Everyone can lead, but not everyone can be a successful leader. There are certainly traits and characteristics that many great leaders have in common, and it would be easy enough to list some of the qualities we traditionally associate with successful leaders.

But leadership, like everything else in the world today, is being reinvented. It’s time to take a new look at what you need to do to be a successful leader.

According to Margaret Callaway of the Callaway Leadership Institute:

The social, political, and economic conditions of the 21st century have forever changed the roles and responsibilities of today’s leaders. In these changing times, leaders can no longer rely on traditional, historical leadership constructs based on simple hierarchical authority and concentrated decision-making power.

Old school is just that: old school. The skills needed for you to become a more successful leader in this century are skills that fit with today’s brave new world.

9 Keys to Being a More Successful Leader in Today’s World:

  1. Humility: You can be confident and strong while retaining your humility. Humility comes not from having a low view of self, but in having a deep understanding that every single person brings different skills, talents and abilities to the proverbial table. The greatest leaders celebrate those differences and know that no one skill makes any individual better than another.
  2. Gratitude: There is no such thing as a great leader who does not have a supportive, invested team or tribe. Being gracious to your team, praising your tribe, expressing your gratitude and thanking those who support, contribute and help you, is vital to being a successful leader. People who feel appreciated for who they are will work more and better for you. Expressing gratitude is a way of honoring each person and what they offer.
  3. Be yourself before and after your big “win”: Nothing calls a leader’s intention more into question than a leader who seems to suddenly change who they are, midstream. When this occurs it smacks of being a tactic, rather than something genuine. You should be humble and gracious before you are a known leader, and you should continue to be that way even if you lead great numbers of people. And if you’re a leader who switches midstream to get more votes or volunteers, then boo on you.
  4. Embrace change: The ability to be dynamic in decision-making and goals and outlook is not just kind of important in today’s world: you can’t lead without this ability. If you as a leader resist change, then so will your tribe. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a leader at work, at home, or of a country; to succeed today, to stay in business or to stay strong economically, you must have the capacity to embrace change because as a world we are moving at an unprecedented pace.
  5. Creative team tapping: A great leader has an innate sense of how to best tap into the creative skills of each person they work with. Tapping into all those yummy talents and skills of each team or tribe member will allow everyone to grow, move forward, become stronger and so achieve more – as individuals and as a group. Gone are the days when a leader could demand that people mindlessly obey. Now a successful leader should inspire people to bring their unique creativity to the team.
  6. Cooperation: Cooperating with those around you and leading your team/tribe toward cooperation should be a primary goal. The cooperative approach is in essence the process of working together toward the same vision. We can use cooperation as a solid base for a strong family life, a successful business and a vision-inspired world.
  7. Intuition: Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately without having to analyze or reason. All successful leaders have, and use, their intuition. You might think of it as your gut feeling. But no matter what you call it, there are moments in time when a leader must make a quick decision based on instinct. Successful leaders trust their intuition.
  8. No fear-based decision-making: It takes courage to acknowledge your fears and then not let them control your decisions. Fear-based decisions take away power and abundance. They are, in effect, a way of running from something rather than moving toward a greater vision. It isn’t that successful leaders have no fears, it’s that they understand their fears so they know when and how to keep those fears from ruling the roost.
  9. Transparency: Let’s face it, there are no more secrets. Honesty and transparency allow your team/tribe to maintain their trust in you. Without trust, a leader simply cannot lead. And let’s be honest: today, whatever you hope to keep in the dark will just be dug up and displayed all over social media so it behooves you as a leader to be transparent. If you make a mistake, admit to it, make amends and move on.

You can develop your skills to become a more successful leader in today’s society. We need great leaders, leaders who are willing to stand up and stand out who can lead us forward in positive ways. And it doesn’t matter whether you are a leader of one other person who calls you mom, or you lead a nation, leadership today is all about moving us forward as a whole, while honoring each and every individual.

Featured photo credit: Cool Bird Formation/ DeaPeaJay via flickr.com

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