How to be a good leader and lead effectively

How to be a good leader and lead effectively

Free Book Preview: Unstoppable

How to be a good leader and lead effectively

There are few things more infuriating than a hypocritical leader. We all know the boss who regularly leaves the office early for personal plans, but demands everyone stay until exactly 5 P.M. and the manager who assigns you impossible tasks, then shirks responsibility when the outcome is (predictably) less than desired.

When you say one thing and do another, your team will ask, “If he doesn’t do it, why should I?” Your hypocrisy fosters resentment, suspicion, mistrust and doubt. To be a truly effective leader, you must lead by example.

Leadership only succeeds when it shows others how to extend and push for greatness. Your team should look at you and think, “If she can do it, I can, too.” True leaders do not whip their team into shape from the back of the pack — that’s a dictatorship. They lead the charge, while carrying their share of the weight.

Here’s nine ways you can lead the charge as a better leader:

1. Get your hands dirty.

When you sit back and dictate to others what you want done without being willing to do it yourself, you are setting yourself up to be hated. Absolutely no one likes doing the dirty work. But if the leader in the room is willing to get up to their elbows in something that’s “not their job,” not one other person will be able to complain about it.

2. Take responsibility.

The best leaders in the world strategically pass the credit and take the blame. When you blame your team for a failure, you make your team defensive and wary, and sabotage any trust you may have built. Exemplary leaders accept personal responsibility for their company’s failures and pass credit when it is given in order to build trust, contain anxiety in their team, and model humility and graciousness.

3. Listen to your team members.

Your team is your most valuable asset, and ignoring their brilliance is a huge mistake. Model to your team what it looks like to care: ask them questions, try to understand, and encourage an open door policy. You’ll receive far more than you give, and model healthy dialogue.

4. Acknowledge — and even celebrate — failure.

If your leadership model says, “Failure is not an option,” you may be setting yourself up for not only more failure, but a culture of disappointment and fear. Failure is a vital process of invention, innovation, and risk-taking. If you want a truly extraordinary team, celebrate failure and even encourage it in a controlled, experimental environment.

5. Create solutions.

In the same vein of failure, don’t dwell on what went wrong. Punishing your team or harping on them for failures will only discourage them from innovation. Look at the failure closely in post-failure feedback sessions, so you can find solutions from the failure as you encourage others to do the same.

6. Take care of yourself.

It all starts with being healthy. Too often companies expect their employees to overwork themselves and devote themselves wholly to a project. But balance is key: model taking breaks, exercising, eating well, and getting away from the office from time to time. Encourage your team to live mentally and physically balanced lives and you will support your company’s success ten-fold.

7. Be truthful.

Honesty really is the best policy. Lying — and even withholding information — affects everything and everyone: relationships, decision-making, communication, and more. Team members start to second-guess themselves and the organization, and stop listening. Though honesty is difficult at times, your honesty as a leader is vital to maintaining organizational health.

8. Follow your own rules.

This should go without saying, but do as I say, not as I do is a horrible leadership motto. Don’t bend the rules because you’re the leader. Your dishonesty and hypocrisy will immediately cancel out any authority you’re trying to convey. If you’re not willing to follow the rules, why should anyone else? Establish rules, and stick to them.

9. Establish a baseline of excellence.

If you don’t want mediocrity from your team, don’t be mediocre. Whatsoever you do will be watched and emulated, so start with demanding excellence from yourself. Your team will notice, and do their best to keep up.

Leading by example is the fastest way to train a team. When you hold yourself to a high standard, your team will look to gain your approval by doing the same. They will rise to our expectations of excellence, integrity, and respect when you give them the same. And when your team is composed of excellence, you are sure to see success.

Sometimes the best leaders take a step back

How to be a good leader and lead effectively

Chaay_Tee / Getty Images

Leaders lead. We all know that. We always see them step up and effortlessly take charge. Look a little more closely at a good leader you know and you will notice there are times when these good leaders don’t lead; they let others lead. They become followers. They become followers who are every bit as good at following as they are at leading when it’s time for them to lead.

When Leaders Lead

When leaders lead, they share their vision and their excitement. They motivate their followers with their passion. Good leaders lead by example and provide those under them a picture of what is possible.

