30 Secrets to Successful Leadership
Successful leaders exhibit these 30 qualities, behaviors, and skills. Item one is first because it’s most important. The rest are listed randomly.
You’re ready to lead when you:
- Know yourself and live in alignment with that knowledge.
- Follow well.
- Fully adhere to organizational values.
- Practice influence rather than coercion.
- Listen to the wisdom and experience of others.
- Embrace new methods while respecting the past.
- See issues from many perspectives.
- Don’t take things personally.
- Always seek the highest good of others.
- Advocate for ideas without being adversarial.
- Understand the difference between leading and managing.
- Follow up and follow through.
- Create results through others.
- Have followers.
- Consistently demonstrate initiative.
- Leverage diverse communication techniques.
- Demonstrate courage and gentleness.
- Give credit to others and take responsibility yourself.
- See and leverage the strengths of others.
- Lead yourself with self-discipline.
- Listen and learn from criticism.
- Are already leading.
- Understand leading is serving not being served.
- Curiously explore.
- Get out of the way so others can perform without you.
- Comfortably ask for and accept help from others.
- Know you don’t know.
- Always act ethically.
- Consistently establish and maintain forward movement.
- Remain optimistic while working on problems.
Thank you to the participants of the Leadership Freak Coffee Shop on Facebook who inspired and contributed to this list.
Which leadership qualities do you find most important? Least important?
Which qualities/behaviors did we miss?
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Once again, Dan, you distil a lot of wisdom into a great post. Thanks,
Thank you sir. Have a great week!
What Greg said, AND, of course we agree on the importance of #1.
To me, it means self-leadership, and self-leadership tops my list… and of course we can get better at self-leadership from the lessons of following and leading others. There’s this great mutual feedback loop going on in life. 😉
Rolling “know yourself” into “self-leadership” gives some real traction to authenticity.
Good post by way of a check-list. However, you have missed on focusing on vision and creating a winning team to remain successful. A good leader will always have a courage to take calculated risks with conviction and remain exemplary for others to follow and taste the success through a well-planned journey for all to benefit.
Dear Dr. Asher,
You wisely extended the conversation to include several essential qualities.
I’m especially in tune with, create a winning team. Bingo!
Thanks for adding value.
As always, interesting post Dan.
I agree that your #1 is number one, but I think it may be one of the hardest for an individual to effect. A big problem with people who are self-unaware is that they are … unaware!
Following the rest of the list, even using it as a checklist, may prove beneficial for those who want an “external” perspective on how they perform and interact with others.
I love a well turned phrase… “A big problem with people who are self-unaware is that they are … unaware!” — Beautiful.
I wonder if letting people work through their own struggles enhances self-awareness? What about failure?
Success blocks self-awareness.
Thank you for joining in!
Do you really think that “Success blocks self-awareness?” In some cases, I suppose it looks that way.
I’ll venture that success is one part of the “chiaroscuro” of life. With a contrast of failure and success, we have have twin teachers on the way to self-awareness, no?
In a sense, when we “get it” failure and success are contained in the overall dance of self-expansion, and therefore, while we may refer to an unexpected or (in the moment) unwanted outcome as a failure, in the larger scheme of things, there is no such thing…
I’ll say it this way. Success is more likely to cause arrogance and arrogance blinds.
Always love our exchanges.
RE: Success/arrogance… OK, I get that… but how we handle success, and what we look for in success, are great indicators of how self-aware we’ve become. I like to tell my clients that if they give some credit to the heart, it will help keep their head the right size.
I, too, enjoy our exchanges. 🙂
Well said. 🙂
Funny how 30 items seem like too many and not enough all at the same time. Great brain food for a Monday morning. Better than a cup o’ joe to get the juices flowing. Thanks as always, Dan.
I feel the same way. I thought this list is daunting…yet, as some have already indicated, it’s not exhaustive.
The list makes me appreciate everyone striving for effective leadership.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Amen. Not enough of them around. Maybe someone should send your list to Washington.
Can’t send the list to Washington because we need more people who know they don’t know…. too many in Washington know too much. 😉
Yeah, ain’t that the truth. And sadly, that’s not confined to Washington. Anyway, I love your list and I’ve passed it on.
Dan, good stuff. Thirty-five years in many of these resonate with me at a very personal level. I plan to share this with a group of new leaders I’m working with. Oh, and #21, or on most days, #1 for me…”Don’t make assumptions.” If I’m not careful, I can get hijacked by assumption about people’s intentions, particularly the negative ones. I can’t tell you the amount of wasted energy I’ve saved by checking out what someone meant.
…and of course your self-awareness has contributed to the emphasis on #21 in your personal strategy… very cool. 🙂
Bingo on Don’t make assumptions! Boy do they get us into trouble.
