A Business Leader is a person or group in the business who performs cultural, visionary and executive leadership. Leaders make decisions and perform a number of governance functions for the organization such as Strategic Direction and Continuous Investment Review.
A Business Leader might be a Business Owner, Director, senior Individual or skilled Individual - Business Leadership does not have to be a role performed by an individual although that is currently the most prevalent model.
Business Leaders are, typically, primary stakeholders for Executive Dashboards and the top of the Bubble Up process. In Holistic Software Development we promote transparent honest leadership and recommend that Business Leaders engage directly throughout the organization with people rather than reading reports and making decisions behind closed doors. The most effective form of communication is talking to people, the best way to understand things is to go see them and talk to the people who make them.
"The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." --Ralph Nader
Most importantly, leaders need to treat individuals as human beings, not resources.
"The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves." --Ray Kroc
"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality." --Warren G. Bennis
Leaders are required to see and communicate visionary aspiration within their communities. A differentiating feature of leaders, is that they can often see a future that others can't yet. Leaders help an organization by aligning expectations, providing purpose for motivation and supporting experimentation through celebrating success and failure. Good leaders are a communication conduit to the network of people in an organization, connecting people together and helping the organization learn.
Leadership, not control
"To add value to others, one must first value others." --John Maxwell
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." --Martin Luther King Jr.
Control, and management are not leadership. Leaders make strategic decisions, enable others to provide value, communicate and grow networks. Leaders need to ensure that they create room for others to learn, experiment and innovate.
Leadership, not superheroes
"A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." --Lao Tzu
Leaders often fall into a trap of trying to be right all of the time, trying to be heroes that do everything. Some people are in it for the glory rather than the results. Leaders aren't expected to know all of the answers, they are expected to enable others to find the answers.
"Leaders don't hide the details from people, they expose the detail and the thinking justifying their decisions without argument" - HSD
The best leaders do away with hidden agendas by exposing agendas. Helping networks and communities evolve their agendas together, and then making the details visible. Communicating why a direction is the right one, rather than simply telling people it is.
We recommend that business leaders communicate their leadership intent by publishing their annual/regular objectives (linked to Strategic Goals) and progress against them on a regular basis. Transparent Leadership also involves leadership shadowing, promoting social business collaboration with direct communication from senior executives, regular floor walking briefings and promotion of open feedback. As mentioned in Continuous Investment Review, transparency around decision making helps engage a workforce with senior leadership.