The 10 Leadership Principles Every Leader Needs To Be Great

These are 10 key concepts that leaders can implement to better their leadership skills and manage more effectively

Like many of you, I’ve worked for a variety of people and personalities. From those experiences, good and bad, I’ve seen common characteristics among my managers who were truly great leaders. They were able to inspire others, foster productivity, and create environments where people were able to accomplish their work well.

There is a difference between management and leadership, many of the bad leaders didn’t grasp this idea. Most of the bad bosses I’ve had were horrible leaders, even if they happened to be a good manager. But, almost all of the bad managers were also terrible leaders. In those situations, leadership came from others within the group who were able to exhibit the leadership characteristics below even though they didn’t have positional authority. From all this, regardless of industry, the size of the company, or revenue I’ve found the following 10 leadership principles are what separate great leaders from the rest:

  1. Stay on top of what is and what isn't getting done. A.A. Milne said, “Organizing is what you do before you do something so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” Knowing what’s actually getting done and what is not getting done is essential. Focus on bringing what is in your mind to the surface when it's time to take action. Try writing these things down so your current task can be focused on properly.
  2. Never let winning become an obsession. With all the technology out there, it is not hard to make everything a game of spreadsheets, stats, and goals. Managers must do this so they can keep track of the team's progress. Yet, while complementary roles, your focus as a leader should be on the success of your team itself, rather than fixated on the numbers.
  3. Own your mistakes. Even the best leader is bound to make mistakes sometimes. A great leader can admit to missteps and speak about them honestly with her employees. It shows you have flaws---like all humans. It is okay, even for leaders, to be human. Your ability to be transparent will gain respect and loyalty.
  4. Decisive leaders are successful. Because you are the designated leader, lots of decisions will be up to you. Showing you’re a good leader means making decisions that will benefit the group as a whole. Making decisions that bring advantages to only a few will be quickly noticed and even resented.
  5. Keep things simple. When you are a leader, simplicity is crucial. In order to do that, you must concentrate on the truly important things first. Start by setting your priorities around the things that are most important to you or integral to the success of your project. You should also give yourself and others time to think.
  6. Your employees are not mind readers. Often, we take for granted that because people know us that they always know what we want or understand what we request. Remember, even the people that do know you well do not always understand you. So, don’t take for granted that your employees will know exactly what you want without clear directions. Be sure they understand exactly what’s expected of them and be willing to communicate regularly with them to ensure continued understanding. This will help foster a willingness in employees to come back to ask questions when necessary.
  7. Show appreciation. Always tell others how much they, and their work, mean to you. Taking a moment out of your day to show your appreciation is extremely important in building a positive work environment. That little acknowledgment can brighten a day, and lift a mood, and it costs you nothing.
  8. Integrity and leadership go hand in hand. Integrity is shown by a commitment to honesty and doing what is right, even in an absence of scrutiny. Without integrity, people will not trust you. Lead with integrity to instill trust, loyalty, and respect in your team.
  9. Use your role to build a unified, strong team. Be available to your team members to answer questions and offer advice. Your employees should be able to handle their day-to-day positions without too much interference from you. However, they rely on you to provide them with a mission to accomplish, a vision to work towards, and to define the purpose of their work. This “rallying call” creates cohesion for the interdependence of each members’ work and establishes camaraderie.
  10. Keep an open mind. Make sure that your mind is always ready to learn new leadership skills. Your dedication to increasing your abilities is critical to not only being a good leader but remaining one. If you really want to become a great leader you must devote time to personal and professional development. Join workshops, take classes, or seek the help of a coach to support and stretch you. The leadership field is constantly growing and evolving with new theories and information. Make sure to stay up to date about your industry, your role, and your skills.

Ultimately, leadership is a quality that many people are looking for in their lives. No one’s perfect, but consistent self-improvement and focus on continuous learning can help you become a great leader. Knowing who to turn to and what advice to listen to is crucial in developing good leadership skills. Hopefully, the information in this article is beneficial and you reference it regularly as a part of your leadership toolkit.

To help you remember these 10 steps be sure to download our free infographic below.