No two business leaders are the same, but many of them share the same characteristics. These personal qualities allow these passionate, powerful entrepreneurs to climb the career ladder and shape the world. Up-and-coming leaders need these qualities if they want to reach great success and become influential business people. Here, Corey Shader shares five traits that every successful business leader must possess.

1. Self-Knowledge

Self-knowledge (or self-awareness) is a valuable leadership quality. It lets entrepreneurs understand themselves better so they can make smarter decisions in and out of the boardroom.

“Business leaders who aren’t taking the time to become more self-aware are not only limiting themselves from reaching that next level of success, but also their teams. As a business leader it is absolutely your responsibility to inspire growth within yourself, your colleagues, and clients,” said Mr. Shader.

It is not just about having a great idea for a product or service. Starting a business and maintaining it demands collaborating with people constantly. A leader must be able to work with others as well as build a roster of clients and providers. Furthermore, the leader will be the most visible face of a business and will do well to cultivate, indeed cherish, contact with others.

2. Not Susceptible to Criticism

Nobody likes being judged or criticized by customers or colleagues, but many of the most successful entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they deal with criticism extremely well. In fact, many businesspeople embrace negative comments — it empowers them, motivates them, and drives them to succeed.

The customers are always the greatest asset of a company. A business will only grow in so far as they are well served. It is worth remembering the need to uphold a timely attitude, to be empathetic, and to always listen to the clients as the service or product is provided. Studies note that 39% of customers will usually avoid a company after a bad customer service experience and that four out of ten will tell others not to use that company at all.

Research shows that people who take criticism well have high emotional intelligence. When criticized, they don’t make excuses.

3. Decisiveness

Smart leaders make quick decisions, often in a moment’s notice. This makes them powerful business leaders who are capable of dealing with stressful situations under pressure.

“According to a recent study published in Harvard Business Review, one of the four things that set successful CEOs apart is the ability to make decisions with speed and conviction,” says Forbes magazine.

4. Perseverance and the Ability to Overcome Obstacles

Failure is going to be a constant companion along the bumpy road to success. A leader must keep going, pivoting on tactics perhaps, but never losing sight of the strategic vision and ultimate goal. Success in business usually comes after tremendous trial and error. We all know the stories of grit and perseverance of the most successful entrepreneurs like Jack Ma and others; remember to keep plugging ahead until the finish line.  

“Success often has much more to do with perseverance than it does with a person’s innate qualities. That isn’t to say talent doesn’t matter, just that it only goes so far without sacrifice and effort,” says Fast Company.

A successful business will only be as strong as its human talent. To ensure that goal, a team must be motivated. Their work must be meaningful to them, and they must be encouraged, even inspired, by the leadership. Research suggests that 79% of employees who leave businesses do so because they feel unappreciated by their employer. Retaining talent is a question of inspiring them to succeed.   

5. The Ability to Think 6 Months Ahead

Thinking about the future of a company is one of the 16 most important leadership skills according to a study of more than 300,000 business leaders. Entrepreneurs who have a strategic perspective and long-term vision of the future — more than a six-month outlook — can grow their business and achieve massive success.

Planning ahead also involves learning about and making use of new technologies. Today, 69% of Americans use social media. Technologies help businesses build their brand and cater to their customers efficiently. Make use of them and build a robust online presence. By doing so, you will be able to build personal relationships with your customers and foster loyalty. You may also attract new customers too; studies estimate that 78% of small businesses attract new clients via social media advertising, for example.

Think about a successful entrepreneur, and likely they possess a few, if not all, of the personal qualities above. These traits separate great leaders from good leaders and are the driving force behind many successful business decisions.