19 Entrepreneurs Define What Being a Leader Means To Them

There's more to leadership than the mere responsibility. It takes self-awareness, great communication and a number of traits to be an effective leader.

So what does being a leader mean?

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners what being a leader means to them and here are the responses.

#1- Several things

Photo Credit: Joe Bailey

My definition of a leader is an individual with the propensity to inspire others in his/her charge towards a common, mutually beneficial goal. A leader is someone who understands the strengths of everyone in their team and finds the most effective ways of capitalizing on these strengths in order to meet the goals set. At the same time, the leader works to build cohesion and unity amongst the team members.

Thanks to Joe Bailey, Trading Skills!

#2 – Humility

Photo Credit: Carolyn Naseer

As a Co-Founder of a start-up management consulting firm whose core model is collaboration, I attribute humility to our success. As leaders, vulnerability and getting out of our own way has opened up completely new pathways for our business – everything from improving our relationships (with clients and staff), attracting high quality talent, and making larger impacts in our community. True leaders are endlessly curious, aren't afraid to fail, and are kind and compassionate in all facets of their work.

Thanks to Carolyn Naseer, My Change Agent!

#3- One who is daring enough

Photo Credit: Bethany Babcock

To me a leader is one who jumps ahead of the group unsure of of what dangers lay ahead and navigates the group to safety while taking on injuries and threats. When the journey is complete and it comes time to eat, they eat last or not at all.

Thanks to Bethany Babcock, Foresite Commercial Real Estate!

#4- Sets their teammates up for success

Photo Credit: Chris Baumann

Leader is someone that, aside from leading by example, might step in to do the dirty work for the team when needed. They watch out for the weaker links or players on the team, and know how to utilize everyone's skill sets for maximum effect. They can get everyone on the team to work together, set their teammates up for success, and will make sure everyone “gets out alive,” whether it's a rough sales call, a long meeting, or late crunchtime hours at the office!

Thanks to Chris Baumann, Socotra Capital!

#5- Personable and trustworthy individual

Photo Credit: Ross Davies

Being a leader is all about being a proactive and trustworthy individual that your team feel they can talk to about any issues they might have. It’s really important to remain personable to those you lead – otherwise you become a faceless entity that your team see as unapproachable. I try to meet with each member of my team once a day, just to catch up on what they’re up to and discuss any problems they might be having with projects or work. It ensures that my team feel that they can talk to me about any issues they have, while simultaneously keeping me up to date with project work. While this approach might not be perfect for leaders of larger teams or businesses, meeting with key individuals will make you much more of an effective leader, and help your businesses and projects run much more smoothly.

Thanks to Ross Davies, Strafe Creative!


A leader is someone who has a vision- a direction- of where the team or organization needs to grow in order to thrive. This same vision needs to be communicated by the leader in an inspirational way to the team. He (or she) needs to provide encouragement, support and guidance in order to implement the vision. A true leader will know how to listen to feedback from their team in order to make improvements to their vision. This same leader will need to take risks, and manage opportunity for the team or organization. With passion and enthusiasm, a leader can achieve the reality of their vision, never alone, but with the commitment of the team they have nurtured and inspired to work towards success!

Thanks to Michael Drake, PMG Home Loans!

#7- Beacon of motivation

Photo Credit: Andrew Schrage

To me, a leader is someone who is the beacon of motivation for his workers and team members so that all business goals can be achieved. This is done by providing direction and advice, but more importantly, making sure that the team all maintains a positive mental attitude in everything they do. He or she should also be an inspiration to all by living and breathing company culture each and every day. A leader also provides results for his or her organization in concrete and meaningful ways, not merely just efforts.

Thanks to Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers!

#8- A person of influence

Photo Credit: John J. Murphy

This influence motivates people to pull together and move in a certain direction as a team. This raises several important questions every leader must contemplate – and answer with credibility. What direction? Why? And how is this better? Followers want to know where they are going, or least that it is an improvement over where they are. They also want to trust the leader. Thus, highly effective leaders have a compelling vision, an inspiring mission, a high degree of integrity, and the ability to unite people as a team. They also know how to transcend fear and doubt, anxiety and stress – what I refer to as “miracle-minded management.” They are inspiring because they are in-Spirit – a state of inner peace, poise and fearlessness.

Thanks to John J. Murphy, Venture Management Consultants, Inc.!

#9- Effective communicator

Photo Credit: Shawn Best

A leader is someone that effectively communicates clear boundaries and expectations in an effort to mitigate misunderstandings and galvanize a team behind a common goal. A strong leader doesn't set these boundaries and expectations in a vacuum. As they understand how crucial it is that people feel heard, a true leader elicits the feedback of those they lead to incorporate their expectations into broader organizational / team goals. “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Thanks to Shawn Best, The Architects for Restorative Communities (ARC)!

#10- A number of things

Photo Credit: Tom Buckland

Leading means having a vision and sharing it with others. A leader knows when and most importantly how to motivate others A leader needs to be empathetic, emotional intelligence is paramount in leadership, taking the temperature of the workplace and the team, to be proactive, rather that reactive. Managing is the traditionalist view of leaders, but they still have to ensure that they are delegating and training their staff accordingly. Employees benefit from upskilling and this can be as important to them as pay rises.

