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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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Leadership is Equal Parts Instinct and Instruction

 

Some of the most capable leaders in the world were told at an early age that they would go on to do great things. Then there are others who came into power after a lifetime of living in the shadows, happily obeying orders and helping to maintain overall order. So, how does someone gain leadership skills in the modern world?

Part of it is instinct, which may or may not show itself in childhood. Other leadership skills are developed through experience, trial, tribulation, and even stress. Although many famous leaders are outgoing and ambitious, the very best are those who never stop listening and take advice to help hone their skills better.

Prior Failures Shape Great Leaders

Senator John McCain ran for the presidency and lost the bid, but he is still one of the most vocal, well-known, respected, and even feared politicians in the U.S. Since he ran a respectable campaign and gained the support of his party, his past attempt to secure the presidency gained him insight that is only available to a select number of politicians. Some could say that not being elected president is a failure, but what about all those who never even ran? The only person who can become a successful leader is one who tries. Leaders face failure after failure, hardship after trial, and in many cases, only the people closest to them know how hard things really are.

Determining How to Apply Gumption

In an age when Facebook and Twitter were the two most well-known social network websites, Instagram and Snapchat didn’t look likely to take off. There was already technology in platforms such as Skype and Facetime that enabled users to video chat with people, so investors couldn’t understand why any more social media websites were necessary. The founders of what have become the two most highly used social media platforms had to have a lot of gumption to go up against companies that were backed by billionaires. Good leaders follow their principles, even when they’re being scoffed at by detractors.

Learning to Be a Better Leader

Whether you’re leading a resistance movement, a government, a company, or even a boy band, you need to be open to consistent improvement. And you can’t learn to be a better leader if you believe that you are already perfect. One way of being a better leader involves putting yourself in the position of student, even if you already graduated college. Get a master’s degree if you have your undergraduate completed or embark on a doctorate if you are no longer taking graduate level courses. Programs such as the MBA@Rice will teach you everything you need to know on how to succeed in business, including leadership and management skills. Becoming a student again and taking a professional course can be far more beneficial than trying to develop the skills by yourself – it all depends on your preferred method of learning.

You can learn outside of a classroom setting if you have a mentor or are offered some form of an internship. Children learn leadership skills from their parents as well as their peers. Simply put, if you can find someone that you admire and position yourself so that you can learn directly from the source, you will be a better leader in the end.

Learning While On the Job

If you get hired to lead a department, hire new team players, or come into a company in a leadership role, you might be reluctant to ask for help. After all, leaders are supposed to know how to lead and take direction without any outside influence. Unfortunately, employers generally put a lot of pressure on managers and other leaders to be infallible, which makes those leaders not want to look inept by asking questions. A company manual simply isn’t going to prepare you for every situation. You should be able to learn on the job - any job - about what your leadership role entails. There’s protocol, company policy, and state law that must apply before you get down to common sense decisions. Don’t feel like your leadership skills are lacking if you are put in a place where your role isn’t clearly defined. Working in these kinds of situations can have you doubting your experience and knowledge but realize that every position just isn’t going to be a good fit.

A capable leader is going to know how to approach almost any kind situation. A competent leader is also going to be aware of what their role is. Certain people have leadership styles that are well received by their peers and subordinates. Other leaders will be more inflexible, which might make them well suited for industries such as criminal justice or even the military. Part of what you know as a leader will be ingrained from childhood and other parts will be things that you just have to learn along the way. Leaders learn skills in school just as easily as they do on the job. Learn to use instinct as well as instruction to become the best leader you can be.

  • Is the company able to pay debts?

  • How efficient is the company?

  • What is the projected cash flow over the next period?

  • How much can the company invest in expansion?

By utilizing relevant accounting information, you can make logical judgment calls that improve the efficiency of your business operations.


Legality

Good accounting practice that aligns with all the lawful regulations will help you avoid legal trouble. Tax considerations are important for large corporations, and incredibly complex. By engaging in proper accounting practices, you can steer clear of problems with the IRS. Accountants are relied on to provide accurate accounts, because filing with inaccurate accounting can be a legal disaster.

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