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9 Traits Truly Successful Leaders Should Possess

9 Traits Truly Successful Leaders Should Possess

Being a natural leader is a characteristic that not many people possess, though it can be learned if you have the potential. It requires a certain mindset that enables leaders to stay on top and lead their team to success. Here are a few traits that successful leaders have in common.

1. They believe in teamwork

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” — Michael Jordan

Every leader has to be a strong individual and capable of solving some problems on their own. However, they do know that working in a team is the key to success, and they consider themselves to be a part of the team — not just a person who gives orders. They know that the leader is just one part of the bigger mechanism, and that they are there to ensure the other parts, the team members, all work as efficiently as possible together. Leadership is a power that requires cooperation and not competition in order to achieve a desired end goal. Don’t be arrogant, win the championship.

2. They take full responsibility for the team’s mistakes

“The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that’s the day you start to the top” — OJ Simpson

It is perfectly normal that a team makes a mistake and fails at some project. However, a successful leader will not blame the team, but will take the full responsibility while defending his or her people. Mistakes don’t mean that the leader, or even the team, is bad. On the contrary, in order to achieve great things, you need to make a few mistakes along the way.

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A good leader won’t come up with various excuses and search for a person to blame, but will take the responsibility and correct their mistake with their team without making a fuss about it.

3. They focus on solutions, not on problems

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.” — Paul Hawken

A successful leader will not focus on the problem and who made the mistake which led to failure. They will focus on finding the perfect solution and will approach all the possible solutions with a positive attitude. If you focus on the problem, you won’t be able to find the solution — you’ll only get lost in chaos and become stressed out.

4. They listen, then act

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” — Winston Churchill

Everybody has their own opinion, and the leader has the right to act according to his or her own opinions and conclusions. However, a good leader will first listen to the team, or, if there is a problem, listen to everything regarding it before making a decision. Sometimes, there is a simple solution that we aren’t aware of, but somebody else is, and that person might become a very valuable part of your team.

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Moreover, if you don’t act in the heat of the moment, you will be able to think well before making a decision. Successful leaders don’t only act immediately, but they also listen and talk to the team, and are calm and collected when making decisions.

5. They don’t panic

“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.” — Robert E. Lee

It doesn’t matter if you didn’t meet a deadline or if something went wrong along the way, if a leader starts overreacting and panicking in such situations, know that he or she isn’t a good leader. The ability to stay calm is the main characteristic of every successful boss. If the head of the team starts panicking, it negatively affect all the team members, who are then supposed to work under pressure. Having a boss who overreacts and stressed-out employees will not solve any problem, it will just make things worse.

No one wants a drama queen in their office, especially not a leader who acts like a bridezilla when you have to reach a tight deadline.

6. They dress for success

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” — Gore Vidal

It might not sound important, but how one dresses actually affects the opinion that other team members, upper management, and clients have of that person. If a leader wears inappropriate or overly casual clothing to work, they will be seen as an unprofessional and potentially incompetent individual. This won’t reflect the professionalism which the company is trying to convey to its clients. No one says that they should wear expensive formal clothes, but you need to know the difference between casual and professional attire. Men should definitely forget about wearing sneakers or college sweaters and focus on stylish clothes, which make them look more sophisticated.

In business, clothes matter, and not just to show money and power, but to increase your credibility, trustworthiness, and professionalism.

7. They understand their employees

“The trick is to ensure that your staff feels empowered. As your team members grow into their jobs, give them real responsibilities: They’ll respect you for it and do everything they can to rise to the challenge.” — Richard Branson

Knowing your employees and understanding them is of great importance if you want to have a motivated workforce. They aren’t robots, but people who cannot accomplish everything without encountering certain problems, which may make them insecure and a bit unproductive. A successful leader knows when their employee has a problem and has time to discuss it. A bad leader will offer to give that task to someone else, but a good one will approach the problem and solve it with that employee.

Every natural leader looks after their team, and works on making them feel accepted and respected.

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8. They inspire other workers

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” — Ralph Nader

You know you are a successful leader when your workers wish to become leaders just like you. It is a hard task, but when you succeed in it, you know that your work has inspired them to achieve more in life and contribute to the company by working harder. Successful leaders constantly inspire their team to improve and challenge them to do more. If you are sitting in your office, thinking that that’s all you’ll ever achieve, know that you are working for the wrong person.

Also, a good boss will inspire their employees to finish demanding tasks and motivate them to work harder, without making them feel pressured.

9. They are the kind of leader that they would like to have

“Success is not what you have, but who you are.” — Bo Bennet

Never be the kind of leader you would hate to work for. This isn’t only related to a friendly relationship with your team members, but to the tasks you are giving them to work on as well. Sometimes, bosses can demand certain tasks without thinking about if they are even possible, and how much time is actually needed to complete them effectively. In order to be a successful leader, you have to put yourself in your employees’ shoes and see if you would be capable of reaching the goal you expect of them. Be professional, considerate, authoritative, but still friendly. All in all, imagine who you would like to work for, and be that person.

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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Ask If They like What They’re Doing

If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

More Resources About Team Management

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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