Thanks to Tom Buckland, HQ SEO!

#11- Selfless person

Photo Credit: Joe Martin

A person who puts the needs of their team above, or in line with, their own.. It’s a person who understand their job is look out for the interests of the people they lead. To ensure they have what they need to be happy, healthy, and successful. Which comes from an active understanding of motivation and the human element behind the people on a team.

Thanks to Joe Martin, Martin Creative!

#12- Pacesetter

Photo Credit: Chris Smith

As a leader in my company, I try to inspire and motivate others to do their best by being a supportive and informative resource to them. It is almost guaranteed that every business owner, manager, vice president, or other department leader did not get promoted without showcasing their skillset in their previous position. You must set an example for your employees and help guide them in the right direction to accomplish their goals. A leader is knowledgeable, committed, has a vision and the motivation needed to manage a team. Leadership can be shown in different ways. Perhaps it could be picking up tasks that are not necessarily an obligation, but a leader would go above and beyond their role willingly. If you want to show your leadership strength, the next time you are assigned a task, make your work stand out from the rest by integrating input from the team. Someone who not only performs well on their own, but can also take on additional management responsibilities is definitely something to look for in a leader.

Thanks to Chris Smith, I Am Net Worthy!

#13- Long-term planner

Photo Credit: Cullen Raichart

A leader is someone who can keep the big picture in mind while making all the smaller day-to-day decisions. It’s so important to be able to always have the long-term plan in your peripheral vision even when you’re going full steam ahead in a linear direction. You must also be keenly aware of your own skill set, and hire people who enhance it and augment it in a way that drives the company forward. Be realistic about your needs and fill those needs.

Thanks to Cullen Raichart, GreenBroz,Inc.!

#14- One with a charismatic personality

Photo Credit: Bob Leo

Simply put, a leader is one who can attract and keep followers, and is measured by the leader’s influence. Often we mistake leadership for charisma or a particular personality type, when real leaders are those who seek to influence and add value to others, see them achieve their goals, work well on teams, and offer any service they can to ensure their followers are equipped and supported.

Thanks to Bob Leo, KnoxLion Enterprises, LLC.!

#15- Demonstrator of inspired leadership

Photo Credit: Susan Power

Inspired Leadership(tm) means to excite, encourage, or breathe life into. When you inspire someone, it is as if you are filling someone with confidence so they feel they can achieve something difficult or special. It is like blowing air over a low flame to make it grow. An inspired leader sees the potential in every person they work with and they tap into that potential. An inspired leader builds trust and demonstrates leadership through their words, actions, and consistently live their personal values and the organization's values. An inspired leader is motivated by a purpose bigger than themselves.

Thanks to Susan Power, Power HR Inc.!

#16- A conductor of people

Photo Credit: John Guerrier De’Bey

A leader is not someone who does everything independently as then he’d be leading himself. A leader is a conductor of people, he or she understands every person that follows them, their purpose and most importantly how to get the best performance out of the individual in a collective environment.

Thanks to John Guerrier De’Bey, GOTHAM TECH CORPORATION!

#17- Someone who is willing to put themselves out there

Photo Credit: Brandi Lewis

Before I was a counselor or an entrepreneur, I struggled with the definition of a leader because I am naturally introverted. I didn't see very many people like me, occupying the spaces that I do today and I questioned if I could be a leader. I believe in introverted leadership now. To me, this means that a leader is someone who is willing to work hard even when they feel afraid. It means that you are willing to be the only in a given area: the only person in your circle who does what you do, the only person who is willing to do things that others aren't willing to do to succeed. To lead means to do things that may have never been done. For me, being an entrepreneur is like creating something out of thin air and then making it into something meaningful. Being a leader also means that you are willing to be an example for your team and give genuine respect and regard to those who work with you.

Thanks to Brandi Lewis, Reach Counseling Solutions, PLLC!

#18- One who cares about employees growth

Photo Credit: Kyndall Bennett

From my service in the Navy, I learned from personal experience that a leader, a GOOD leader, was someone who genuinely cared about my growth, not just the job getting done. Back then as a small female straight from high school placed into a predominantly male workforce as an Aviation Structural Mechanic for helicopters, I can honestly say that I needed help and guidance! It wasn't enough to just tell me to do something and walk off, leaving me more confused than ever! The leaders I admired were the ones that pushed me out of my comfort zone but stayed close enough to answer my questions/concerns without abandoning me, ridiculing me for my limited knowledge, or just taking over the task for the sake of convenience. They were the ones that challenged me and helped me to see that I'm capable of learning just about any given task if provided the correct instruction. I will be forever grateful for their tough love and determined persistence to see me succeed.

Thanks to Kyndall Bennett

#19- Someone that people CHOOSE to copy and follow

Image Credit: Angela Bradford

A leader to me is someone that people CHOOSE to copy and follow. They become a top-level leader by example and learning how to communicate with their team or the people following them. When I meet a leader, I WANT to do everything they suggest. I want to emulate them.

Thanks to Angela Bradford, World Financial Group!


Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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