When you see a leader step back and give someone else the opportunity to lead, it’s usually of one of a few solid reasons: training, delegation, or expertise.

Training

Leaders develop their team members. They help the team members gain new skills to help the team increase its ability to reach the leader’s goal. One important skill the leader teaches the team is leadership. And, oddly, another is followership.

One way you give someone an opportunity to learn and improve their leadership skill is by letting them lead. If the leader always leads, no one else on the team will ever have the chance to practice leading and they won’t improve in that key skill. So when the leader steps back and lets someone else take over it helps them both.

You can call Bob into your office and tell him, “I want you to run the meeting this afternoon. I’ll be there if you have any questions, but it’s your show.” The hard part for the manager is letting Bob run the meeting. If there are questions during the meeting, they should be directed to Bob, not the boss. If someone asks the boss something, he/she has to defer to Bob. The leader should only answer the questions from Bob. This shows the team that Bob is the leader.

Or you call Maria and tell her, “I want you to head up the new project. Here are your resources. This is the schedule. Here’s what I expect. Keep me posted and see me if you have any issues.” Then get out of the way and let her lead the project team.

I have led many community service projects for previous employers so when my new employer was looking into such a project I was trying to figure out how I could make time to lead it. When one of the other employees, a person in an individual contributor role, stepped up and volunteered to lead the effort I was pleased and relieved. I had discovered someone who might have some leadership talent I could help develop and I wouldn’t have to expend the extra effort to lead the project. I could be a part of the team. I could be a good follower.

And that is the second key skill a leader trains their team in: followership. A good leader has good followers. Just as the leader has led by example and shown the team his/her vision and the picture of what is possible, the leader now shows the team, by example, what good followership is. In each of the three examples above, the leader has the opportunity to jump in and “fix” things, but that’s not leadership and it is not followership.

The leader has to know when to let the team member face some challenges in order to grow and improve their performance. By letting the others lead, the leader provides a great example of followership. It can be in the leader’s group or in a different part of the organization. The leader trains team members every time he/she doesn’t lead.

Delegation

When a leader delegates to one of their team members, that person has the opportunity to function in a leadership role. They get hands-on practice in leadership and get to improve their skill. If a leader is always the leader, they aren’t delegating. If they aren’t delegating, they are missing a critical opportunity to train their team members.

Expertise

Another time when leaders don’t lead is when they recognize that someone else has greater expertise in the subject matter. That someone could be another leader in the organization or someone in a subordinate position.

We needed musical entertainment for the annual company picnic. I have two people on my team who are musicians and have played professionally in the past. I gladly stepped aside and let them make the choices of what type of music to have, which musicians to hire, what sound equipment was needed, how to set up the stage, etc.

Bottom Line

It can be hard for a leader to not lead sometimes, but it is essential. It lets the leader improve his team and its members and makes it easier to achieve the goals. This doesn’t mean you run away from a difficult situation and let someone else lead. It means when you are in charge, you let someone else be the leader.

By Abhi Golhar of AbhiGolhar.com

No matter where you are in your career, it’s never too early or too late to start or continue to develop your leadership skills. Leadership is often described as a set of skills that can be enhanced and trained. Inspired by my work with helping business owners advance, here are eight tips for being an effective leader:

1. Learn to lead by example.

At some point in their careers, everyone has had a boss who has asked them to do something they don’t usually do, such as come in early for a meeting, and then the boss was late for it. Having the “do as I say” attitude doesn’t make you likable and doesn’t earn you the respect of your team. A good leader is one who leads by example and does what they expect everyone else to do. If you expect your team to be hard workers, then you should be a hard worker too. By practicing what you preach, you earn the respect and loyalty of your team, and before long, you’ll see that they’re following your example.

2. Be goal-oriented.

Instead of focusing on the problem at hand, an effective leader instead directs attention toward the solution. Instead of worrying and complaining about the issues, they focus on the objectives and then turn their energies toward creating a plan and strategy to achieve those objectives. An effective leader prioritizes so they can get the most important and urgent things done first.

3. Take responsibility.

Instead of pointing fingers and playing the blame game when things go wrong, a good leader takes responsibility for the team’s actions and their consequences. By being willing to take responsibility, you prove that you’re worthy of trust and respect.

