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20 Habits of Highly Successful and Effective Leaders

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March 16, 2017

About six months ago I wrote and article on the 20 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Leaders which proved to be very popular, over half a million views and shares. Which got me wondering what do people want to know most. What to do, or what not to do when it comes to leading.

Both, I believe, are valuable teaching tools and learning aids. So in the interest of balance here are my thoughts on the top 20 habits of highly successful leaders that help drive engagement and deliver amazing results.

1. Leverage the knowledge within their teams

They know that the reason that they have been put in charge is to get the best out of the resources in their team. 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, it's about ensuring the best answer is found and implemented.

2. Respond, rather than react

Great leaders have great emotional intelligence, and they understand that emotional responses, knee-jerk reactions don't lead to the best outcomes. They are in control of their emotions and can consider all of the information and make the right decisions, the best decision not just an emotional decision.

3. Take smart risks

They understand the difference between a safe bet and a wild bet. They know that fortune favors the bold, but they also know that fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Creating a culture of smart-taking ensure stable growth, more positive outcomes, and it helps to build confidence.

4. They know that actions speak louder than words

If you want to know what someone truly believes don't listen to what they say, watch what they do. Leadership defines culture, but it does so by setting the example and living the desired culture on a daily basis, not by just posting a Vision and Values on the company website.
A vision spoken, but not lived, is a vision that quickly dies.

5. Focus on finding solutions not someone to blame

Blame is never the solution to an operational problem, a customer concern or any issue that crops up in business. Blame is a diversionary tactic and one that eats away at the effectiveness and efficiencies of teams. Good leaders look to solve problems first, then do the root-cause analysis to ensure that the chance of the issue repeating is mitigated.

Most customers don't care who's at fault; they just want their issue resolving!

6. Are Confident Not Arrogant

There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance; the former helps build trust in the leader, the latter destroys it. Great leaders are confident in their abilities to deliver, but share the credit for the successes with others.

7. Ensure that enough planning is done before work starts

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 the best people available

Leadership is not about being the best person in the team; it's about hiring the best people, assembling the best team and delivering the best results. Great leaders know this, and they have the confidence to hire people who are more knowledgeable and skillful than they are. They don't feel the need to be the best at everything. I know when I was leading teams that if I was the most knowledgeable person on every topic, then the team was in big trouble.

Hire smart, hire the smartest.

9. Focus on sustainable success

This doesn't mean that they avoid quick win. No, they understand the benefits that they can have in building momentum. But they do understand that the best success is long-term sustainable success, which requires the buy-in of the teams, it can also take time and effort to achieve, but that it's worth it in the long run. Great leaders leave a legacy of continuing success which continues even after their departure.

10. They know the devil is in the detail

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, and that requires the team, and often the leader to get down into the weeds. Leaders can't just remain big picture people if they want to achieve success.

The devil is in the detail, and these devils need to be identified and addressed.

Find the next 10 habits by clicking the link below.

Gordon Tredgold , Founder and CEO, Leadership Principles