The Four Guiding Principles that Every Successful Leader Employs

Don’t decide to be a professional basket-ball player if you love basket-ball, but you’re a shrimp. Someone will mention Muggsy Bogues was 5-3.

Hero Sports lists 24 NBA players who stood between 5-3 and 5-8. They overcame a height deficit with remarkable strengths like speed, agility, play-making, and shooting. That won’t happen for you.

Four guiding principles for success:

  • Maximize Strengths. Strengths make you feel strong when you do them. Minimize soul-sucking activities. But acknowledge that all leaders do things that drain energy.
  • Bring Value. Value is the benefit you bring others. Carving ducks might be a skill that adds value to others, but it’s not a leadership skill that benefits others.
  • Follow Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the thing you can’t wait to do. You may be great at building furniture, but you don’t love doing it.
  • Seize Opportunity. Opportunity is the best current situation where your strengths bring the greatest benefit to others and fuels your enthusiasm.


Every strength isn’t a leadership strength. You might be great at baseball, but that doesn’t make you a leader. Leadership strengths fit into five functions.

  1. Model the way.
  2. Inspire shared vision.
  3. Challenge the process.
  4. Enable people to act.
  5. Encourage the heart.

The above list comes from Kouzes and Posner in, “The Leadership Challenge.”

You won’t be well-rounded when it comes to all leadership functions.


Success is using your strengths in the current opportunity to bring value to others.

Winston Churchill inspired people. But Churchill failed in peacetime. Steve Jobs challenged the process. I’m not sure he encouraged that many hearts.

Use the five functions of leadership as guidance for leadership development. Hone your strengths. Strengthen weaknesses that hinder your strengths and limit opportunity.

Develop your ability to ask penetrating questions if you’re great at challenging the process. Are you weak at encouraging the heart? Develop emotional intelligence. (Emotional Intelligence 2.0)

What has helped you succeed as a leader? Does it fit with the ideas on this post or not?

What is your take on developing weaknesses?

Bonus Material:

Developing Strengths or Weaknesses (Jack Zenger)