How to be a successful business leader

By Christina Bentley on September 27, 2019

Leadership tips from Lead Tech’s founders

Nigel Borwell and Paul Walsh founded Lead Tech over a decade ago, driving the company to become a leader in the UK lead generation sector. In our latest article, they share their advice on what makes an effective business leader and the importance of work culture.

Q – What key skills do you need as a CEO?

PW – Being a CEO is very entrepreneurial. Drive and commerciality are essential aspects of the role, so there’s a real benefit in creativity and finding new solutions to problems. The other fundamental skills are using and developing your emotional intelligence. To be a capable leader, you need to be able to put yourself in the mindset of people from across the business.

NB – I’m glad Paul mentioned emotional intelligence. I believe the best leaders are empathetic. It’s important to put yourself in others’ shoes when you manage a team. If you can understand your employees’ challenges, you’ll better understand how to support them and form stronger working relationships.

Communication is important at all levels, from the ability to communicate to the wider business down to individuals. Strong leadership and sales skills will also help you encourage people to buy into your company vision.

Q – What do you find most rewarding about leadership?

NB – What I find most rewarding is providing real value to our customers and partners and seeing the business improve as a result of the people that drive it. The passion, pride and commitment I see on a daily basis from our teams to deliver our company vision is a constant source of inspiration.

PW – I completely agree. Seeing your business grow is satisfying, but supporting people is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. My expertise gives me the opportunity to mentor and aid the development of senior people in the business.

For me, it’s about driving our people to succeed. If you build a healthy company culture, it outweighs the importance of business strategy and will always have a positive impact on financial performance.

Q – Do you have any advice for aspiring business leaders?

PW – It took me a long time to understand it, but people are the key to getting where you want to be. Entrepreneurs often think they need to be one-man-bands, but you can’t do everything yourself.

Many people don’t want to give up control and are afraid of breaking that image. You need to be strong enough to step away and employ people that are better than you. A good team will have the skills and experience to help you develop the business.

NB – My best advice is to think about the value your product or service brings to your customers, create a business that people want to work for and build an environment that makes people want to come to work every day.

It’s also important to maintain balance. When you work in a fast-paced and exciting industry like lead generation, the long hours can take their toll. You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed, taking work home because you’ve been in meetings all day. I’ve learned to delegate tasks and prioritise organisation. Eating healthy, exercise and meditation are other tools I use to balance myself.

Q – What are key things to look for when you’re building a team?

NB – Skills and experience are always important, but in my opinion, it’s about finding passionate people with the right attitude, motivations and values for the company.

If you can build your team around this criteria, then you’ll ensure that your team is happy and fits in with the culture you’re trying to create, which will add real value to your business in the long-run.

PW – Someone once said hire for attitude, train for aptitude. Of course, there’s a certain level of aptitude to consider in the hiring process, but we’re more interested in people that want to grow. A driven team will grow alongside your company, but only if you support them. It’s about growing the teams in the right ways and bringing people into the business that have a good cultural fit.

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