Leadership in a business goes beyond assuming the mantle of a corporate office head. It is a set of ethics, values, traits, and strategies that top business leaders worldwide regularly display. So how can aspiring business leaders go about developing it?
According to research, only 1 in 10 people have natural leadership qualities. But given the number of successful business leaders today, we can surmise that leadership is a skill that can be learnt. While there are many leadership training programmes and schools, the best way to emulate the top business leaders of all time is to learn from them.
If you ever get a chance to glance at a famous entrepreneurs list, you are bound to find that every successful CEO is unique. That means each has unique traits and philosophies to approach various facets of a business: how to innovate, set up processes, motivate employees, drive revenue, or build a culture of sustainability. This presents those with the ambition to enter the world of business and gain invaluable, proven insights from how the top business leaders in India and abroad were able to build their reputations and success.
Here are four learnings you can incorporate to become an excellent business leader yourself.
1. Cement your thought leadership
As the Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv and President of CII (2022-23), he has become one of the most pertinent voices in the industry. Over the last decade and more, he has set an example of how to turn your expertise into a diversified, innovation-driven, people-centric enterprise with Bajaj Finserv. Now, as one of the top business leaders in India, Sanjiv Bajaj utilises many platforms to share critical insights into the present and future of the finance sector and is also a key authority whose ideas and inputs have the power to shape policies and the industry. As a thought leader, he constantly strives to push Bajaj Finserv to the top, positioning the company as a disruptor and a frontrunner in transforming customer experiences.
Learning – Use your expertise to build thought leadership and drive your business.
2. Challenge the status quo
Mukesh Ambani – one of the most admired business icons – had already cemented Reliance Industries into a global conglomerate. But he was not done. His foray into the crowded and highly promising telecom sector as India was going through its first wave of major digitalisation could have been a huge risk. But he decided to do things differently and challenge the status quo by providing heavily discounted data plans to meet rising consumer demand. Thus, Jio was born, and the rest is history. Today, thanks to Mukesh Ambani’s entrepreneurial ability, Jio is India’s leading telecom service provider.
Learning – If you want to be successful, take risks and disrupt the status quo.
3. Own your decisions and vision
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, is ever-present on every famous entrepreneur’s list. That is due to his extraordinary vision and remarkable ability to own it over the years. Top business leaders don’t just provide a direction – they also put their skin in the game and execute it. Satya Nadella did the same after becoming CEO in 2014 and overseeing Microsoft’s push to the cloud – a bold decision. But the relentless pursuit of his goal enabled Nadella to transform Microsoft’s fortunes through cloud services. He has also altered Microsoft’s corporate culture to one that values learning, growth, and personal development.
Learning – Take ownership of your goals as a leader and become a role model for employees.
4. Develop a growth mindset
Having a growth mindset as a business leader is extremely important, something the likes of Satya Nadella and Sanjiv Bajaj have greatly emphasized. It means developing a culture and an environment that recognises that every employee and resource in a business can be empowered to become more efficient, innovative, and successful. For example, Sanjiv Bajaj believes in pushing his employees and teams to think like owners and execute creative solutions to industry challenges. He has also created change-oriented teams – known as Centers of Excellence – at the workspace that independently drive innovations across multiple facets of the business.
Learning – Project a growth mindset onto your teams so that they pursue personal and organisational excellence organically.
A common thread that runs through the stories of the top business leaders of all time is their enthusiasm for learning about leadership at a young age. This is precisely what anyone aspiring to become a successful business leader and entrepreneur must follow.
Identify the leader you want to emulate and set their practices and ethos as your base. Then, attempt new things as a leader in your business venture and earn new experiences. Remember, continuous experimentation in finding your niche as a leader is where you can spot the right patterns for managerial success. How popular business icons in India and abroad were able to build resilience and overcome losses quickly will also help you recognise that success and failure are the two sides of the same coin.