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7 Reasons Why Some People Are Great Leaders

7 Reasons Why Some People Are Great Leaders
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According to American scholar Warren Bennis, leadership can be defined as “the capacity to translate vision into reality”. There have been numerous examples of this throughout history, from military conflicts and humanitarian projects, to the worlds of commerce and business. Take the British manufacturing sector, for example, in which companies led a remarkable recovery after outsourcing had triggered a rapid decline. As a result, UK manufacturing now employs more than 2.5 million people and accounts for an impressive 52 % of all national exports.

This underlines how good and strong leadership can drive positive change, even in the most challenging of circumstances. It also offers an insight into the qualities needed to make a great leader, many of which have fundamental value that can be transferred across various worlds and industries. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the reasons that distinguish individuals as great leaders.

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1. They Can Inspire Trust from Those Around Them

Despite many of the trappings that are associated with leadership, the successful direction of others has nothing to do with status, titles or seniority. Instead, it is driven by an innate ability to inspire trust from those around you, whether this is through honest communication or physical example. If you are able to achieve this, you can influence others and maximize their potential while also enabling them to share in your unique vision.

2. They Continually look to Evolve and Improve

Rather than wilting under the pressure of challenging tasks or exercises, those with leadership qualities tend to thrive and achieve greater heights. Statistics also suggest that 70 % of leaders learned their most important lessons through challenging assignments and unexpected job changes, and this underlines their willingness to constantly improve and use hardship as a way of driving their evolution.

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3. They are Passionate and Focused

Maintaining the drive to continually evolve as an individual can be difficult, but leaders can often rely on their passion and focus when negating difficult times. Heartfelt passion provides them with the motivation to keep going when they face considerable challenges, for example, while an ability to maintain focus ensures that their positive energy is used constructively. Such enthusiasm is also authentic and infectious, meaning that it will draw others to share in your goals.

4. They Take Ownership of Strategic and Mission Critical Tasks

The world is littered with fascinating tales from our intrepid entrepreneurs, with one concerning Richard Branson particularly interesting. After being challenged by his aunt that he couldn’t learn to swim during a family holiday, Branson urged his father to pull over on the way home and jumped into a nearby river before swimming to shore. He won the bet, and underlined the fearless nature that leaders must adopt if they are to succeed over time . In business terms, this translates into a willingness to take ownership of strategic and mission critical tasks before executing these under extreme pressure.

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5. They are Never Satisfied

Richard Branson is particularly interesting as an entrepreneur, as he clearly embodies many of the traits required for natural leadership. Not only is he fearless when conceiving ideas and bringing them to fruition, but he is also never satisfied and constantly looks to embark on new and exciting projects. This ethos is also reflected in the way in which specific work tasks and projects are approached, as true leaders never stand still and are always seeking future growth opportunities, however they may arise.

6. They are Driven by the Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is an often discussed psychological concept, although it is also misunderstood in many instances. Although it can be detrimental if this fear becomes all-consuming, true leaders use this as an engine to drive their endeavors and achieve future success. This fear then becomes a purposeful motivational tool, and one which has the potential to drive greater levels of effort and output. Great leaders can also put this psychological outlook into action, by maintaining this drive even after they have failed or fallen short of their expectations.

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7. They Communicate Openly and with Humility

While leadership is a serious subject, the greatest practitioners throughout history have always had a keen sense of wit and humor. Think of the great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example, whose humorous quips and quotations are legendary and have managed to transcend generations. Wittiness is particularly important, as it showcases humility and an appreciation for self-depreciation, which in turn eliminates status and social classes. It is also an entry point into an honest and open relationship, where leaders are able to speak authoritatively and also listen intently to others’ needs.

Featured photo credit: Ogwen Cottage Mountains via upload.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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