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6 Things True Leaders Do

6 Things True Leaders Do

Early in your career, your self-worth is frequently tied to individual accomplishments. You make your mark by being a doer and by delivering results. There are outputs you can point to with pride, and you’re able to leave at the end of the day feeling a sense of accomplishment. If you’re not already a true leader, below are six strategies that you can learn from people who have already made the transition from a doer to a true leader.

1.  Define what success looks like for your team and share it broadly and consistently.

Try writing down your definition of success on a 3×5 card. This will ensure it’s tangible, focused and easy for you and your team to remember.

2. Establish clear expectations for each person and position on your team.

This is an essential part of being a leader, but it is often overlooked. People crave a clear understanding of what is expected of them, especially employees who are new to the company.

3. Make peace with the fact that you can’t know everything.

The most underappreciated aspect of being a leader is that you don’t have to know it all. This should be a relief. The more comfortable you are relying on others and bolstering their areas of expertise, the stronger more and more potent your team will be.

Related: Bar Rescue’s Jon Taffer to Entrepreneurs: Firing People Is Part of Your Job

4.  Support your team and colleagues by helping them solve problems.

Running an efficient business requires that your team is able to effectively and confidently solve daily problems that inevitably arise. The greatest gift you can give them is to make it clear you are available to be a steady, calm sounding board.

5.  Ask smart questions that provoke insight and action.

It’s a common instinct to simply tell team members what to do — after all, isn’t that what you’re getting paid for? But don’t underestimate the value of inquiring instead of demanding. By asking open-ended questions, you empower your team to improve existing practices and create innovative solutions.

6.  Eliminate confusion by clearing obstacles.

While it’s not always glamorous, running interference to clear an open path for your team to succeed is a key component of the role. As a leader, part of your job is to anticipate potential problems down the line and create contingency plans so your team is prepared to handle setback as they arise.

Effective leadership is difficult to achieve; it’s hard to let go of your inner doer. However, the more you lean into the above leadership principles, the more value you can bring to your team and organization, the more satisfied you will be with your job and the less you will feel like a fraud.

Article Credits Go Respectably to Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

55 thoughts on “6 Things True Leaders Do”

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  3. These are applicable to almost every situation in life—work, school, relationships! Being a good leader also means you’re a good classmate, partner, or coworker. Being a leader means you’re also on a team.

  4. Hey i just wrote a post for the millionaires digest, please how long does it take to review before publishing…. Because i uploaded it and it says pending review…

  5. Great article here. I think the most important piece is setting clear expectations. People can’t progress if they don’t know which way is forward. Thanks for the quick, pointed, and easy read!

  6. Excellent article. #5 about using questions ties nicely into the book I am writing (working on second draft; title: Questioning Leadership). It is absolutely critical to use questions to ensure that your team is fully participating and that you are getting the best from them.

    I do have a quibble with #1 Define what success looks like. I have seen too many instances of ‘leadership’ that mistates the problem to be happy with this. I think that defining team success should be a participatory activity for the whole team. However, my focus is on leadership of teams of highly intelligent and creative people; I understand that some teams need more directive leadership. — Mike

  7. Great tips here! All are so essential to leadership and thank you for writing about this fascinating topic! One thought to add on to #2 Establishing Clear Expectations…once you do that you have to follow up with your people and make sure your people follow up with their people and so on–everyone craves guidance. On

    1. Well I wasn’t finished….

      What I mean is you have to let them know how they met those expectations you set out in the first place. Plan for feedback and let them know their strengths as well as weaknesses. Be positive! Invite them to come up with solutions for resolving their weaknesses. Always great when people become vested in the company/goals. Thanks again! I always enjoy thoughts on leadership.

  8. Nice post! True leaders are able to cast a vision, align a strong team around that vision and support its growth and implementation. A true leader must also have a full understanding of the strengths of team members and fully utilize those assets. A true leader also respects the time element, true cultural change (if needed) does not come quickly and is often not noticed by the change agents themselves. Visit bossinthemiddle.com for more leadership insights.

  9. These are great. Forming a core team with key team members and gaining alignment on elements in smaller groups before presenting them to larger groups will also help a leader successfully grow an organization. This flushes ideas through a group of competent folks and earns respect for the leader as he/she allows the team to grow and share in the success. Identify the key players. See bossinthemiddle.com for more leadership insights.

  10. I absolutely agree with #5. As a leader, you should be guiding your team to develop their skills. This means asking questions which may force them to come up with the answers themselves or thinking about the problem abstraclly.

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  12. Excellent blog. ‘Especially number 3 and the use of open ended questions to unlock the team’s insight. Doubly effective when the team’s ideas are shaped and given rein…and the team is given credit.

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