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Reblogged this on abubashars and commented:
Great insights…..Amazing tips..Thanx
This is a great list as it is but since you asked:
Which leadership qualities do you find most important?
“Always seek the highest good in others.” I think this one applies to any task, whether it is cleaning a pane or glass or doing brain surgery. It a person’s vocation doesn’t reflect the channel through which their “highest good” flows, the individual is less fulfilled and the mission of the organization stands to suffer.
“Have followers.” I know it flies in the face of the whole point of a post about leadership qualities. But I think I am getting at the fact that many of the best leaders start out small, with very few “believers” in their camp, while some of the worst leaders have bevies of “followers” based on all the wrong reasons. Sometimes it takes time for the best leader’s strengths to shine.
Which qualities/behaviors did we miss?
I guess it’s not surprising that a reader (me) would recommend that #24 (curiously explore) be expanded by a component that recommends that the exploration involve reading and encouraging others to read. Learn about others who have led well; learn about others who have failed; learn about weird ideas and amazing ideas. They are fertile ground for future growth.
Thanks for sharing your insights.
The idea of “seeking another’s highest good” is a way of saying “love” people. I just find it has more teeth.
You make the LF community better.
Great list Dan, would say that #1 is definitely #1. #2 (both for paradox and priority) would be #27–> Know that you don’t know. 😉
Although it is globally identified in some of the other items, might more overtly add Continuously value learning/growth.
I agree, Doc. People who don’t continue to learn make today’s decisions based on yesterday’s reality.
Doc, Know that you don’t know is one of my personal favorites.
Continuously learn… Ka Ching.. I meet your standard because that’s one of the main reasons I write this blog. It’s a way for me to learn.
Wow, what a great list! The only thing I would add to it, would be “Being wrong and accepting responsibility for your error.” My mother would say, “Be the bigger person.”
Thank you for joining the conversation. Leaders who blame others create fearful, paralyzed organizations.
Very impressive list Dan and for the most part I agree with the order you have listed them especially no. 1. I would love to see this list covered with a giant veil of humility. The light of self awareness begins when being humble takes precedence over everything we do.
How could I forget such an essential leadership quality. Thanks for adding an essential insight to a great discussion.
I’m thankful for you and your friendship,
I love your posts and regularly use them to support the AML progrmamme I am delivering in school. AML stands Aspirational Middle Leaders, and it is made up of young staff and not so young staff who want to begin thinking about being the leaders of the future.
It is great to be able to prompt reflection with your blog as it is succinct and concise and really gets them thinking, and discussing. I have sugggested that they follow you as well.
I agree that self awareness is the key to effective leadership (but also agree that it is those who are sometimes least self aware who are open to change, development and growth)
Thank you for your continued sharing :o)
You comment encourages me. It’s invigorating to hear you find value in these posts and use them in other contexts.
Its so interesting that those with the least internal stability may be most open to change. Great food for thought.
Best to you,
A recent experience reminded me of this one, which is also a key to leadership and professional success:
Believe it when people show you who they are.
Elizabeth Kraus, Author, 365 Days of Marketing
Just wanted to add one aspect viz. having an ” ownership” orientation and an Intrapreneurship attitude.
The Bonus point is I think very important! Some people can not see the forest because of the trees…breaking complex issues into manageable simple steps makes a forest full of difference.
Brilliantly stated. Thank you.
25.Get out of the way so others can perform without you.
I find this difficult to know when to get out of the way.
14. Least important is have followers!!
I like the old line “I wouldn’t go to a partywhere someone like me was invited”….I am attracted to leaders so wouldn’t want followers I like striding out together! I am a pioneer that likes travelling with pioneers,
I have learnt a lot today – went off and looked up Intrapeneur – hadn’t given it a lot of thought! It is an amazing concept
Hmmm, I don’t get it. The most important leadership trait is a “bonus”?
Leadership is the process of transforming a vision into an achievable goal.
Since the vision is usually complex, its translation into a goal that followers lacking this vision will see, and seek to achieve, has to be simplified.
The translation of complexity into simplicity (without loss in meaning) = genius, which is why leaders are sometimes venerated for that.
Yet for you this is a last-place bonus?
It seems to me the list is also out of sequence, and a bit ambiguous. Perhaps you chose to keep it as short as possible, assuming your readers are clever enough to figure things out…or offer a nice challenge 🙂
If I have your permission, I would like to amend it a bit.
Great list. It is so easy to overlook many of those qualities. Leadership is all about self-improvement.
The one Quality leaders often forget is understanding leading is serving not being served. As a leader we first had to be led and we chose to lead because somewhere along the way a leader inspired us by being one who showed compassion, corrected with considersion, and demonstrated several of the qualities above. I am inspired by these articles and I encourage you to continue on with posting I am learning a lot 🙂