No matter the size of your business, your leadership skills are a key factor in determining your business’ success. But what makes a good leader?

When looking for inspiration to determine the type of leader that you’ll be, look to successful leaders who’ve come before you. 

While everyone has a different leadership style, there’s nothing wrong with looking to successful leaders for some inspiration.

  • Treat your employees and customers equally

Everyone knows the saying that “the customer is always right,” but Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group doesn’t think so. As a leader, you have a responsibility to both your employees and your customers.

Employees who are supported and treated well are going to treat your customers well. But unhappy and burnt-out employees will not be able to support your business goals.

When mediating customer and employee conflicts, make sure that you’re listening and fairly assessing the situation. Supporting your employee whenever possible is a sign of an effective and fair leader.

  • Learn from your mistakes

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, advises leaders to think critically about their mistakes. As a leader and a company, you’re going to make mistakes. The best thing to do though is to take advantage of them by thinking about where you went wrong and how you can improve. 

When you can reflect honestly about your missteps, you can avoid repeating the same mistakes and can continue to refine your leadership skills.

Take time to ponder your leadership blunders. Writing a detailed report for yourself is an effective way to figure out where you went wrong and learn how to grow from this mistake.

  • Don’t neglect your data

Many leaders make the mistake of not collecting data from their employees. You might think that because leadership includes a lot of social nuances that collecting data isn’t useful.

Carly Fiorina, a former Executive, President, and Chair at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, advocates for collecting data to evaluate your leadership performance.

Take advantage of surveys before, during, and after implementing any changes to your business and leadership style. This helps you measure your performance and see which changes truly improve your business.

  • Focus on long-term innovation

Many leaders are too short-sighted with their goals. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, recommends thinking beyond profit for a long-term planning goal.

Increased profit is too vague of a goal to direct your strategy. Instead, think about more concrete performance factors. 

For example, if your goal is to increase each employee’s salary by a certain percentage, rather than just increase your company’s profit, you and your employees will be more motivated to achieve this goal.

  • Pay attention to detail

It’s important to be a thorough communicator when you’re a leader. Adrian Swinscoe, author and customer experience expert, stresses that smaller issues only grow when they’re unresolved.

Make sure that your employees have space to bring up all their concerns and questions whenever you’re meeting with them. 

When you’re a thorough communicator, you’re spending less time guessing what you need to adjust and more times actively improving your leadership skills.

Looking for more inspiration to help set up your business for success? Check out this infographic below from Chattermill for more inspiration from top professionals.