Advertising
Advertising

The CEO’s Guide to True Leadership

The CEO’s Guide to True Leadership

Leadership will never just ‘happen’. It is a state of mind and a way of acting in the world. Simply working hard and growing older will not guarantee that the opportunities and skills will just come to you. In other words, you need to actively grow into a leader instead of passively hoping that life will be kind to you.

Definition of Leadership

Some of us will be in the right place at the right time – your chance may come as you shuffle up the hierarchy and into a leadership role. But getting promoted doesn’t make you an instant leader. This is just the beginning of your journey – a chance to realize your potential.

Advertising

This even applies if you are the CEO of a company – you may be a ‘boss’ but you may not be a ‘leader’.

Begin Your Leadership Journey

Being a leader is about inspiring others to join you in pursuit of the same goals. Remember that leadership skills can be practised anywhere at any time, regardless of your official status. Be a leader at home, at school, at work – it’s a way of life.

Advertising

As the CEO of Lifehack, I’ve been taking the leadership journey – and I’ve gathered together into one handy guide some of the most useful tips for all aspiring leaders.

1. Positivity Is at the Core of Leadership

2. Confidence Comes from Within

Only a fraction of people are blessed with natural confidence – luckily, for the rest of us, it can also be built. Don’t draw confidence from the external world because it’s unreliable and ever-changing. Instead.

Advertising

3. Learning Is Everything

4. Mistakes Are Nothing

  • Make The Most Mistakes: Leaders do not shy away from taking actions that may be in error. They take risks and make controllable mistakes – from this they learn and grow.
  • Master Making Mistakes: Leaders can handle mistakes because they excel at resilience.

5. Criticism is Opportunity

6. Capitalizing Strengths

  • Pick the Right Battlefield for the Biggest Leverage: Leaders recognize that time is a limited resource. So the best things to focus our energies on are things that give the biggest leverage. Developing strengths is more effective than fixing weaknesses. A leader will always address any weakness that’s holding them back – but not without capitalizing on their strengths first.

7. Selling Visions

  • Sales Skills Turn You From Good To Great: Leaders sell visions and goals to those they lead and to their target clients. So brush up on some key sales skills here to convince others that your dreams are worth pursuing.
  • A Presentation That Will Impress Everyone: Leaders are storytellers – they know that a compelling narrative can inspire others to accept their ideas. So learn how your presentation skills make all the difference when you want others to get on board with your dream.

8. Every Second Counts

9. A Disciplined Life to Stay on Top Form

  • Morning Routine to Stay Sharp Every Day: Leaders live a disciplined life in order to always be at peak performance. This discipline begins right from the moment they wake up. A morning routine allows them to keep their brain sharp every day.
  • Rituals that Guarantee A Good Night Sleep: Leaders are no strangers to the reality of stress. But they know that balancing an active and energetic life with enough sleep is essential).

True Leadership Takes Time

Becoming a leader is not easy. That’s the beauty of it – everyone could learn to be a leader, but not everyone believes it or actually takes action. If you put in the time and effort, you can reach the top first – and then help others rise up too.

Go out there and be the leader you’ve always meant to be!

Advertising

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are 10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today How To Be A Successful Person (And What Makes One Unsuccessful)

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next