‘You have brains in your head, You have feet in your shoes, You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own, And you know what you know, And YOU are the guy who will decide where to go”
At one time in my life, I believed that my success was based on the amount of money I made, how good I was at my job, and how many people liked me. The older I got the more I realized that success for me was actually based around how happy I felt.
I did spend many years caught up in the whirlwind of defining my success by comparing it to how other “successful people” lived their lives. I wasted a lot of energy chasing other peoples’ definition of success.
I never really truly believed I was successful. Many times I felt I was a failure because I believed I was not achieving the levels of success that I perceived people around me were. On the outside I am sure that people considered me to be a success but I never was that happy with myself. I always felt that something was missing and that there was more to life for me.
This Quote Changed My Understanding of Success
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful”.
Many years ago I read Albert Schweitzer’s quote – his words resonated with me. Maybe I was ready to listen, I don’t know but I did stop and think about how unhappy I was and how unsuccessful I felt. I then tried to work out what I wanted to do that made me happy.
In my heart I always knew that I wanted to live my life writing and teaching, but the thoughts in my head blocked any attempt to acknowledge how much my dream meant to me and there was no way I could tell anyone else either, it was just too scary.So I kept my secret hidden for a long time.
It was also very hard for me to break free from the cycle of success that I aspired to. I was living a life where I believed that money and status would bring me success. I l pursued this definition of success, because, I felt I had to and I was too scared NOT to. When everyone around you works really hard, earns lots of money, has lots of status and all the toys that come with it, you want to have all of that too! You want your kids to have all the things that their friends have and you want to enjoy the comforts of life as well. So you keep working believing that you have no other options and you keep convincing yourself that life is not that bad – but for me over a time it became bad and I started to feel that my life was slipping by.Advertising
Even though I knew what I wanted to do with my life, I did not do anything about it for a long time. There were some feeble attempts but when I got scared I would scurry back to living a life that was familiar and comfortable. I still had to face a few more knock backs before I committed to begin my journey to discovering how to be successful and happy with my life.
“The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.”
-Dalai Lama XIV
I was following the wrong path to success and as a result my chances of feeling that I was successful were zero. Once I started to get clear about what success meant for me and began the journey to living a life where I truly felt successful, then I discovered what it felt like to be happy.
“I want to define success by redefining it. For me it isn’t that solely mythical definition – glamour, allure, power of wealth, and privileged from care. Any definition of success should be personal because it is so transitory. It’s about shaping my own destiny”.
To start the journey to becoming and truly believing that you are successful is hard work and it took me many years to find the courage to step out and begin the journey. If you are wanting success and happiness in your life then you need to really look at the “bad habits” you have created in your life that stop you from achieving the level of success that you desire.
For me there were 10 bad habits I needed to eliminate. By sharing with you how I managed to overcome these bad habits, hopefully this will help you to find your courage to begin your journey to attaining a life of happiness and success.
1. Believing that you have to wait for the right time to begin.
There is no perfect time to start this journey. It will never be perfect and you will always have challenges and obstacles to overcome – it doesn’t really matter – just start NOW. When you choose to be successful then the actions, the decisions and the choices you make today will create your future.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”.
2. Accepting that moderate success is easier to achieve then aiming to achieve your wildest dreams.
It is so much easier to accept being moderately successful than aiming to achieve success beyond your wildest dreams. Dream big and set goals that are beyond the realms of your current reality – go for it ,you may just surprise yourself as to what amazing successes you can achieve.
“If any of you have a desire to be mediocre, you will probably find that you have already achieved your ambition.”
-Hugh B. Brown
3. Believing other peoples’ approval is important to defining your success in life.
You will never start your journey to success if you are waiting for others to give their approval. It is your ego and your fear of being criticised that directs you to seeking their approval. Get over it and move on and do what you have to do to be successful. For me committing to my 12 month plan with practical goals, set tasks and activities was how I overcame this bad habit. I just had to follow the plan and didn’t need anyones approval to do so.
“The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. Believing that your success can only be defined by the success in your professional life.
This bad habit you have to give up immediately because there is no way you can be successful in one part of your life. Your professional and your personal life are interconnected and all aspects of your life need to be balanced.
“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”
5. Using other peoples’ definition of success to define who you are and what success looks like for you.
This was one of my really bad habits, in that I constantly compared other people’s successes to how I wanted success to be for me in my life. I now know that success comes from within and once I achieved true happiness living the life I love, then success was guaranteed. Using other peoples success, as a benchmark for my success in life would not bring me happiness – that was something only I could do, nobody else could do that for me.
