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10 Ways to Be a Better Leader

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, raising a person’s performance to a higher standard, and building a personality beyond its usual limitations. - Peter F. Drucker

1. Ask to be judged

Finding out what others think of your leadership skills can help you change for the better. Sometimes leaders can be so wrapped up in appraising others that they do not seek an appraisal from below, only from their superiors. Your team is the best source of feedback because they are on the receiving end of your “skills” daily. Honesty should be encouraged but remember that it may only be anonymous feedback that holds the truth if your team believes you will use it against them or become defensive about what they say. This should not be a problem if you have created a trusting and open environment.

2. Do not abuse your power

Suppose people question why certain things are done or the logic of decisions, never pull rank in response. Your team should feel empowered, if only by you taking the time to explain the rationale for any decisions that have been made. Your team must be on your side. This will not happen by you tell them that the decision is the right one because you are the boss. Your team may not agree, but they should know why a situation is how it is.

3. Your team is intelligent and can be trusted

Your team should be allowed to act and make decisions. Trust is a vital part of leadership skills. If you cannot trust people to do their jobs, you have the wrong people or are not managing them properly. Let them do what they are there to do without peering over their shoulders every fifteen minutes, asking what they are doing with their time.

4. Listen

Genuinely listening to your team is one of the most excellent leadership skills. Good listeners are genuinely interested, empathetic, and concerned about discovering what is happening. All great leaders have excellent communication skills.

Unhappy team members can only exist where their problems have not been aired. Create an environment where issues can be discussed so that solutions can be found.

5. Stop being an expert on everything

Leaders often achieve their positions by being proficient in a particular area and, thus, will have an opinion on how to fix problems. They believe it is better to tell someone what to do or do it themselves than allow their team to develop their solutions and exercise their creativity.

6. Be constructive

Negativity breeds negativity. How you communicate profoundly affects your team, as a whole and individually. Leaders will always need to make criticisms but try to make them constructive and deliver them without emotional attachment.

7. Judge your success by your team’s

The true success of a leader can be measured by the success of the people who work for them. You cannot be a successful leader of a failing team, just as you cannot be a victorious general of a defeated army. Your focus should always be on building your team’s skills and removing obstacles in their way.

8. Do not be a narcissist

Nothing is more annoying for team members than leaders who make the decisions based on how good they will make them appear to their superiors. Critical leadership skill is integrity. Integrity is about doing the right thing and allowing praise where praise is due, even if that is not at your door.

9. Have a sense of humor

People work better when they are enjoying themselves. The work may be dull, but the environment does not have to be. Stifling fun also means stifling creativity. Team members love it when the leader joins in and has fun. This does not have to create a flippant atmosphere; on the contrary, this is a tenet of team building.

10. Do not be too distant

Without revealing your innermost secrets, leaders can show a more human side. If mutual respect exists, this should not be seen as vulnerability, a sign that you are a sentient human, just as your team members are. Only when your team gets to know the real will you have the proper foundations of good leadership appropriately set up – trust and respect.


In The Art of War in the five-century BC, Sun Tzu said: “What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men is foreknowledge .”

This is an as-yet-unmentioned attribute of a great leader – the ability to predict. No matter how managerial and people skills the business leader has, they will all be jeopardized if they cannot expect the effects of the plans they put in place and their actions. In this respect, it may be that their age and experience must take precedence over consultation with the “troops,” who may little understand the ramifications of what is about to take place.

This is where the genuine leader comes to the fore and claims their title. When all around are scratching their heads and reluctant to decide, old-style leadership must come into play. The modern leader may fail in this scenario for lack of guts and an over-familiarity with their team.

Sun Tzu says: “Some leaders are generous but cannot use their men. They love their men but cannot command them… These leaders create spoiled children. Their soldiers are useless.”

Leadership may have become a different beast over the years, but it is still, at its heart, about leading .

Leadership – Becoming a Better Leader

With this book's help, you can also become a great leader. By following the leadership principles, you will be respected for your fairness, skills, and ability to lead people in a humane but necessary way to achieve greatness with your team.

Leading people can be one of the most rewarding things you have ever done if you do it right. Do it wrong; leadership can quickly become a nightmare you hope to wake up from sooner than later.

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