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Business strategy, Management and leadership

Five must-have leadership skills for business owners

Five must-have leadership skills for business owners
Richard Kleiner

By Richard Kleiner

23 Mar 2020

Leadership qualities are something all business owners need for their company to stand the best chance of success and compete in industries and sectors that are often saturated.

Business leaders and entrepreneurs can be creative or business-minded, collaborative or authoritative. No matter what your management style, there are certain essential skills that business owners need; and just because you own a business, doesn’t necessarily mean you have the necessary leadership qualities.

Fortunately, good leadership skills can be learnt. You don’t have to be a natural leader to be a successful business owner. Researching and developing the leadership qualities of successful business owners and putting the right team in place to deliver your vision will help your business succeed in any industry or sector.

With this in mind, here are five good leadership skills commonly seen in successful business owners.

Problem solving

Owners of successful businesses know that every problem should have a solution, and no issue is insurmountable.

With great problem-solving skills, business owners can fix problems and mistakes without panicking or making rash decisions. They know that because problems are different in nature, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to solving them won’t work. Some problems might require strategic thinking to fix. Some might need input from other people (to utilise their skills or gain a different perspective on a situation), whilst others might need some “out of the box” thinking. By developing your problem-solving skills, you can face challenges head on and learn from them as you carry your business forward.

Leading by example

The most successful business owners lead by example and embody the values they want to see in their team.

Show your employees that you are passionate about your product or service, that you believe in your vision for the business and in the team’s ability to help achieve it, and that you live by the values you expect to see in your team.

Leading by example is inspiring and motivating, and your enthusiasm and drive will be reflected in your employees. As an entrepreneur, your company’s culture will be set by you, so it’s important you embody these values and your employees will follow your lead.


As a business owner and the person steering the business towards its goals, you need to be able to communicate with your team clearly, honestly and with emotional intelligence so that you can communicate and engage with people in different ways.

Have open conversations with individuals about what is expected from them and how their role fits in the long-term vision for the company. Feedback on what is and isn’t working in the business, and any changes that need to be made. Having an open and ongoing dialogue helps create a culture of inclusion, transparency, accountability and honesty, where people feel seen and heard. It also helps ensure everyone know what are the business goals and objectives, and how they can help achieve them.

Listening is another key skill in business leadership and an important aspect of communication for business owners. Your staff have unique insight into their role, department and how processes could be improved or changed. Asking for and listening to this feedback can improve ways of working. Listen to what your people have to say so they feel valued in their role, trusted and can share their knowledge with the business.


As a business owner, no one in your organisation knows or understands the business better than you. You probably know the business inside out, including every person’s role within it. But a must-have skill of successful business owners is recognising when someone can do a job better than you can. If you’ve made the right hires, you should have a team of people in place with the skill set needed to fulfil their roles and achieve your business goals. Delegate the tasks to them that they are experienced and qualified to deal with and trust them do their jobs. Doing so not only shows good leadership skills, it also gives you time to focus on growing the business and contributes to building a culture of trust.

Decision making

Business owners must be able to make decisions under pressure. Being decisive and making quick decisions with confidence is an essential skill, and one which business owners need to demonstrate often. It’s impossible to know at any moment whether a decision is the right one but making choices that you believe are best for the business is part of small business leadership. It’s also important that business owners learn from their mistakes and move on quickly if a decision turns out to be the wrong one.


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