4. Share the glory.

We’ve probably all had a boss who took all the credit for the team’s hard work and success, right? This is not an effective leader. An effective leader is one who is team-oriented and more than happy to share the glory and credit for a job well done with the team. They admit that the success and achievements are due to the team’s joint efforts. A leader is only as good as the team behind them. By sharing the glory, an effective leader can earn the admiration and respect of the team. After all, no one wants to follow a selfish leader.

5. Know how to develop a team.

One of the primary traits of an effective leader is the ability to develop team members through training, teaching or coaching. The team will not be able to achieve the goals of the organization without this training.

An effective leader can build people up and create a stronger team, which benefits everyone involved. They can do this because they pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the team as a whole, as well as those of each team member. They have excellent communication skills, which they can use to build relationships with and among team members. By building good interteam relationships, they create a greater level of productivity.

6. Become a master of communication.

Excellent communication skills are necessary to become an effective leader. However, communication is not just about expressing what you want to happen — it’s also about being able to truly listen to others. An effective leader not only expresses their ideas and strategies persuasively and clearly but also truly listens to feedback with an open mind.

7. Be courageous and assertive.

In many cases, the leader of a team has to venture into new territory, which means they have to face the unknown and take risks or break rules. In order to do this, a leader must be able to speak up about the things that truly matter and be assertive about what they need and want from their team and for their team. An effective leader is willing and ready to face any challenges and obstacles so they can achieve their own goals and the goals of the organization.

8. Be confident.

Projecting confidence is probably the most difficult characteristic to develop. Some people are naturals when it comes to this, but you can develop a greater sense of self-assurance. Part of this confidence is having faith and feeling secure in yourself and not needing to be accepted and loved by others, as well as being able to prove that you have the competencies and the skills to be an effective leader and to lead the team to its common goal.

No matter where you are in your career, it’s never too late to learn how to be an effective leader. These eight tips will help you develop your leadership skills and make you more desirable in the workplace.

How to be a good leader and lead effectively

It doesn’t matter if you are running a business, managing a team, or teaching a class–leadership skills are important. Some people seem to be born knowing what to do to inspire and lead people, but for most of us it doesn’t come that naturally.

Luckily for us, leadership isn’t a magical gift but a set of skills that you can acquire and practice. It may come more easily to some than to others, but it’s within reach of all of us. You just have to want it, be willing to work and dare to take a risk.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, here are 21 ways you can start to become a better leader today:

1. Manage your emotions. Your emotions give you energy. If they’re low, your energy is low; if they’re running high, you feel positive and optimistic. To be at your best as a leader, manage your emotions–when you do, you manage your energy too.

2. Develop your skills. If you don’t have the skills to lead, no title or position will ever make you into the leader you want to be. There’s only one way to become a better leader, and that’s to work on your leadership skills, develop expertise in your field, and discover the heart of what leadership is about for you.

3. Become a great communicator. Discipline yourself to understand what’s happening around you by observing and listening. A great leader is always a skilled communicator–not only as speaker but as a listener, someone who stays focused and tuned in to the nuance of a conversation.

4. Admit when you are wrong. It takes a strong, confident person to say they are wrong. Sometimes people think that admitting you’re wrong is a sign of weakness, but in fact just the opposite is true–the more honest and open you are, the more people will respect you as a leader.

5. Learn how to spot talent. A huge element of great leadership is knowing how to connect with the right kind of people–those who can move your vision forward and develop successful strategies. But hiring great individuals is only half the game; it’s just as important to understand how people of diverse backgrounds and abilities can best work together.

6. Be part of the team. There’s an acronym that says “team” stands for Together Everyone Achieves More, and great leadership comes from those who see themselves as part of a team, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to support, help, guide and mentor.

7. Give credit where it’s due. It’s not uncommon to see someone in a leadership position take credit for the work of others, but true leaders are generous with credit. They know that any great accomplishment takes many people and talents.

8. Be a mentor, not a preacher. People are interested in growth and development; they want to know how they can do better and find their own path. As a leader your job is to mentor them, guide them and support them–not to boss them or preach to them.

