How To Stand Out as a Leader in the 21st Century

Small Business Canada

We live in a fast moving world where new innovations are bombarding us daily, leaders rise and fail with the speed of light, customer preferences shift almost daily and stakeholders are easily influenced by the latest and brightest shiny objects.

 The real question is how can you, a serious business owner, industry leader, stay the course and lead your team, company, and stakeholders forward with confidence.

 I believe that business success begins with and falls to leadership, in other words – your ability to influence other people.

 In this article, I share my 5 favourite strategies that will help you up your game, improve your leadership and lead for the long-term.

 Face Your Giants

 Giants are things keeping you from moving to the next level. Giants can be internal – limiting beliefs, fear, lack of self-awareness, lack of skill or external – poor communication, conflict, market volatility, etc.

As a leader, you have a couple of options to approach the giants. You can blame others and fire some of them to shift attention away from the situation; you can wait it out in the hope that final damage won’t be that bad, you can hire someone else to fix the situation or you can pull up your sleeves and get to work.

 Over the course of my career, I have seen leaders do all of the above. From hiding their head in the sand pretending there is no problem to masterfully resolving challenges. In order to become a leader who is admired by her team and trusted by her stakeholders, I encourage you to be brave. Acknowledge the problem, face it and seek help when necessary.

 Put People First

 If you care about people you will make better decisions… and fewer mistakes. When you care about your team, you will protect them, build them up and invest in them. And in return, they will give you their best and stay longer. When you care about your customers, you will provide better solutions which will improve their lives and in return, they will spend more and stay longer. Keep in mind that money comes and goes, systems and processes don’t have feelings, but people around you do. Be a people person. Be a leader who cares and leaves people better after they’ve met you.

 Lead By Example

 This is an oldie but goldie. As a leader, you set a pace for your organization. When your people see you improve, they improve. When they see you work hard, they work harder. When they see you being fair, they are encouraged to provide feedback, inspired to support improvement and innovation. Keep in mind that people do business with people they know, like and trust. This is true not only about customers but about your team, stakeholders and friends too.

 Stay Current

 Great leaders do not dwell on yesterday’s achievements. They press through, continually learning, improving, innovating and reaching new milestones. Their focus is forward as they try to read trends, prepare for the unexpected, strengthen their bottom line, set new targets and shatter glass ceilings trying to hold them back. Business leaders of today are limitless. They are the dreamers, hasslers and achievers. They inspire us to be better, dream bigger and achieve greater things.

 Character Matters

 This is my final, yet most important “strategy”. It is not easy to be a person of character in this time and age. We’ve all seen leaders rise and fail. Some due to lack of competency, but mostly due to lack of character. Self-absorbed leaders threatening others can fool us all and succeed in the short term. But at the end of the day when you win it all, that void and damage you caused will eventually catch up with you. There will be no friend to trust and no team member to support you. You will stand alone. Will you choose short-term gain over long-term success? The choice is yours to make. In fact, you are making that choice daily. Choose to be a person of integrity. Even when it doesn’t seem to be a popular choice, even when it seems to be a wrong choice.

 I believe that as business leaders we have a responsibility to positively impact our communities. We might never get recognized for our achievements, we might not even be the top leaders, but we need to start today to take what we have and use it to help someone. You can’t learn to swim reading a book about swimming, no matter how good it is. It is the same with leadership. You need to put it into practice to improve your leadership skills and make an impact. What are you waiting for? Help someone… today!

Silvia Pencak is the President of Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), Canadian nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating relationships between Canadian women-owned businesses and large corporate and government organizations across North America. WBE Canada promotes the economic advancement of Women Business Enterprises (WBEs). As a quality third-party certifying body of Canadian businesses that are 51% owned, managed and controlled by women, WBE Canada has been connecting them to large supply chains since 2009. To learn more about their initiatives, visit You can connect with Silvia directly on Twitter – @SilviaPencak.  

Pin it
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts