The Habits of A Highly Successful Leader

The Habits of A Highly Successful Leader

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.

13. Personable

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.

18. Accountability

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 Dont 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.


Conflict Resolution Guide

conflict resolution

Conflict is a normal, natural part of human relationships. People will not agree about everything all the time. In and of itself, conflict is not necessarily a negative thing. When handled constructively it can help people to stand up for themselves and others, and work together to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution. But if conflict is handled poorly it can cause anger, hurt, divisiveness and more serious problems. This guide discusses how to deal with conflict in a constructive manner.

Sources of Conflict

There can be many causes or reasons for conflict. However, some of the most common include:

•   Personal differences such as values, ethics, personalities, age, education, gender, social and economic status, cultural background, temperament, health, religion, political beliefs, etc.

•   A clash of ideas, choices, or actions. For instance, conflict can occur when people have incompatible goals, when they are in direct competition, or even when they have different work styles.  Finally, poor communication or miscommunication is one of the biggest causes of conflict.

Preventing Conflict

While it isn’t possible to prevent all conflict, there are steps that you can take to try to keep conflict to a minimum. One way to manage conflict is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Preventing conflict is not the same as avoiding conflict. Preventing conflict means behaving and communicating in a way that averts needless conflicts.

Consider the following tips:

•   Respect differences. Many conflicts arise from differences in gender, generations, cultures, values, etc. We live in an increasingly diverse world. Learn to respect and celebrate peoples’ differences and their opinions.

•   Treat others as you’d like to be treated. Regardless of your personal opinion of someone, be professional, courteous, respectful, and tolerant, even when you’re frustrated. If a person treats you disrespectfully, calmly tell them you do not appreciate it. Do not exacerbate the situation by retaliating with inappropriate behavior or comments.

•   Keep negative opinions to yourself—Most people are put off by hearing negative comments about others—especially related to personal issues. In the workplace, this may lead to disciplinary action. Friends and acquaintances may be equally “turned off’ by negative comments about someone, particularly if they feel they are being drawn into a conflict or being asked to take sides. If you need to vent about a personal issue, do so outside of the workplace, keep it to a close, trusted friend or a loved one and keep it to a minimum.

•   Keep your distance—Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. Often the conflicts arise with those who are closest to us. It is often easier to get along if you respect one another’s privacy and boundaries. Taking a break from each other can go along way in keeping the peace.

Mutual Conflict Resolution

In most cases you should be able to resolve conflicts by working with others involved. Here are some steps to consider:

•     Step One: Identify the purpose and importance of the conflict—and your mutual desire to solve it.

•     Step Two: Takes turns listening to each other’s side. This is a very important step and one that requires good listening skills.

•     Step Three: Once all the issues are discussed, repeat and summarize what was said. It may help to write this down or even create minutes ‘ to document issues discussed.

•     Step Four: Ask questions as needed and encourage others to do the same. Do you understand their point of view? Are you sure they understand yours? Clarify as needed.

•     Step Five: No matter how intense the conflict, you should always find issues or points that you agree upon: For instance, “we agree our goal is to increase sales by 10 percent this year. Or, “we agree that we need to cut our household costs, we just don’t agree on what costs we can cut.

•     Step Six: Next, list ALL Solutions— even those that may seem unrealistic, unreasonable, or wrong.

•     Step Seven: Review all the possible solutions and highlight those you find mutually acceptable. Hopefully you will have at least one or two that you agree upon.

•     Step Eight: Choose the one (or few) that you agree will work best.

•     Step Nine: Put a plan into action.

What steps will you take to implement? How will you review progress?

By creating step-by-step guidelines and mutually agreed upon solutions and action plans, you should be able to minimize conflict and achieve desired goals.

Dealing Constructively with Anger

Conflict can result in anger. Anger is a normal human emotion ranging from annoyance to absolute rage. Each person’s anger “triggers” are different, some may get angry at a friend’s behavior, other causes of anger can be more serious—such as personal problems or a previous traumatic experience.

In and of itself, anger is not necessarily a problem—when focused appropriately it can help people to stand up for themselves and others. But if anger is channeled in negative, inappropriate ways it can cause problems. Consider the following ideas to help deal constructively with anger:

Anger is a strong emotion, and isn’t always easy to control. Two crucial skills in managing anger are self-awareness and self-control. Try to recognize and identify your feelings, especially anger. Once the feeling is identified you can then think about the appropriate response.

— Self-awareness is being conscious of thoughts and feelings. Examine how and why you are feeling angry to better understand and manage these feelings. For example, ask yourself questions such as “why am I angry?” or “What is making me feel this way?” to assist in self-analysis. Learn to recognize your personal warning signs for anger.

— Self-control means stopping and considering actions before taking them. Learn to stop and think before you act or speak in anger. For example, envision a stop sign when you are angry and take the time to think about how to react. Explore techniques to calm down such as counting backwards from ten to one, deep breathing, or just walking away.

– Relax. Try relaxation exercises, such as breathing deeply from the diaphragm (the belly, not the chest) and slowly repeating a calming word or phrase like “take it easy.” Or to think of relaxing experiences, such as sitting on a beach or walking through a forest.

– Think positively. Remind yourself that no one is out to get you, you are just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life.

– Problem-solve. Identify the specific problem that is causing the anger and approach it head-on—even if the problem does not have a quick solution.

– Communicate with others. Angry people tend to jump to conclusions and speak without thinking about the consequences of what they are saying. Slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying.

– Manage stress. Set aside personal time to deal with the daily stresses of work, activities, and family. Ideas include: listening to music, writing in a journal, exercising, meditating, or talking about your feelings with someone you trust.  Change the scene. A change of environment may help reduce angry feelings. For example, if your co-workers or friends are angry frequently and/or make you angry, consider spending time with people who may contribute more to your self-confidence and well-being.

– Find a distraction. If you can’t seem to let your anger go, it can help to do something distracting, for example, read or watch television or a movie

– Set a good example. If you are teaching your child to control their anger, make sure you practice what you preach. Show by example how you manage your own anger.

When to Seek Help

There may be times when, despite your best efforts, you may not be able to resolve a conflict on your own. If so, get help.

If the conflict is work-related, you may need to speak to your manager or human resources department, particularly if the situation is affecting your work or impeding your chances of achieving goals.

In any conflict, if the conflict is is so severe that it’s leading to serious relationship problems, or creates a danger of physical harm and/or emotional or psychological damage, seek immediate help. Consider the following sources of assistance:

  •    Your employee assistance program (EAP)
  •    Medical practitioner
  •    Mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors, etc.
  •    Community mental health resources

When using these strategies, you will be in a better position to quickly and effectively resolve conflicts in your life.

13 Mistakes Exceptional Leaders Avoid


Running a business is hard work. And exceptional leaders aren’t born overnight. The stress of keeping up with your clients and team can be overwhelming to say the least. However, you’ll want to avoid falling victim to unprofessional behaviors in response to the constant demands on your time and energy.

Exceptional leaders avoid:

Not Listening

It’s often easy to lose sight of what others (employees, vendors, clients, partners) are saying while chasing progress in our businesses. Sometimes pride gets in the way or there’s pressure to meet operational demands or sales goals. Take the time to refocus your priorities and listen to those around you. People who feel that their voice and opinions have been heard are typically much better partners in achieving company goals.


Stop it! No, really stop it! You must put the right person in place and trust the job that they are doing. Letting go of some things when it comes to your business can be hard. If you have the right people in place, you are able to really focus on the things that you can do to grow the business.

Losing Your  Temper

Although we are human, leaders need to stay as calm as possible during good times and bad. Most people don’t appreciate being talked down to or yelled at in any situation. If you notice yourself beginning to lose control, step away for a few moments and do your best to calm down. Things like meditation, walking, and music can be very helpful.

Lacking Transparency

As leaders we are expected to make big decisions with facts pretty much only known to us for reasons that only we think we can understand. And while in some cases that may be true, don’t assume that others won’t care about or understand your vision. You have to be more transparent to your company stakeholders and your team to really have their buy-in to your master plan. Don’t let the urge to act quickly cause you to forget to communicate and offer explanations as to why your direction is best.


If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Yeah, I know. It’s so cliche. But the advice is solid. Don’t participate or encourage gossiping of any kind. Nothing good ever comes from negativity.

Relying on Ego

Everyone has big “ego” moments, but try not to become too overly confident. Being empathetic and learning to quickly take a step back and see the reactions of people on the team will allow you to adapt and adjust.

Ignoring Difficult Clients

Be a role model for those around you and set an example in dealing with difficult clients. No matter how ridiculous they may seem, they are also trying to make their businesses work.

Letting a Small Issue Become a Huge Issue

Not many people like conflict but as we all know, issues can sometimes snowball. This can mean that something may start out small and doesn’t seem worth addressing but can grow until it becomes too uncomfortable to easily fix. Company culture is defined by the worst behavior you are willing to tolerate, and having a toxic culture because you are too polite to call someone out on unacceptable behavior is a recipe for disaster.

Constructive Criticism

It can be easy to resent it when friends and colleagues criticize your ideas or suggest changes. Remember that constructive criticism about your ideas is not a personal attack. Instead of viewing it as a negative thing, take the opportunity to improve upon the foundation that you have built.

Being Pre-occupied During Meetings

I know. We are all pretty much attached to our smartphones. They go with us everywhere and store our entire lives.  Checking it every 30 seconds is completely normal right?! The result is that you are only half-present in meetings and not giving people your full attention. Put the phone away and/or place it in do not disturb mode during this time.

Not Scheduling Regular Meetings


Communication is critical in a team environment. And a great way to encourage communication within a team is to hold regular meetings to discuss business. Meetings don’t have to be a time suck and can be beneficial for everyone involved. Create a meeting agenda beforehand and be sure to have all meeting materials ready. If necessary, use a timer or alarm to end the meeting at a reasonable time.

Being Everyone’s Friend

It’s important to have boundaries with your employees for both legal and ethical reasons. Your policies should be well documented and followed consistently with all staff. Don’t lose great employees because someone else (who happens tp be a friend) is allowed to get away with poor behavior. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still care for and help them whenever possible. Your employees are the best investment you have in your business. And they should feel appreciated.

Not Checking In

While it’s wise not to micromanage, it’s also wise to check in with people from time to time. Don’t give people the impression that you are uninterested in the business. If you aren’t interested, they won’t be either.

7 Questions to Help You Develop Your Leadership Skills

7 Questions to Help You Develop Your Leadership Skills

As an avid reader and student of personal development, I have found that there are often contradictory points of view from many of the leading experts. Every leader encourages what they believe is the most important leadership behaviors, traits, and characteristics. After reading tons of books, blogs, and tips on leadership, I realize that effective leaders have a clear, teachable leadership point of view and are willing to share it with others.

Leadership expert, Ken Blanchard, offers seven questions to develop your own leadership point of view.

  1. Who are the influencers (key people) in your life who have had a positive (or, in some cases, negative) impact on your life, such as parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, or bosses and what did you learn from these people about leadership?

When we ask people who most impacted their lives, seldom do they mention bosses or other organizational leaders. More often they talk about their parents, grandparents, friends, coaches, or teachers. What did you learn from these people about leadership? How did their influences help your leadership point of view evolve?

  1. Think about your life purpose. Why are you here, and what do you want to accomplish?

Leaders need to have a clear picture of why they are doing what they are doing. It saddens me to think that I can only think of a handful of people who have a clear sense of purpose in their lives. How can you make good decisions about how you use your time, talent, and treasure if you don’t know what business you’re in?