9. Invest in people. To be a great leader, you need to start at the heart of what matters in your organization–and what matters is your people. If you want to see them happy, engaged, loyal and dedicated, make the time to invest in them, nurture them and provide them with a clear vision of what needs to be done.

10. Give freedom and be flexible. As long as people know how to get the job done right, stay out of their way. A leader who fosters freedom and flexibility gives people room to work in whatever way is best for them.

11. Be quick to praise. Praise people often and openly. Let others know when the work is well done, a job is completed with excellence and the results are great. But when it comes to feedback that’s focused on development and growth, do it privately. It’s likely to feel like a negative assessment, and no wants to feel they’re being berated in public.

12. Bond with your team. It’s easy for people to talk about wanting great teams, but that doesn’t happen by itself. It takes a leader who’s willing to get in the trenches and spend time working with their team to create the bond that great teams share.

13. Get out of your office. Come in early to get your work done while things are peaceful. Then, when everyone else arrives, get out of your office and connect with people. It’s an efficient way to balance the demands of a leadership role, and people feel good about their team when they can see a leader not only working hard but also being available and accessible. It’s a win-win.

14. Give the benefit of the doubt. Many of the bad things that happen in the course of a day or a week–a miscommunication, an uncomfortable moment, an act of disrespect­–happen because someone is quick to judge and to give their opinion. The best leaders give the benefit of the doubt. They work on being fair and kind and on always giving people a second chance or the benefit of the doubt.

15. Stop micromanaging. Leaders who micromanage their teams are not allowing the talented to excel, the gifted to produce, and the experienced to make best use of their skills. If you want to be a better leader, step back and give people the room they need to do their best.

16. Have fun. Business may be serious, but the best leaders know how to build excitement and fun. They’re great at creating an optimistic culture and an enthusiastic environment–they know fun’s important when people are working hard.

17. Recognize the gifts of your people. Learn to quickly pick up on the gifts and strengths of your people. When you do, you’re best equipped to help them build on their strengths and grow in the most productive direction.

18. Hold people accountable. One of the biggest derailments of leadership happens when people aren’t held accountable. If responsibility and accountability are important to you, don’t let those who are slacking get away with it. You gain respect by sticking to your principles, and your team stays highly functional. It can’t get better than that.

19. Give trust to earn trust. When you trust, you send a message that you believe in people and have confidence in them. And, in turn, they’re more inclined to trust you.

20. Show compassion and care. Compassion helps to bridge the gaps between what the organization needs, what your people want, and what you can give. And it’s the leaders who show compassion who are the most admired.

21. Lead with love. Amor vincit omnia: Even the ancient Romans knew that love conquers all. Love your people, love your organization and love those you serve, and you’ll have discovered the secret of great leadership.

Top leadership experts give advice on how to lead high-functioning teams.

Years ago we brought the top leadership experts together for a two-day conference. We asked them to give us the “Best Practices” for effective leadership. This is what they told us:

The Vision Thing. Inspire team members with a compelling vision—one that is consistent with members’ ideals and values. Use consultation and collaboration to get team members committed to goals.

Stimulate Creativity and Innovation. Using the shared vision, encourage innovation and creativity. Creativity training (there are many such programs) can help.

Create High-Functioning Teams. Define team members’ roles and foster successful interdependence. Define goals and measure outcomes. Use coaching to help teams coordinate and to facilitate team performance.

Develop Cultural Intelligence. Leaders should champion diversity, be flexible and adaptable, and be sensitive to the multicultural nature of today’s work teams. Training and good mentoring can lead to a better understanding of members from diverse backgrounds.

Lead Proactively. This comes from crisis expert, Ian Mitroff: Imagine worst-case scenarios and prepare the organization for such instances. For example, in the wake of school and workplace shootings, many are practicing emergency lockdowns. Leaders in business should be prepared for all kinds of emergencies and crises.

Lead Ethically. Work to create a positive ethical climate. Set an ethical example and encourage ethical behaviors in others.

Free Book Preview: Unstoppable

How to be a good leader and lead effectively

Let’s be honest. Being a great leader ain’t easy. As in an effective, inspiring, well-respected leader for your company.

