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Leadership traits needed to gain competitive edge

Whether you own a business, manage a company or are employed in a business there are principles useful in any enterprise to gain a competitive advantage. Creating a high achieving work force is an effective way to make a significant impact in your business. Employee engagement is impacted by outstanding leadership. Employees are most important in the organization’s pursuit of its goals. Productivity, teamwork, performance and customer satisfaction all improve relative to the employees’ level of engagement.

Some of the strategies to be used in designing the effectiveness of a competitive business are:

1. Pricing — Find a way to control costs of goods and production so that you are able to offer the same or better quality product at a lower price.

2. Differentiation — To set yourself apart from your competition differentiate yourself with better marketing strategies. Determine what customers want and develop a niche market for your products/services.

3. Ownership — Don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. Make good decisions based on the broad spectrum of interests of the entire business.

4. Hiring — Hiring and developing outstanding talent will be most effective in raising the bar for your team. Recognize outstanding talent and be willing to move them through a career path inside the company. Become a coach.

5. Learning — Never think you know it all or are beyond learning something new. Always seek to improve yourself, your team and your company. Learning and being curious are two traits that will keep your organization vibrant and on top of your game.

6. Frugality — Do more with less. Be resourceful and self-sufficient while at the same time taking advantage of all the hidden abilities possessed by your team members. Pay attention to details and look for cost savings by auditing your processes regularly.

7. Inventiveness — Look for new ideas everywhere. Learn from each other. Be open to new thoughts, new ways of doing things. Expect innovation and invention from all your team members. Reward good ideas.

8. Set the bar high — Do not accept mediocrity. Lead your team to produce higher quality performance. Fix problems when they arise. Set goals and have high expectations.

9. Customer obsession — Work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust and loyalty. Obtain feedback from customers and respond with changes when needed. Don’t allow anything to deter you from your commitment to serving your customer.

10. Commitment — Real leaders must have conviction and be tenacious. Challenge decisions and ask questions. Have the backbone to disagree even though it may be uncomfortable. Be willing to compromise when appropriate but don’t compromise for the sake of social cohesion.

No company is perfect and there is always room for improvement. No one gets it right every time. However, a good leader is diligent, ethical and entrepreneurial. A good leader never quits. Review the principles outlined above and find the ones you need to place emphasis on in your own environment. The results will be enhanced customer experiences and customer loyalty that is enviable, which are the components of a real competitive advantage.

Becky Vaughn-Furrow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfulow@gmail.com.