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Published on March 7, 2019

10 Leadership Goals That Strong Leaders Set for Themselves

10 Leadership Goals That Strong Leaders Set for Themselves

When most of us think of leaders, we usually focus on those individuals that stand out as particularly powerful, popular, or highly influential. We may think of current and past Presidents and politicians, world-renowned speakers and thought leaders, business and corporate gurus, even sports and entertainment celebrities.

But true leadership isn’t defined by popularity, external power or influence. Strong leaders are often at work in the background and out of the spotlight, comfortable and confident in their ability to affect change draw forth the best in others.

Leadership has nothing to do with title. A true leader does not desire power and control over others. Rather, a strong leader marks his or her success by the number of people they inspire and empower.

They do this not by force, intimidation or coercion, nor by way of their name, position or rank. They do so through their actions, and by demonstrating their personal power, values and integrity at all times.

Let’s look at what makes a strong leader, and what types of leadership goals inspire good leaders to become even better.

1. Developing Personal Responsibility & Self-Discipline

If you want to become a better leader, you need to fully understand and have leadership of yourself. In order to teach others to take responsibility and leadership in their own work and lives, a strong leader strives always to demonstrate and model these qualities.

This means accepting full responsibility for one’s life as it is, including one’s decisions, actions, behaviors and outcomes, be they positive or negative. It means viewing one’s mistakes and one’s successes with equal appreciation for the lessons and gifts they impart.

Being a strong leader also means practicing and developing self-discipline in order that one’s decisions and actions are undertaken in an unbiased and controlled manner, and that one is always fully aware of and prepared for the repercussions of those actions and decisions.

2. Learning to Fail Gracefully

A true leader strives for perfection while understanding that it is an illusion that can’t actually be attained. As such, they expect to fail at least as often as they succeed, and they simply count losses into the equation.

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Trying to cover up or hide their mistakes and failures, giving in to rage, or blaming others for their losses not only makes them look foolish; it also deprives them of the opportunity to learn from their losses and grow as leaders.

A strong leader isn’t afraid or ashamed to fail, and instead fully examines the losses, scouring them thoroughly for opportunities for learning, making adjustments and improvements for the future. A leader refuses to let the value of their mistakes pass them by.

In this way, a good leader can walk away from his or her mistakes and failures with grace and dignity, thereby empowering and allowing others to do the same.

3. Practicing Careful & Active Listening

Canadian clinical psychologist and professor Jordan B. Peterson taught that we should treat every person we meet as if they know something valuable that we don’t.[1]

In doing so, we approach each person, regardless of position or title, with the curiosity of a beginner’s mind, and we treat others in a way that is naturally respectful.

When a good leader practices this kind of listening, not only does he or she foster respect in those they are leading, but they also gain from the wisdom that is inherent in each and every person.

4. Developing Well-Roundedness

An important key to success as a leader in any arena is developing multiple areas of competence.

This means potentially mastering separate disciplines which at first glance may not have an obvious connection, but that ultimately provides one with a robust and varied ‘toolbox’ of skills and knowledge to choose from when confronted with difficult or challenging situations. And even the loftiest of goals requires the skills and know-how to get things done in the real world.

Being well-rounded in one’s scope of experience and skills also means one will be better able to relate with, understand, and therefore lead a broader spectrum of people.

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5. Building Resilience

This one goes hand in hand with #4 above. By always striving to increase and diversify his or her knowledge and competence, a good leader builds resilience in the face of hardship.

You might think of resilience as the opposite of powerlessness,[2] but resilience is that set of qualities and character traits that allows us to remain flexible in times of change, to bend instead of breaking when we are faced with stresses and challenges, and to endure and overcome life’s inevitable hardships and failures.

Resilience can also be of a financial nature; laying a solid groundwork in which one is able to manage money without succumbing to temptation, being unduly influenced by passing trends, or behaving recklessly will allow one to weather financial storms gracefully and independently.

Learn more about building resilience in this guide:

How to Build Resilience to Survive in This Difficult World

6. Developing Leadership Presence

To be an effective leader, one must gain the respect of others. It’s not enough to have the skills and knowledge to get things done – a leader must earn the loyalty and allegiance of those they are hoping to lead.

While confidence, communication skills and poise can certainly help create the aura of leadership, it’s not enough. No matter how polished you are, if you are not a person of integrity, your power will be paper thin.

Integrity comes from knowing who you are, being clear on your core values and what you stand for, and then behaving and speaking in line with all of that. You cannot hope to inspire loyalty, honesty and respect in others if you do not behave in a manner that is honest, loyal and respectful.

Humility and open-mindedness are other vital qualities to foster if you hope to be an inspiring and respected leader.

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7. Identifying and Fostering Leadership in Others

Followers are important. People who take direction and run the minute operations of complicated processes literally make the world run.

The role of the leader, on the other hand, is primarily to mentor, delegate and direct others. He or she understands that it is vitally important to make themselves redundant by creating new leaders who can eventually step into the role they currently occupy.

True leaders of industry and business know that they need to surround themselves with competent people in order to succeed, and will actively seek out and foster leadership qualities in others.

They are not concerned with maintaining top rank or preserving ego – they understand that encouraging others to improve and become leaders ultimately means they can reach their goals faster, and this benefits them as well as the entire organization/business/society.

8. Understanding Persuasion

Being a good leader is essentially an exercise in psychology and human behavior. A leader understands that all people, including themselves, are emotional creatures, and that they will not respond positively to instructions, information or guidance to which they feel hostility, confusion or doubt.

As a result, a leader knows he or she must learn to effectively communicate using the emotional language that most people live in and through. By building rapport, and speaking to the emotional limbic system, a smart leader is able to better convince others that he or she is coming from a place of integrity and knowledge, and dispel any hesitancy or opposition.

A strong leader also understands what motivates others to want to help them in their cause, and strives to encourage others by building their confidence and bringing out their best qualities.

9. Managing Personal Resources

The brain is, like a muscle, capable of exerting a certain amount of work effort for a certain period of time. And just like any other muscle, it needs rest time to rebuild and restore itself.

Our emotional and energetic bodies are similarly wired. Too much output or stress on any of these systems for too long will result in ineffectiveness, exhaustion and eventually break down.

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Those determined to master the art of leadership recognize that their personal resources – their energy, emotions and minds – are not limitless, and need to be recharged on a regular basis.

Good leaders take care of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally, and are careful not to overload themselves.

10. Always Seeing the Bigger Picture

A great leader always endeavors to think in terms of the bigger picture, keeping a bird’s eye view of the events and happenings of the day-to-day so as not to lose site of the larger goal.

This is a worthwhile thing to do, regardless of your position in life. The iNLP Center points out that viewing issues from a distance is clinically proven to be an effective problem-solving method.[3]

They strive to maintain a sense of clarity at all times, practicing seeing through the fog of the temporary and ever-shifting, and keeping their sites steadied on the path ahead. In this way, a strong leader doesn’t get caught up in the panic or drama of the current challenges, missteps or obstacles, and is able to deal effectively and calmly with the unexpected without getting thrown off track.

Becoming a True Leader

While real leaders are not particularly common in our society, by studying other great leaders — those who lead by example, who inspire trust and loyalty through their integrity, who remain humble and open-minded, and who are able to make difficult decisions for the greater good — we can learn to strengthen our own leadership skills and become more effective in our roles as bosses, managers, teachers and visionaries.

More Resources About Leadership

Featured photo credit: Ardiss Hutaff via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mike Bundrant

Co-Founder @inlpcenter, which offers NLP training and life coach certification to students in over 70 countries.

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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