It can be difficult to articulate exactly what it takes to be a successful leader. However, we all know a great leader when we’re working with one. They’re knowledgeable, decisive, compassionate, and generally hold themselves and those around them to a higher standard. But what exactly does one need to do to become a successful leader?
If you’re looking to be a great successful leader, these habits will help get you there.
1. Leverage Resources
Successful leaders know that the reason they have been put in charge is to get the best out of their resources. So when it comes to deciding strategy, solving problems, or resolving issues, they look to identify the best resources available to get to a solution quickly. They understand that leading is not about providing all the answers, but rather assembling the right team to ensure the best solution is found and implemented.
2. Respond vs. React
Great leaders have fantastic emotional intelligence, and they understand that knee-jerk reactions don’t typically lead to the best outcomes. They are in control of their words and actions and can consider all of the information to make the best decision possible.
3. Take smart risks
They understand the difference between a safe bet and a wild bet. While risky bets do tend to pay off once in awhile, a successful leader is very good at weighing the pros and cons of each situation and making a fair assessment of the risk.
4. They know that actions speak louder than words
Words are extremely powerful but tend to not mean as much if there isn’t any action behind them. Leaders define company culture by setting the example and living the desired culture on a daily basis. Posting your company vision and values statement on the bulletin board doesn’t cut it.
5. Focus On Solutions
Blame is never the solution to an operational problem although accountability is important. Good leaders look to solve problems first, then seek to ensure that the issue does not arise again.
6. Confidence vs. Arrogance
There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence helps build trust in the leader and arrogance destroys it. A successful leader is confident in their abilities to deliver, but share the credit for the successes with their team.
7. Plan Ahead
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Great leaders know this, and they also understand the need for urgency, but they never jeopardize the chance of success by ignoring the planning. Great leaders find a way to slow things down, to take a step back and ensure that their teams are focused on the right things, and understand what needs to be done to be successful before rushing in.
8. Hire Well
Leadership is not about being the best person on the team; it’s about hiring the best people for the team. Great leaders know this, and they have the confidence to hire people who are more knowledgeable and skillful than they are. In fact, they make it a regular practice.
9. Focus On Sustainable Success
This doesn’t mean that they avoid quick win. Rather, they understand the benefits that they can have in building momentum. But they do understand that the best success is sustainable success, which requires time and effort to achieve. Great leaders leave a legacy of success which continues well after their departure.
10. Detail Oriented
Leadership is about big picture thinking, about setting the vision and direction for the team, the organization or the company. But once that’s done, then there is the need to figure out the how. How will this success be achieved? Leaders can’t just remain big picture people if they want to achieve success.
11. Know When to Outsource
Great leaders know that they don’t need to do everything and that for the areas that they (or their team) are weak, they can delegate that work to outside sources. They know that they have been hired because of their strengths and they focus on using these strengths to benefit their organization. They are also confident enough to be vulnerable and show their weaknesses and get support rather than to cover them up or try and hide them.
12. Determined but flexible
Knowing when to change direction is an important skill. A successful leader remains fixed in their goals but flexible in how they achieve them.
Leadership is about getting the best out of all of the available resources, and to do this leader need to be great at relationship building and working well with others. Great leaders leverage their networks, and they also know that this is a two-way street providing support to their network when needed to ensure that it will be there in their time of need. A leader’s support system is their best asset.
14. Understand the Power of Recognition
What gets recognized gets repeated, and great leaders understand this and look to build a culture of recognition. They know that it starts with them, and they take the time to send personal notes, give words of encouragement and praise people in public.
15. Share credit
Leaders set direction and define that strategy, but it’s the team that delivers the results. Great leaders know that they will receive credit without having to take it, they know that reflected glory from their team is just as valid and important.
16. Quick to praise, slow to criticize
Mistakes happen, people learn from them, and any organization looking to grow needs to have leaders who can create a safe environment which nurtures talent. When you’re quick to criticize, especially in public, it kills morale and discourages others not just the person being criticized.
17. Laser Focused
When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Leadership is about helping to keep your teams focused on the goals, keeping their eyes on the prize and minimizing distractions. To do this leaders need to be laser focused because if they become distracted, then the organization becomes distracted.
There are a million and one reasons why things don’t work out as planned, but good leaders know that the buck stops with them. They don’t make excuses; they look for the reasons why things didn’t go well and then look to fix them.
19. They Don‘t Micro-Manage
Micro-management is a sign of weak leadership, a lack of trust in the team, and can hinder the performance of the team. You need to give clear direction, set clear expectations and then give your teams to the room to be successful.
20. Are Consistent
There is nothing more destabilizing to a team that a boss who is inconsistent. Great leaders look to build confidence in their team’s abilities, and one of the best ways to do this is through practicing consistency.