24 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- One who sets the standards

Photo Credit: Greg Bond

A leader is someone who sets a high standard for quality and productivity in the workplace. They must hold themselves and others around them to this standard in order to be successful. This is not easy. It can be challenging confronting a colleague who is not living up to his standard and even yourself. At the end of the day, everyone involved will receive a sense of fulfillment knowing they gave it their all.

Thanks to Greg Bond, Renovation 320!

#2- Willingness to help

Photo Credit: Dan Bailey

A leader is someone who is willing to go to bat for the people who follow him. A leader isn't someone who protects his own interests and throws everyone else under the bus. He understands he is just one person, and those who follow him are the backbone of everything he does. This to me is what it means to be a leader. It's not easy, but it shouldn't be.

Thanks to Dan Bailey, WikiLawn!

#3- One who inspires others to constantly improve

Photo Credit: Guillaume Bonastre

A good manager is able to provide good feedback (constructive criticism). But a true leader also knows a lot about human emotions and motivations, and knows how to inspire his or her team. If you feel like your team is constantly improving, then chances are you’re a good leader. And if your team is constantly asking you for ways to improve further, without any ulterior motive besides this self-improvement, then you are a great leader.

Thanks to Guillaume Bonastre, Happiness Without!

#4- A number of things

Photo Credit: Renee Shaw

A leader in business is someone who is able to consider the needs of the individual employees as well as goals and deliverables for the company. A true leader has a big picture view of company goals as well as a focus on employee morale. A true leader in business is able to take employee work satisfaction into confidence while achieving performance indicators for success.

Thanks to Renee Shaw, That Little Blog!

#5- Getting the best out of people

Photo Credit: Audra Kershner

There are so many textbook definitions of a leader is supposed to be. But truly, the one thing that makes a leader stand out next to anyone else is what they do for their people. They inspire, support, and challenge those around them. Leaders have a knack for getting the best out of people. They realize that no matter what line of business they are in, it's the people they work with that will ultimately drive their success. No product, idea, or service will be worth a damn if it isn't supported by the right people in the right roles, led by the right leader.

Thanks to Audra Kershner, The Ambitious Dollar!

#6- Being highly empathetic

Photo Credit: Mark Purbrick

There is a substantial difference between a leader and a manager. When you meet a great manager you know how important they are, when you meet a great leader you know how important you are. I define leadership as the ability to be highly empathetic and yet not resile from making the hard decisions that could adversely affect individuals or groups of individuals. It is the ability to instinctively understand all sides of the argument and then have the courage to take a course of action that may or may not be popular but will be in the best interest of the organisation or peoples that the leader is responsible for. The key attributes that great leaders tend to exhibit are higher learning index, assertiveness and independence behaviors and lower manageability and accommodating behaviors. These are the natural leadership building blocks that should be nurtured, developed and measured if anyone aspires to become a respected leader in their field of endeavors.

Thanks to Mark Purbrick, Multirater Surveys!

#7- Responsibility bearer

Photo Credit: Blake Taylor

A leader is the person who will hold themselves accountable for the actions of others. All great leaders have faced scrutiny from things that were out of their control, taken it in stride, and come out a better person as a result. You don’t necessarily have to be the smartest or the most qualified person in your group to be a leader. However, you do have to be willing to make sacrifices that others will not.

Thanks to Blake Taylor, Synergy Business Brokers!

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#8- A guide

A leader is a man that doesn't tell people just what to do but helps guide his team in the right direction. He's more of a guide and uses his voice to encourage his team to become better. I believe he's the one that creates the culture in the room. The culture of your business can make it fun to work at or a total nightmare. It's your goal to design it and make everyone feel excited.

Thanks to Justin Galindo, JIG Reel Studios & Warehouse!

#9- No single definition

Photo Credit: Tricia Lewis

In my opinion, it is almost impossible to define a leader in one single quote, because we see so many different shining examples of leaders in our everyday lives. The kid who stands up to a bully on behalf of another student? That’s a leader. A mom who works through the day, yet still comes home and finds the time to help her kids with homework? That’s a leader. You can’t necessarily define a leader in one single quote, but you most certainly know one when you see one.

Thanks to Tricia Lewis, HackEDU!