The good news is that we’ve compiled this list of awesome, actionable leadership tips that will have you running your business. like a boss — a good one. Some are relatively basic but are important reminders. Others, well, perhaps you’ve never considered before.

Consider these tips when upping your leadership game:

1. Lead by example.

Leaders need to show, not just tell. If you want your employees to be punctual, make sure you’re there on time — or even early. If professionalism is a priority, make sure you’re dressed for success, and treat everyone you interact with (both in-person and online) with courtesy. Set the tone and your employees will follow it.
Read more: 5 Ways to Lead by Example at Work

2. A little humility goes a long way.

There’s a difference between a leader and a boss. While both are in charge, a leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Your employees will appreciate it, and your clients will, too.
Read more: Turns Out, Humility Offers a Competitive Advantage

3. Communicate effectively.

Effective communication is imperative, both in the office and in life. Great leaders make sure they are heard and understood, but they also know the importance of listening. Communication is a two-way street, and making the most of it will have your company zooming forward instead of pumping the breaks.
Read more: 4 Tips on Managing Your Business Communications

4. Keep meetings productive.

As the saying goes, time is money. So, of course, you should want to limit tangents and other time wasters during meetings. If you trust your team to do their job, there should be no need for micromanaging, and meetings can run swiftly.
Read more: The 7 Must-Know Rules of Productive Meetings

5. Know your limits.

Even the kindest, most caring leader has limits. Set your boundaries and stick to them. Knowing what you will not tolerate can save everyone in the office a lot of frustration, and keeping boundaries clear means there’s no confusion.
Read more: The SEAL Teams Don’t Accept These 10 Phrases, and Neither Should You

6. Find a mentor.

No man is an island, as they say. The best leaders out there know when they need help, and they know where to turn to in order to get it. Nobody can know everything, so finding someone you trust for advice when things get tough can make all of the difference.
Read more: 7 Surprising Truths About Mentors

7. Be emotionally aware.

While many people advise keeping emotions separate from matters of business, business is ultimately about relationships between people. To make these relationships last, you need to be emotionally intelligent — to be sensitive to different points of view and different backgrounds. When using your head to do what’s best for your company, don’t forget to have a heart.
Read more: Dealing With Feelings: How to Be an Emotionally-Aware Leader

8. Watch out for (and avoid) common pitfalls of leadership.

Everyone makes mistakes, but some of them are avoidable. Being aware of common mistakes, while not focusing on them to the point that they become self-fulfilling prophecies, can be the first step toward not repeating them.
Read more: Avoid These 8 Mistakes as a New Leader

9. Learn from the past.

To once again quote an adage, those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. History, recent and otherwise, is filled with examples of successful business models and spectacular business failures. Think about what the people you admire do well, and consider what went wrong for those who end their careers mired in scandal or disgrace. Lessons can be found everywhere.
Read more: Leadership Lessons From Alexander the Great

10. Never stop improving.

Great leaders — indeed, great people — are constantly learning and always trying to improve themselves. There’s always something that you can work on or a new skill to master. Be sure to keep your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.
Read more: 7 Traits to Turn Good Managers Into Great Managers

How to be a good leader and lead effectively

For many businesspeople, the last thing you want to worry about (or do) is managing people. You want to get out there and meet customers and create awesome products and bring exciting new opportunities through your front door. But unless you’ve hired people to take on the task of managing your employees, then you’re still on the hook.

The good news is that you can make that task a little bit easier for yourself by remembering these 7 essential leadership keys, and your organization will benefit as a direct result.

1. Delegate wisely

The key to leadership success is to learn to effectively delegate both the responsibility for completing assignments and the authority required to get things done. Many bosses feel that they need to control every little thing that their employees do. This is a recipe for disaster. When you delegate work to employees, you multiply the amount of work you can accomplish while you develop your employees’ confidence, leadership and work skills.

2. Set goals

Every employee needs goals to strive for. Not only do goals give employees direction and purpose, but they ensure that your employees are working towards the overall organizational goals. Set specific and measurable goals with your employees, then regularly monitor their progress toward achieving them.

3. Communicate

Far too many bosses communicate far too little. It’s often difficult for busy business owners and executives to keep their employees up-to-date on the latest organizational news. Regardless, you must make every effort to get employees the information they need to do their jobs quickly and efficiently.

