Aspiring Leaders and Business Acumen: Attributes for Success

February 1, 2023
What has been will be again; what has been done will be done again; There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

How many books and articles have been written about leadership?  Probably too many.  What’s the secret sauce?  As I see it, some people are cut out for it, and some are not.  Some are told they must be leaders and thus use the force of personality or level to achieve business goals.   Some have a more natural bent.  Many are somewhere in between.  Some aspire to be leaders but don’t clearly understand what’s needed.    If you’re an aspiring leader or would like a quick reminder, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about leading and inspiring others.  It’s not a complete treatise … it’s just food for thought.

Characteristics of people who can or want to lead:

  1. People exhibit a hunger for knowledge, and ongoing learning and benefit from the exponential effect of increasing business experience
  2. Those who can transform ideas, facilitate debate, and process myriad signals (market, company, financial, etc.) into actionable ideas for the future.

The mindset of people who can or want to lead:

  1. To stay ahead of the curve, people who want to lead our business students.  Reading, networking, and staying on top of things.  This allows for the kind of spontaneous rapport required to engage people and inspire them to think and be creative.
  2. Put customers first.  The more you develop working relationships with customers, the greater your insights into their thoughts, what they do, and even your competitors.
  3. Understand the power of empowerment because they understand it’s not “given.” Instead, it’s a give-and-take process built on the trust between people who work together toward common goals

Business Acumen is needed to be a business leader.

Business acumen is the term used to describe a person’s understanding of various business dimensions in play as situations arise. It’s a business common sense built up over time like surgeons or pilots hone their crafts. Here are some high-level considerations aspiring leaders should consider to improve their overall business acumen:

  1. Ability to see how a business operates systemically and holistically. Just like the human body is a dynamic living system, so is the ‘system’ of business.  Leaders understand how the gears of business work.
  2. Knowing that it takes a village, you can’t do everything yourself.  An army can’t do its job with only generals.  But a general needs to organize effectively to achieve the mission. And so it is with people, teams, and a collaborative spirit.
  3. Using data and processes to get work done and to fine-tune the business to keep things humming.

Suppose you’d like to develop a sixth sense for business (as a newer or aspiring leader) or understand how to improve your business acumen. In that case, you may look at this new business acumen assessment in my book, The Business Acumen Handbook.

Take the assessment, and you’ll see how you compare to the global database:  CLICK TO TAKE ASSESSMENT

Steven Haines is the Founder of Sequent Learning Networks, a training and advisory services firm focusing on product management, strategy, and marketing. He’s also the author of several business books.