#10- Enthusiastic person

Photo Credit: James Kilpatrick

I was a barista for many years before I took the plunge and finally started my own business. This has exposed me to leadership in different forms. Based on all that experience, I would define a good leader as someone who is enthusiastic about their work or cause and also about their role in managing employees or running organizations. I see the need for more people in leadership roles to be a source of inspiration and be a motivator towards the required action or cause. People will respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication.

Thanks to James Kilpatrick, Beanie Coffee!

#11- Culture setter

Photo Credit: Robert Bo Brabo

Leadership means being out front, going first where you ask your teams to go. Do as I do, not do as I say. To get there, the leader must take time to care, and take care to show it. When that leader stands, speaks, and delivers with care, passion, and competence, it's received with genuine trust and confidence in return. This is all encompassed in a leader that leads with a strong values-based approach, which can and will produce desired outcomes and an organizational culture worthy of emulation.

Thanks to Robert Bo Brabo, Hail Ventures & Consulting!

#12- Holding the reins of power lightly

Photo Credit: Clay Burnett

Big egos are not generally the hallmark of the most effective leaders. Really good leaders know that they are only as good as the team they have created and they have the self-confidence to let their employees function independently and work collaboratively. That does not mean they are totally hands-off, but smart leaders don't micromanage. They set clear goals and responsibilities and hold the reins of power lightly. And, of course, leaders like that, inspire their employees and they're a pleasure to work with.

Thanks to Clay Burnett, Clay Burnett Group!

#13- Holding the team together for a common goal

Photo Credit: Wayne Schoenberg

A leader is a person who has an urge to be of service to others. Leaders are people who will stand aside while helping others perform at their peak level, all in the effort to accomplish a common goal. Leaders listen to the people on their team, take input and ideas and then make a confident decision on how to proceed. Their goal is to assist the individual team members to work together in a group effort.

Thanks to Wayne Schoeneberg

#14- Having emotional intelligence

Photo Credit: Matt Scott

Leading people is not an easy task but it is a task a good leader would not be afraid of taking. In business, leadership is very essential. Not only a leader leads important business transactions and activities, he also makes the most important decisions that would either make or break the business. To be considered as a good leader, one must have a high degree of emotional intelligence. It is the heart and soul of being a good leader. A person can have all the best education in the world – the best training, the best mentor, the best skills – but if that person lacks the ability to control his emotions as well as to understand not only his but his employees' emotions as well, he will never be a good leader. He must be able to sympathize with his employees and to understand them on a deeper level in order to be able to connect with them. A person can be smart, analytical, incisive, and have an endless supply of great ideas but if he lacks emotional intelligence, he will never be a good leader.

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Thanks to Matt Scott, Termite Survey!

#15- A visionary

Photo Credit: Andre Oentoro

To be a successful leader and a true innovator, one must first be a visionary. This may be the most innate aspect of my definition — to have a vision and be motivated by an instinctual drive, is not a learned skill but rather honed over time. The second component is structure, a term for the foundation on which a leader builds his or her mission. A strong structure, or foundation, keeps a leader grounded while also providing the space and time needed to remain a creative visionary. And finally, people. People are single-handedly the most important ingredient. The team you’ve built to achieve your common vision will define your tenure as a leader.

Thanks to Andre Oentoro, Breadnbeyond!

#16- Being humble

Photo Credit: Jese Gary

Glamour and female boss moves are false representations to glorified characteristics around leadership. Leaders are not just making decisions and telling people what to do. A real leader is someone who takes responsibility when things are going great and most importantly when things are going bad. One of the biggest lessons learned from becoming a leader is humility. It’s knowing when to ask for help. It’s learning to look at how you have failed your team. It’s learning in difficult times. I went into entrepreneurship thinking it was a glorious position. In reality, true leaders are growing daily for the betterment of those they lead.

Thanks to Jese Gary, LuxeGiving!

#17- Several definitions

Photo Credit: Jitesh Keswani

Leadership is not just about bossing around, complaining behind closed doors, criticizing people or bullying juniors. Your employees need to be led and your job is to be a good guardian and work together to improve the company. A leader is the one who stops being a whiner and learns to ignore disregard. he is the one who believes in empowering problem-solving and learning environment wherein the employees are given their own space to solve their problems. A leader is the one who gives a chance to your employees to lead ahead with their ideas and solutions so that they feel that their skills are valued and appreciated. Leadership comes with huge responsibilities, change what you do, and not who you are!

