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Jorge Zuñiga Blanco discusses what it takes to be a better business leader

Jorge Zuñiga Blanco / Blog /

Business leadership does not exercise itself. In addition to a person with certain qualities and talents, strategies are needed to develop and condition them to the needs of each organization. Jorge Zuñiga Blanco, a successful entrepreneur and long-time business leader from Costa Rica, explains what entrepreneurs need to become better business leaders.

Leadership strategies are usually shaped over the years and based on the experience of those who carry them out. A leader with ten years of experience is not the same as another with only a few months. It is even different to take charge of a consolidated multinational than of a business that is taking its first steps.

Training also plays a role. Business schools around the world place great emphasis on the need to develop this skill to ensure good corporate governance and administration. The sustenance of this need is more than solid: without leaders, organizations would not exist.

There are many leaders, but they don’t have the same level of effectiveness and impact. The difference between them is in the decisions they make when it comes to playing their role and in how they relate to their work teams. There are different styles of leadership, different ways of exercising it, each of them with peculiar characteristics. “The leadership style affects the type of connections that are organized at work, in the work setting, and are a decisive factor in the execution of business goals,” asserts Zuñiga.

Autocratic leadership defines authoritarian leaders who like to be in control of everything and feel that they have the power. They are the decision-makers and do not usually take into account the opinions of others. They also often resort to intimidations and bullying to preserve their power. This type of behavior usually creates a work environment of tension and little participation. However, it also creates a well-organized work environment and allows for quick decision-making.

With democratic leadership, human resources are fundamental in the organization, and this is what it makes us see. They are people who take into account the opinions of others, so it values them positively and motivates its workers to participate. However, the leader also knows that he or she is ultimately responsible for the decisions taken and the repercussions they have. This style fosters a positive, participatory and collaborative work environment, but it entails a time for consultation that, at times, can be negative for the company.

Leadership “Laissez faire.” The expression “Laissez-faire” comes from the French and means “to let do,” which is precisely what this leader does. He or she lets the workers do their work, without exercising control over them and giving them responsibilities. Its intervention is minimal, since it only participates when the workers request it. This style can promote a positive working climate, since workers have freedom and believe in their possibilities. However, it is likely that without sufficient control and without the necessary support it will create conflicts.

There are two more leadership styles that have begun to appear more recently. The first is transactional leadership. In this case, the relationships that are established between the leader and his followers are understood as mere transactions, where rewards and punishments are established to reward the answers offered by the follower.

The other is transformational leadership. This concept of leadership is based on the ability of the leader to transform and improve the way in which workers perform their functions with the aim of promoting the development of the company. Look for positive change, new initiatives. These leaders inspire their teams and are a clear example of their philosophy.

Early theories about leadership claimed that the ability to lead was innate to the person, who was born a leader. However, current theories confirm that the leader is made and not born. The personal skills needed to be a good leader can be learned and developed. Self-knowledge is the key to success. Asserts Zuñiga, “If you want to become a great leader, the first thing you want to do is know yourself, know how you are, your values and imperfections, your abilities and your weaknesses. This fundamental step will help you discover what aspects you need to work on, what skills you need to acquire or empower to improve and become the leader you want to be.”

Have a positive attitude. This quality is standard among transformational leaders. Can you imagine a leader who surrenders to the first, who does not believe in his company or who can achieve his goals? Being and being optimistic is essential to overcome daily challenges. If you add to this attitude the enthusiasm and passion for your company and your work, you will be able to infect your workers with your spirit to work together for the same goal.

Enhance your communication skills. It is perhaps one of the most important skills that every leader must develop. Communication is key to effective business activity. It is as important to know how to speak as it is to listen. Train your ability to listen actively, your oratory skills and rehearse exercises to practice assertiveness.

Strengthen your resolving capacity. Your decision-making skills, your ability to negotiate, your conflict resolution skills, your effectiveness in prioritizing or your talent in seeking creative solutions are qualities that your followers expect from you. Being enriched with these aptitudes will allow you to stand out as a leader. All these skills can be trained and enhanced through different programs and are improved with practice.

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