  1. What are your core values that will guide your behavior as you attempt to live your life “on purpose?”

Most leaders suffer from what I call a “CV Syndrome.” CV (Core Value) Syndrome is a serious lack of awareness on the leader’s core values that results in an inconsistent and inadequate life. The implications of not curing this disease is debilitating, resulting in a life full of regrets and guilt. The important thing in life  is to decide what’s most important. The truth is every person values things differently. Some people value wealth, power, and prestige while others are more concerned with safety or survival. The key is to start with a long list and then narrow it down.

  1. Given what you’ve learned from past influencers, life events, your purposes, and core values, what is your leadership point of view – your beliefs about leading and motivating people?

Your beliefs are the essence of your leadership point of view. These should flow naturally from the people who have influenced you and from your purpose and values.

  1. What can your people expect from you?

Leadership is not something you do to people, it’s something you do with people. Letting people know what they can expect from you underscores the idea that leadership is a partnership process. It gives people a picture of what your behavior will look like under your leadership.

  1. What do you expect from your people?

Because leading is a partnership process, it is perfectly reasonable—in fact, it’s imperative—that you let people know what you expect from them. It gives people a picture of what their behavior will look like under your leadership.

  1. How will you set an example for your people?

Your leadership point of view should let others know how you will set an example for the values and behaviors you are encouraging. As most parents know, people learn from your behavior, not from your words. Leaders must walk their talk. Developing a leadership point of view, by following the method above, creates a clear path for you to follow.


Quiz: Are You A Leader?

are you a leader

Rarely, do people think of themselves as a leader but we all lead in some way or fashion within our five circles of influence. Those five circles being self, family, team, organization, and community. Leadership most often equates to influence. And many of us are in a position to be influential.

So, the question isn’t  “Are we leaders?”  instead the question should be, “What kind or type of leader am I?”

Use the following 20 questions developed by
Leadership expert Oswald Sanders to help you determine whether or not you’re an effective leader.

  1. How do you identify and deal with bad habits? To lead others, you must master your own habits.
  2. How well do you maintain self-control when things go wrong? The leader who loses control under adversity forfeits respect and influence. A leader must be calm in crisis and resilient in disappointment.
  3. To what degree do you think independently? A leader must use the best ideas of others to make decisions. A leader cannot wait for others to make up his or her mind.
  4. How well can you handle criticism? When have you profited from it? The humble person can learn from petty criticism, even malicious criticism.
  5. Can you turn disappointment into creative new opportunity? What three actions could you take facing any disappointment?
  6. Do you readily gain the cooperation of others and win their respect and confidence? Genuine leadership doesn’t have to manipulate or pressure others.
  7. Can you exert discipline without making a power play? Are your corrections or rebukes clear without being destructive? True leadership is an internal quality of the spirit and needs no show of external force.
  8. In what situations have you been a peacemaker? A leader must be able to reconcile with opponents and make peace where arguments have created hostility.
  9. Do people trust you with difficult and delicate matters? Your answer should include examples.
  10. Can you induce people to do happily some legitimate thing that they would not normally wish to do? Leaders know how to make others feel valued.
  11. Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or decision without taking offense? Leaders always face opposition.
  12. Can you make and keep friends? Your circle of loyal friends is an index of your leadership potential.
  13. Do you depend on the praise of others to keep you going? Can you hold steady in the face of disapproval and even temporary loss of confidence?
  14. Are you at ease in the presence of strangers? Do you get nervous in the office of your superior? A leader knows how to exercise and accept authority.
  15. Are people who report to you generally at ease? A leader should be sympathetic and friendly.
  16. Are you interested in people? All types? All races? No prejudice?
  17. Are you tactful? Can you anticipate how your words will affect a person? Genuine leaders think before speaking.
  18. Is your will strong and steady? Leaders cannot vacillate, cannot drift with the wind. Leaders know their’s a difference between conviction and stubbornness.
  19. Can you forgive? Or do you nurse resentments and harbor ill-feelings toward those who have injured you?
  20. Are you reasonable optimistic? Pessimism and leadership do not mix. Leaders are positively visionary.


Which areas do you need to work on to become a better leader?