4. Make time for employees

Above all, leadership is a people job. When an employee needs to talk with you–whatever the reason–make sure that you set aside the time to do so. Put your work aside for a moment, put down your smartphone, and focus on the person standing in front of you.

5. Recognize achievements

Every employee wants to do a good job. And when they do a good job, employees want recognition from their bosses. Unfortunately, few bosses do much in the way of recognizing and rewarding employees for a job well done. The good news is that there are many things bosses can do to recognize employees that cost little or no money, are easy to implement, and that take only a few minutes to accomplish.

6. Think about lasting solutions

No matter how difficult the problem, there is always a quick solution, and leaders are happiest when they are devising solutions to problems. The trouble is that, in our zeal to fix things quickly and move on to the next fire, we often overlook the lasting solution that may take longer to develop. Although it’s more fun to be a firefighter, the next time you have a problem to solve in your organization, deal with the cause of the problem instead of simply treating the symptoms.

7. Don’t take It all too seriously

Without a doubt, running a company is serious business. Products and services must be sold and delivered, and money must be made. Despite the gravity of these responsibilities, successful leaders make their organizations fun places to work. Instead of having employees who look for every possible reason to call in sick or to arrive to work late or go home early, organizations work hard and play hard end up with a more loyal, energized workforce.

Free Book Preview: Unstoppable

How to be a good leader and lead effectively

Let’s be honest. Being a great leader ain’t easy. As in an effective, inspiring, well-respected leader for your company.

The good news is that we’ve compiled this list of awesome, actionable leadership tips that will have you running your business. like a boss — a good one. Some are relatively basic but are important reminders. Others, well, perhaps you’ve never considered before.

Consider these tips when upping your leadership game:

1. Lead by example.

Leaders need to show, not just tell. If you want your employees to be punctual, make sure you’re there on time — or even early. If professionalism is a priority, make sure you’re dressed for success, and treat everyone you interact with (both in-person and online) with courtesy. Set the tone and your employees will follow it.
Read more: 5 Ways to Lead by Example at Work

2. A little humility goes a long way.

There’s a difference between a leader and a boss. While both are in charge, a leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Your employees will appreciate it, and your clients will, too.
Read more: Turns Out, Humility Offers a Competitive Advantage

3. Communicate effectively.

Effective communication is imperative, both in the office and in life. Great leaders make sure they are heard and understood, but they also know the importance of listening. Communication is a two-way street, and making the most of it will have your company zooming forward instead of pumping the breaks.
Read more: 4 Tips on Managing Your Business Communications

4. Keep meetings productive.

As the saying goes, time is money. So, of course, you should want to limit tangents and other time wasters during meetings. If you trust your team to do their job, there should be no need for micromanaging, and meetings can run swiftly.
Read more: The 7 Must-Know Rules of Productive Meetings

5. Know your limits.

Even the kindest, most caring leader has limits. Set your boundaries and stick to them. Knowing what you will not tolerate can save everyone in the office a lot of frustration, and keeping boundaries clear means there’s no confusion.
Read more: The SEAL Teams Don’t Accept These 10 Phrases, and Neither Should You

6. Find a mentor.

No man is an island, as they say. The best leaders out there know when they need help, and they know where to turn to in order to get it. Nobody can know everything, so finding someone you trust for advice when things get tough can make all of the difference.
Read more: 7 Surprising Truths About Mentors

7. Be emotionally aware.

While many people advise keeping emotions separate from matters of business, business is ultimately about relationships between people. To make these relationships last, you need to be emotionally intelligent — to be sensitive to different points of view and different backgrounds. When using your head to do what’s best for your company, don’t forget to have a heart.
Read more: Dealing With Feelings: How to Be an Emotionally-Aware Leader

8. Watch out for (and avoid) common pitfalls of leadership.

Everyone makes mistakes, but some of them are avoidable. Being aware of common mistakes, while not focusing on them to the point that they become self-fulfilling prophecies, can be the first step toward not repeating them.
Read more: Avoid These 8 Mistakes as a New Leader

