How to be the kind of leader people want to follow

09 Oct 2014

One of the challenges that small business owners often talk about is effective leadership. What does it take to be a good leader? And what is the right kind of leadership style to take a small business to the next level?

Angela Munroe, Microsoft Devices, puts these and other questions to Richard Hytner. As a professor of marketing at London Business School and deputy chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide, Richard has experience of working with leaders in companies of all shapes and sizes. And, importantly, he’s been there himself. He’s recently written a book exploring new thinking in leadership.

Richard, what do you think makes a leader?
Put simply, someone who inspires others to deliver remarkable outcomes. You’re only a leader if you have followers. Unless you wish to be a lone wolf, at some stage you will need a number two (and three and four). When the business has achieved even the most modest growth, you will need others to shoulder some of the burden and share some of the joy.

Any suggestions to help entrepreneurs to become better leaders?
I suggest they adopt a simple system for assigning responsibilities that preserves the primacy of their final decision-making whilst acknowledging the importance of those around them. Call yourself the A, because you are ultimately accountable, and surround yourself with a circle of Cs – Consiglieri – advisors, deputies, coaches who make, shape, illuminate and enhance the success of you as the leader of your business.

Defining the relationship you want with your Cs is much under-rated: how and when do you want them to communicate with you? What decisions can they make without referring to you? How will you resolve conflicts when, inevitably, they arise?Most big businesses make a mess of this. In your business, demand that every relationship counts.

About Richard Hytner

Richard Hytner is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at London Business School.

He teaches on the following programmes: