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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 and 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.

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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.

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 and 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 active 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.

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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.

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 Face What Life Throws at You

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

Bottom Line

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 April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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