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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 August 19, 2019

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

1. Know Thyself

One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

An unexamined life is not worth living.

I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

2. Figure out What Matters to You

What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

3. Play to Your Strengths

Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

4. Listen to Yourself

It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

“If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

6. Make Time for Reflection

It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

  • What went well today
  • Something you’re grateful for
  • What would make tomorrow even better

Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Arguably the most important step of all:

Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

“I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

Reference

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