Business Leadership: The Fundamental Characteristics for Successfully Leading a Business

24 November 2023

Leadership is crucial in determining a business’s success or failure in a rapidly evolving business world. But what are the fundamental qualities that define an effective leader?

Understanding the Role of Leadership

Leadership is not just a position or a title; it’s an action and an example. A true leader inspires and motivates the team, leading the business towards success. This is particularly relevant for those aspiring to prominent positions, perhaps after completing a Master’s in business administration or a similar path.

Characteristics of an Effective Leader

In a recent interview, Andrea Lipparini, PhD, Professor of Innovation Management at the University of Bologna and Associate Dean for Executive MBA programs at BBS, where he directs the Executive Master in Business Administration, spoke about leadership, framing it in a context that is in many ways unprecedented, the historical one, and paving the way for a careful and profound reflection on the role of an authentic leader.

Lipparini reminds us that it is essential to distinguish the role of a leader from that of a manager in business leadership. Thus, while a good manager defines objectives, plans, and organizational structures, delegating responsibilities and monitoring progress, a good leader focuses on change, developing future visions and strategies to align the business with these visions.

An effective leader organizes people and aligns and motivates them, promoting an environment where empowerment is essential to quickly adapt to changes. The interview also highlighted three critical characteristics of a good leader:

  1. Awareness of fallibility: The ideal leader recognizes his or her fallibility and seeks to compensate for it through corrective actions. This approach is fundamental to addressing and overcoming mistakes, as demonstrated by the experiences of Hannibal, Caesar, and Napoleon.
  2. Inclusivity and valuing diversity: An effective leader works to value diversity and promote a meritocratic system. This requires an open mindset focused on listening, collaboration, and valuing different perspectives.
  3. Promoting transformation and self-realization: The best leaders encourage their followers to become leaders in their own right. These leaders involve their followers in self-realization and stimulate creativity and innovation.

These are in addition to the essential skills for setting good leadership:

  1. Vision: a leader must have a clear vision and the ability to communicate it effectively to their team. This is fundamental to aligning individual goals with those of the organization.
  2. Decision-making ability: Making timely and informed decisions is essential. Project Management course or a Master’s in data science  can provide the analytical skills necessary to make data-based decisions.
  3. Empathy and emotional intelligence: Understanding and respecting the emotions of others helps create a positive work environment and increases team motivation.
  4. Adaptability: The business world is constantly changing. It is crucial to be able to adapt, continue to learn, and stay up to date.
  5. Integrity: being ethical and honest builds trust and respect within the team and with customers.

Leadership Training and Development

An MBA can be an excellent starting point for those at the beginning of their careers or considering advancement. For those already oriented towards a leadership path, courses like the Open Program Leadership in Action, designed for those already managing people in business contexts, can be helpful. These programs offer a deep understanding of business dynamics and develop essential leadership skills.

In conclusion, we can say that effective leadership is a combination of different skills and qualities, but to be an effective leader, it is always necessary to lead by example, focusing on integrity and vision, with an eye on both the success of the company and the satisfaction of the people who are part of it.


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