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner”
6. Believing that money and wealth is the only measurement to defining how successful you are
I don’t know why so many of us believe that money and wealth defines how successful we are. If I wanted success in my life I had to be earning lots of money – the happiness would come later! Well that didn’t work out for me – even with money I didn’t feel successful! I knew in my heart that money wasn’t going to bring me happiness and for me to feel that I was successful I had to overcome my belief that, my success would be measured by how much money I could make. Once I got that bad habit out of the way, then I was free to embrace on my terms success and happiness in my life.
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing,and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you”
7. Constantly focusing on all the reasons why you don’t deserve success in your life
This bad habit reflects a lack of self-confidence and belief in you! I had to work really hard to overcome this bad habit. For a long time I would rationalise in my head all the reasons why I felt I wasn’t as successful as my peers, colleagues, and friends. I would look back at all the bad choices I had made in my life and wish I could have been a different person. I spent a lot of time wishing I could be the same as everybody else, because then I would be successful! I didn’t deserve success because I didn’t have the qualities that successful people have. Now I reflect back and I shake my head – what was I thinking??
“In the School of Life events, situations, and the people you have attracted to be part of your personal experiences is synchronized perfectly in order to teach you the lessons that need to be learned. They show you exactly what is needed to be successful in your Life.”
8. You don’t know what you want or what success means for you so you just don’t do anything.
Achieving success in your life is not complicated but you can make it as complicated and as hard as you want. Success requires hard work, perseverance, clarity and focus. If you look at any successful person those elements will feature somewhere in their journey to having a successful life.
To aspire to be successful in your life you have to know what a successful life means for you. Success comes from the way you act, the way you think, your attitude toward life – success is a habit and you work on it everyday of your life. If you don’t know what success means to you then it is really hard to start the journey.
Knowing what you want and setting out a plan with practical goals increases your chances of success. The plan gives you the clarity and focus you need to start the journey – without a plan and not knowing what you want, you will never begin the journey.
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”
9. You have a limiting belief that to be successful you have to pay a price at the expense of others.
This belief has come about as a result of society promoting that to be successful, you have to be tough and prepared to make sacrifices. It is people that will pay a price for your success – mainly because successful people will do what ever it takes to get what they want. This is rubbish and if you believe this to be true then you will not experiences the great joy and happiness success can bring to your life.
Your success in life is not determined by how many people you have to step over or push aside to get what you want. You, your actions, your thoughts and how well you serve others are what contribute to you having success in your life.
10. The fear of failing and making mistakes is a huge block to you making the changes you need to make in your life.
For me, clinging on to this bad habit stopped me from making the changes I needed to make for me to be happy and have a successful life doing what I love to do – writing, speaking and coaching. If you want to be happy and successful you are going to have to accept that failures are necessary on the path to success. It is a given.
I recently read a great book by Tim Harford called Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure.
This book gave me great tools and strategies to effectively manage my fear of failure. Tim Hartford talks about the wrong way we react to failure and that our egos take control and as a result we try to “bury the failure – not a good thing. He suggests that we should adapt the way we think and react to failure by adopting a “trial and error approach”. What this means is that we cant really predict how things are going to turn out and so we test it, adapt and adjust along the way. Failure according to Tim is the opportunity we need to figure out how we can succeed.
If you desire success in your life, you have to be prepared to change. The first step to change, is for you to face those “bad habits” that prevent you from achieving the success and happiness you desire in your life. Once you have overcome your bad habits, you will be unstoppable, and your life will be full of happiness and success.
“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
Last Updated on August 7, 2018
14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have
Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.
Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.
Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).
It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.
As we delve into the list of effective leadership traits, you will learn the behaviors and attitudes of a good leader.
Table of Contents
The 14 most important leadership traits
Please read through the list of leadership qualities carefully. Take note of which of the traits you excel at – and which ones you need to work at.
Traits for better self-development
1. Vision and mission
Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.
This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:
How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.
It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.
Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.
One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.
3. Optimism and positivity
Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.
Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.
Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Find out more about the habits of positive people here.
4. Emotional stability
In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.
If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Here’re some effective ways to control your emotions.
Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.
It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.
Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be.
If you look for more ways to boost your self-confidence, this confidence coach has got you some nice advice:
Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.
Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.
Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material.
I know it’s really quite difficult to make the right decisions sometimes, but don’t worry, here’s a guide for you:
7. Passion and enthusiasm
Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.
Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.
Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:
One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.
Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.
8. Accountability and responsibility
Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.
When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.
To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.
Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.
Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.
One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.
If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.
Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.
Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here:
Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.
It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.
Traits for effective communication
The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).
Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.
One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.
12. Persuasive and influential
Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.
Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.
There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:
How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.
If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.
Traits for ensuring an engaging team
13. Team building
If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.
If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:
Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.
The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.
14. Fostering creativity
Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.
Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.
Leadership is a journey of continuous learning
Leadership is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.
Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those.
It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.
Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com