10 things that can make you a successful leader

Why is it that some leaders stand out—performing better than their peers while achieving better results? Is it because they are genetically predisposed to be better leaders, or perhaps because they have better training? I personally believe that today’s very best and most successful leaders got that way by applying some very simple, but powerful habits on the job.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of leaders in business today who need to do a better job. According to the Gallup Organisation, a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged in their jobs or their work. This is a huge problem that creates massive losses for businesses large and small, in every industry. When employees are not engaged in their jobs, then they are not being productive. And when employees are not being productive, then their companies lose money—and customers and market share. The solution? Good leadership practices.

Here, then, are the top-10 habits of today’s most successful leaders.

1. Acknowledge

When things are going well in your organisation, let people know–early and often. Publicly recognise productive employees for their contributions. Make a big deal about it. Encourage outstanding, sustained performance by showing your employees how much their efforts are appreciated. Studies show that acknowledging the great things your employees do can be more motivational than bonuses.

2. Motivate

Set high standards for communication, productivity, and professionalism throughout your organisation. During periods when these standards are not met, avoid assigning blame and singling out poor performance, as these responses only call attention to the problems. Find ways to get back on track as an organisation. Don’t lower your standards, instead, partner with your employees and take on challenges as a team. Enlist your employees’ input to identify blocking issues, focus attention on possible solutions, and strive to meet and exceed expectations.

3. Be Decisive

All leaders must make tough decisions It goes with the job. They understand that in certain situations, difficult and timely decisions must be made in the best interests of the entire organisation, decisions that require a firmness, authority, and finality that will not please everyone. Extraordinary leaders don’t hesitate in such situations. They also know when not to act unilaterally but instead foster collaborative decision-making.

4. Communicate

Communicate clearly, professionally, and often. Employees expect their manager’s honest assessment of their performance. In order to credibly provide this feedback, excellent managers must thoroughly understand their organisations and accurately assess progress. When things are running smoothly, highlight what is working and communicate success throughout the organisation. When problems arise, consider the potential impact you can have by constructively communicating your concerns. Remember that communication is a tool that can (and should) inspire and motivate as well as identify and resolve problems.

5. Trust

Learn to trust your employees. Bosses who believe employees are capable and responsible encourage autonomy while also creating a strong sense of community throughout the organisation. To establish trust, create a safe, positive working environment with open, honest, two-way communication. Trust that your employees will meet or exceed organisational goals when working in a productive, safe, and supportive environment.

6. Be Confident

Not only are the best leaders confident, but their confidence is contagious. Employees are naturally drawn to them, seek their advice, and feel more confident as a result. When challenged, they don’t give in too easily, because they know their ideas, opinions and strategies are well-informed and the result of much hard work. But when proven wrong they take responsibility and quickly act to improve the situations within their authority.

7. Develop

Set up your employees for success, not failure. Provide them with the tools and training they need to reach their full potential, and to meet and exceed the standards you have set. Encourage them to identify their strengths and what motivates them. When possible, incorporate what drives them into their daily tasks.

8. Direct

Ensure that your employees feel challenged with their jobs, but not overwhelmed. Create a clean, wellmaintained, and organized working environment where they can do their work and feel comfortable. Delegate tasks appropriately and look for opportunities to maximize each employee’s strengths.

9. Partner

Make your employees feel like they are a part of something special and that their efforts are truly appreciated. Involve them directly in the success of the organisation. Create and cultivate a sense of camaraderie, where people feel it is fun to come to work, because it is a positive and productive environment and they feel they are part of an efficient, skilled, and highly successful community.

10. Be Honest and Transparent

Strong leaders treat people how they want to be treated. They are extremely ethical and believe that honesty, effort, and reliability form the foundation of success. They embody these values so overtly that no employee doubts their integrity for a minute. They share information openly and avoid spin control. These practices and behaviors will have a major impact on the effectiveness of your employees. Be the very best boss you can be and your employees will step up. When you get the very best from your people, your business will be tough to beat.

(The author is based in California and has over 80 books to his credit)