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The Most Important Qualities Of Real Leaders That Many People Overlook

The Most Important Qualities Of Real Leaders That Many People Overlook
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Real leaders bring a variety of qualities to their work and their teams. Some start with an inspiring vision and a passion to share that message. Others become leaders because they attract attention due to their accomplishments. Without faith and trust, a leader will ultimately fail. Take inspiration from these real leaders in various fields and how they have inspired others to trust them.

Earn Faith Through results

Delivering results is a key way to earn the trust and respect of others in your organization. In fact, some leaders start by following orders and achieving results even if they had wished to do something differently. The ability to achieve results for your organization matters a great deal.

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Consider the military career of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Many of us know of Eisenhower from his time as U.S. President or as the Supreme Commander in Europe during the World War II. However, his early military career did not go according to plan. During the World War I, he was eager to be deployed to Europe. However, he was assigned to train and develop new soldiers in the U.S. Training new soldiers was important for the military and Eisenhower did it well, even though he would have preferred another assignment.

Lesson 1: earn trust by achieving results with whatever assignment you are given. This guidance is very important when you are establishing credibility in a new role or at a new organization.

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Keep Promises, Day After Day

Do you know what the top quality people want in leaders according to global surveys? It is not an Ivy League education. It is not industry connections or outstanding sales ability. According to research conducted by leadership authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, integrity and keeping your word is the top quality people seek in leaders.

Building your reputation for keeping promises starts small. You make a promise to meet a deadline for a customer and you keep it. You promise to give a special bonus to a star performer if they meet certain criteria and you follow through. If you’re uncertain about your ability to make keep a promise, be clear about that fact up front.

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If you are disorganized, you will have a hard time remembering all your commitments and keeping your word. I recommend learning a productivity system. Start by reading Leading Yourself With Getting Things Done.

Lesson 2: keeping trust as a leader is earned or lost one day at a time. As a leader, you can’t make excuses about simply forgetting your promises. You need to learn a productivity system, or work with a highly capable personal assistant.

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Develop Yourself To Lead Better

Arrogance is a frustrating and common trait in many leaders in the business world. Acting as though you are all-knowing also makes it difficult for your people to connect with you. Instead, real leaders look for ways to stay humble and keep growing.

As a young man, George Washington had great challenges. During his teenage years, Washington’s father died. He also lacked the benefit of a college education, a deficiency that he worked to address. Washington developed himself by becoming a student of etiquette and building relationships with influencers. This foundation of social graces, a strong network, and other capabilities gave him the ability to lead during the dark days of the War of Independence.

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Lesson 3: lifelong learning is no longer optional. As a leader, it is up to you to be a role model for those you lead. Real leaders, past and present, put their time and energy into learning new ideas. With Internet learning resources, there’s no reason you can’t start learning today.

Featured photo credit: Rock Climbing/spencerlikestorun via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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