7 Simple Ways to be a Smarter and Better Leader

Being a leader that gets results and elevates others is difficult. Even with an endless stream of leadership tips and tricks on the internet, it’s easy to lose sight of the main things being the main things. 

The goal of this column is to recenter and refocus your efforts so you can get results without going to get an MBA in Leadership Development. Leadership refresher in session: 

1. Increase Trust with Team Members

The ability to lead a team starts with good, quality, professional relationships built on the bond of mutual trust. George MacDonald said, “to be trusted is a great compliment than being loved.” The difference between managers and leaders isn’t always what they say. Instead, it’s how their actions and behavior build a bond of mutual trust.  

In Building the Best, I highlighted the Trust Compound Theory. This states that each team member evaluates how much they trust you based on how you share your competence, show you care, and expose your character. 

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2. Bring Contagious Energy Daily

Traditional thinking says energy comes from results. While this isn’t wrong, energy ultimately comes from people. For example, one person can completely change the energy on a team or in a room.

John Wooden famously said, “nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm. Our energy is infectious, whether it’s lethargic or enthusiastic is a choice we make each day.”

This means the energy you bring as a leader can be positive, negative, or neutral. Check out the video below


3. Play Big, Not Small

People tend to stay in spaces and environments that are comfortable. Thanks to the Amygdala, our brains are naturally wired to avoid risk and harm. Because of this, most leaders play small instead of big. Jim Rohn said, “Most people major in minor things.”

I have learned from coaching leaders that bad leaders set goals that are easy to achieve, and instead of raising the standards, they lower them.  

Bad leaders set goals that are easy to achieve, and instead of raising the standards, they lower them.

4. Think Long, Act Short

Our eyes are designed to look ahead and focus on what’s right in front of us. While this isn’t necessarily bad, Dr. Myles Monroe expressed the issue with our eyes as it related to leadership: “The enemy of vision is sight.” he continued, “vision is the capacity to see beyond what your eyes can see.”

If you are going to transform your leadership, it requires having a vision of a better world that exists today while at the same time acting on what’s right in front of you to help get you there. 

Great leaders have a vision of a better world that exists today.

Everything big starts small. Once you have that big vision, act small by having a defined set of priorities and accomplishing a finite set of tasks daily. 

5. Randomize Leadership Responsibilities

Research has proven time and time again that player-led teams outperform leader-led teams. Since the purpose of leadership is not to create more followers but to create more leaders, one of the most effective ways to transform your leadership is to randomize leadership responsibilities on your team.  

Steve Kerr, the NBA World Championship Coach of the Golden State Warriors, made this approach famous when he insisted his team would handle coaching duties in an NBA game in 2018 (the team won 123-89.)  

While Kerr’s approach might not work in your particular leadership salutation, here are a few ideas: 

  • Instead of you running your team meeting, have someone else run it.  
  • Instead of coaching team members, have team members pair up and coach each other.  
  • Start a virtual meeting and disconnect on purpose to see who carries the ball forward in your absence. 

6. Know The Numbers, Know The Effort

It is astonishing how many people in leadership positions don’t know how their team performs. When pressed in coaching sessions, I hear answers like, “I think we are doing well.” It’s true, some roles, like a sales manager, have an easier path to measurable metrics, every leader must know how their team is performing. 

Every leader must know how their team performs against measurable metrics. 

However, you can’t stop knowing the numbers because leadership is not all about winning. The late Pat Summit said, “Winning is fun…sure. But winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point. Never letting up is the point. Never being satisfied with what you have done is the point.”  

You must know the effort your team is putting in because if you only care about the results, you miss the point of leadership.  

7. Repeat the Values and Purpose Often

If you lead a team or organization, do not go another minute without being clear on why you do what you do and its purpose. As I wrote in Building the Best, “It’s easy for people to get lost in the monotony of their everyday work without considering how their work positively impacts other people.” 

Part of your job as a leader is to stop people from going through the motions and help them to start growing through the motions:  

Stop going through the motions and start growing through the motions. 

One of the best ways to do this is to be what Pat Lencioni calls a CRO, “Chief Repetition Officer.” Constantly remind your team of the core values that guide their behavior and the deeper purpose behind their work. Purpose-driven leaders will not only be more successful long-term than those who aren’t; it’s a requirement in today’s leadership landscape. 


Being a leader that gets results and elevates others is difficult. However, if it were easy, everyone would do it. You are just the kind of leader to remake your leadership.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

What Bad Managers Consistently Get Wrong About Leadership


If you are like most people, you don’t often think about bad leaders unless you had or currently have one. However, studying or experiencing them can be a more effective teacher than learning from some great ones.  

