempted to follow suit, transforming business leadership into an industry of its own that includes everything from leadership coaching DVDs, books, and live seminars, to team-building tutorials and retreats. What all of these business leadership products and services have in common is their intent to foster the skills and characteristics in business leaders that are conducive to optimizing the overall functionality of their businesses. Some of these skills include time management, the ability to motivate staff, and the ability to steer the business toward long-term growth.
Effective time management is one of the biggest challenges for anyone in business leadership. While hiring an assistant or buying an electronic organizer may provide a quick fix solution, solid time management strategies are imperative to a business leader’s day-to-day operations. In addition to effective organization and communication practices, one of the biggest time management skills is the ability to delegate. While some business leaders may not be able to effectively delegate tasks that are outside their realm of expertise, other business leaders have the opposite problem of “micro-managing” tasks which require no expertise and can be completed by other staff members. In either case, effective delegation involves eliminating the tasks best handled by other staff members in order to make business leadership the main priority.
The ability to motivate staff in order to achieve a happier and more productive workplace is a skill that’s often approached from a number of different angles. For example, while some managers feel that a strict dress code and structured work hours is the best way to foster professionalism and productivity in their personnel, other managers take a more relaxed approach to dress codes and are flexible with work hours. While neither of these approaches is necessarily right or wrong, each one most likely works best when it’s reflective of the company’s corporate culture. A burgeoning high-tech company is likely to attract a younger demographic that places a higher value on the flexibility of their work hours, and might therefore be more motivated by flex-time. Meanwhile, an established accounting firm might attract an older demographic that places a higher value on health benefits, and is motivated by a company that offers a comprehensive health plan.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of business leadership is the balancing of short-term and long-term goals. This means juggling the company’s immediate priorities, such as crisis management and cash flow while still pursuing the ultimate goal of growth. Depending on the vision of the company, growth might mean pursuing ventures with strategic partners, acquiring or being acquired by other companies, or expanding into new locations.