9. Learn from the past.

To once again quote an adage, those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. History, recent and otherwise, is filled with examples of successful business models and spectacular business failures. Think about what the people you admire do well, and consider what went wrong for those who end their careers mired in scandal or disgrace. Lessons can be found everywhere.
Read more: Leadership Lessons From Alexander the Great

10. Never stop improving.

Great leaders — indeed, great people — are constantly learning and always trying to improve themselves. There’s always something that you can work on or a new skill to master. Be sure to keep your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.
Read more: 7 Traits to Turn Good Managers Into Great Managers

Employees Need to Believe They Can Trust Their Leader

How to be a good leader and lead effectively

Westend61 / Getty Images

Leaders are hard to find—at any level of your organization. Leaders exhibit a unique blend of charisma, vision, and character traits that attract people to follow them. They exhibit the other nine characteristics around which this article series was developed as well.

But, mostly, as they exhibit these leadership traits and characteristics, they become the person that other people want to follow—even choose to follow given the opportunity.

What Respected Leaders Know

Respected leaders know that they can’t just walk into a room and say, “Hey I’m the leader. Follow me.” If you’re the boss, you can get away with this attitude to a certain degree, but the followers you attract will be compulsory and not following you by their own choice.

They will heed your advice and obey your commands, but it is involuntary followership based on your organizational hierarchy to a large degree.

Leaders understand that to actually lead most effectively and successfully, they need to attract people who want to follow them.

How Leaders Attract Followers

Leaders recognize their need to attract followers. Followership is the key to understanding leadership. To follow, people must feel confident in the direction in which the leader is headed. To have this level of confidence, the leader must have clearly communicated the overall direction, the key outcomes desired, and the principal strategies agreed upon to reach the outcomes.

Then, employees are enabled and empowered to do their part in accomplishing the stated objectives. They have the framework that they need to guide their own actions. And, empowered employees do want to guide their own actions. You will fail as a leader to your best employees if you ever forget this fact.

Employees Need to Trust Leaders

One of the key factors in whether an employee stays with their current employer is that the employee has confidence and trust that the leaders know what they are doing. This confidence gives employees the control they need for their livelihood and supporting their families.

Further, leaders people follow are accountable and trustworthy. If progress towards accomplishing the goals ceases, the leader takes responsibility to analyze the problem—they don’t search for people to blame.

Consequently, people can have confidence that their leader won’t punish them for their efforts if they take reasonable and responsible risks that are well thought out and well-founded. They are accountable and responsible to deserve their leader’s confidence and trust.

Leaders Should Recognize and Reward Success

Followers need to believe that, at the end of the journey, their leader will recognize and reward them for their contribution. The leader must help followers answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Successful leaders are honest about the potential risks inherent in the chosen path as well as the potential rewards.

They communicate, not just the overall direction, but any information their followers need to successfully and skillfully carry out their responsibilities. They recognize that for their followers to perform most effectively they need to understand the big picture.

They also know that their job is to remove barriers that may have a negative impact on the employees’ success—not to micromanage how the employees accomplish their work.

Employees Need Information

They need to know why the organization is pursuing the current strategies. They need their leader for guidance and to help remove any barriers they may experience along the way. Mostly, they need the assurance that their leader has confidence in their ability to perform and produce the desired outcomes.

If any of these factors are missing, leaders will have a tough time attracting followers. At the end of the day, it is the entwining of the relationship of the leader with the followers that makes their organization or portion of the organization succeed.

When the Leader Is Also the Boss

Occasionally, the leader is the person who is in charge, the founder of the business, the CEO, the president, or department head. Leadership qualities combined with positional power magnify the ability of an individual to attract and retain the all-important followers.

In fact, business owners can count on a certain amount of respect and followership based on their ownership and title. Longevity, too, plays a role in attracting and retaining followers. People who have followed the leader for ten years are likely to continue to follow unless they lose trust in the leader’s direction.

But, never forget, no matter what your position is in the organization, even if your current job is a valued contributor, you can become a leader that other employees want to follow.

In fact, in organizations, one of the reasons employees are promoted to positions such as team leader, supervisor, or department manager, is that they have demonstrated over time that people will follow them.

Characteristics of a Successful Leadership Style

Much is written about what makes successful leaders. This series will focus on the characteristics, traits, and actions that many leaders believe are key.