Thanks to Jitesh Keswani, e intelligence!

#18- Captain of a big ship

Photo Credit: Andrey Korkhov

Only a leader has the freedom to choose his own journey. A true leader is like a captain of a big ship in an immense ocean. And only he decides in which direction his ship will go – to India or to America. And his greatest asset is not a ship but his team. Day by day a leader creates a powerful team to finally understand that his team is more competent than him and he can delegate any tasks to his people.

Thanks to Andrey Korkhov, Sarafan Technology Inc.!

#19- An intuitive character

Photo Credit: Josh Adler

Leadership is learned over time from people, experiences, and surroundings. Because of these, there will be some realizations at some point that everyone can make a difference in his/her own way. Thus, it can be defined as an intuitive character of doing what’s best for other people like colleagues, employees, customers, partners, and the like. This kind of leadership provides an opportunity for personal and business growth. Hence, leadership is a proactive approach to lead the transformation of the stakeholders towards sufficiency and sustainability.

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Thanks to Josh Adler,!

#20- Having a servant mentality

Photo Credit: Vivek Chugh

A leader is someone who is not afraid to get in the trenches with everyone else. A leader doesn't ask people to do something he or she wouldn't do themselves. They carry themselves with integrity, and most importantly a leader has a servant mentality always striving to make the life of his team easier by putting their needs first.

Thanks to Vivek Chugh, Listables!

#21- Leading by example

Photo Credit: Dave Glaser

Leaders need to exhibit sincerity, focus, vision, commitment, and a team player atmosphere. This old phrase is the key to build a successful team with top-rate employees. When you lead by example it's easy to set the tone for others to follow you. Leadership is facilitating all the various synergies into a successful formula, and allowing others to be successful without claiming the glory for dynamic output. A leader realizes that the people working under him are intuitive and can then take the lead regarding engaging all the talents that his staff bring to the table. That means listening to ideas, incorporating them into reality, understanding how to take the core of someone's input and then working with the team to brainstorm and think creatively as to how to best implement. When the leader exhibits and lives these traits, it brings out the best in people and becomes a winning formula.

Thanks to Dave Glaser, ECG Resources, Inc.!

#22- Resilience and optimism

Photo Credit: David M. M. Taffet

True leaders rely on resilience to recover from defeats. They embrace reality while maintaining the optimism to see a better future. They use tenacity to move towards that better future (even, and especially during difficult times). They use creativity to navigate unforeseen challenges and, perhaps most importantly, they emanate infectious enthusiasm to inspire others and maintain momentum. Leaders are present and aware. They have the temerity to explore new opportunities, and they embrace productive change. They make friends with their discomfort, and they always execute with excellence.

Thanks to David M. M. Taffet, Petal, LLC!

#23- Listening and understanding

Photo Credit: Michele Hall Duncan

John Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Leaders are charged with having a vision, convincing others their vision is actionable, and inspiring others to follow them. A good leader is able to hold fast to his/her vision while simultaneously considering the needs of everyone in the organization. An effective leader also listens. It is so important to hear what the people around you are saying. Your team sees the world differently from the way you do. Each individual on your team has insight that can and will be useful to your journey as a leader.

Thanks to Michele Hall Duncan, enCourage Kids Foundation!

#24- Embracing values

Photo Credit: Jordan Kentris

To me a leader is someone who embraces their values and empowers their teams to embrace theirs. They are champions of their team, celebrating wins and encouraging them to see other perspectives. A leader brings in outside voices to share their lived experiences to spark ideation and compassion.

Thanks to Jordan Kentris, A Good Day!

#25- A number of things

Photo Credit: Jayanti Kataria

The word ‘leader’ itself speaks many emotions. The leader is the one who takes the authority for the things they are entitled to. A leader is the one who looks after everyone and everything which concerns the business. A leader is the one who puts forth new tactics and to make sure everything is working fine. A leader is not just focusing on doing the management but a leader is also the one who come up with something new for the business.

Thanks to Jayanti Kataria, Moon Technolabs Pvt Ltd!

How would you define leader? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information 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 Blue16 Media.

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