Take former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling as an example. His management and leadership style was built on the foundation of fear. He used practices for performance reviews that eventually became known as “rank and yank.” This method required 15 percent of Enron’s employees to receive the lowest score, regardless of their actual performance. Those employees were given two weeks to find another job within Enron or be terminated.

Skilling believed this unorthodox process was one of the most important in the company because he thought people were only motivated by two things: money and fear. (This isn’t true, read more about motivation here) He carried this belief into his personal life, creating the same kind of disastrous effect that imploded his company. Skilling didn’t realize his leadership style caused his failure at work and home, but luckily we get to learn from it.

However, bad leaders aren’t going to give up or admit their shortcomings easily because they want the power and title, but they don’t want to do the work associated with becoming a leader. As Austin Kleon said, “Lots of people want to be the noun, without doing the verb.” Think of it in leadership terms this way, 

Most managers want the title without acting like a leader.

I have been fortunate to coach managers who mold themselves into leaders because of self-reflection and hard work. People can change for the better, especially if they want it enough.

Having said that, if you are working for a lousy leader and they aren’t actively trying to change and get better, I want you to find freedom in what you are about to read. 

You are never going to do enough for a bad boss.  

There will be times in a relationship with a bad boss where it’s bearable or borderline pleasant. But eventually, their judgment attitude, lack of coaching, and egotism catch up, causing you to not be good enough for them.  

How to Know If a Manager Isn’t Leading

The last thing we need is another article about the differences between management and leadership. So here are three of the most common things managers do to ruin their leadership development. 

 1. They only care about results.

Let’s go ahead and get this on the table; results matter. Not only are they a good barometer for financial performance, but without them, no one will have a job. But there is also a stark difference between what managers evaluate and what leaders consider. 

Take the legendary coach John Wooden as an example. He won 10 National Championships in a 12-year span, and he never mentioned the word “win” to his players at any time. The reason is, he knew the minute his words solely focused on the final results was the minute his team wasn’t focused on the behaviors and habits required to attain the result.

He understood this critical leadership lesson:

Great leaders elevate standards to create positive results over time. 

You can learn more about “elevating standards” in this short video from a workshop helping managers to lead their best. 

2. They can’t stop thinking about themselves.

Every one of us wakes up thinking about ourselves. The last time you looked at a group picture, what did you look at first? I guarantee you scanned the image to look for yourself. We all do it. Selfishness is a battle we face whether we like it or not.  

Here’s where the challenge lies: leadership is all about other people. In Building the Best, I define a leader as “someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.” 

Managers who refuse to think about others can’t become influential leaders because they can’t elevate others. If you struggle to put others’ needs ahead of your own, try the PTS method. Anytime you change environments, say to yourself, “prepare to serve.” It will help reset your mindset from serving yourself to serving other people.  

3. They think they’re a leader, well before they are.

My company, LearnLoft, has spent years studying what the best and most effective leaders do and codified it to help new managers make the leap. Through this work, we have also seen the other side of the coin. Managers who think they are effective leaders but their people tell a much different story.

It’s most common in Executives because they have risen to positions of power and prestige, so in their mind, it doesn’t make sense to do things differently. Managers who make the most significant strides in their leadership development are humble enough to admit they don’t have all the answers and are a constant work in progress. 

Managers who make the most significant strides in their leadership development are humble enough to admit they don’t have all the answers. 


Leadership is a journey and not a destination. Whether you have experienced a bad leader like Jeff Skilling or not, everyone is susceptible to falling into the path of becoming a bad leader. Keep studying, testing, and working to become the leader you were meant to be.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades

The Marks of a True Leader

“True Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

On one hand its such a simple quote. On the other hand their isn’t a leader in the world that would say they have mastered it.  Behind this leadership quote is a lifetime of experience, effort, successes and failures. Many of us have falsely believed that the more followers we have, the more influential of a leader we become.  Unfortunately this type of approach doesn’t result in creating more leaders. So how do true leaders create more leaders? What does it take to help another person develop into a better, more educated, more well rounded version than yourself?

A small ego

I wrote about ego a couple weeks ago. Ego is defined as our self-centered, self-serving ambition. The desire to be more than, to be recognized for, or to be elevated above others.  It is literally impossible to help create more leaders if you are only concerned with your own self-serving ambition and have the need to be elevated above others.  Unfortunately, many of the praised leaders in modern times like Steve Jobs have been put on a pedestal for this type of approach.  The result: more young professionals with the mindset that leading is mostly about them and creating people underneath them that must fall in line.

An open-mind

A leader’s mind can be their greatest asset or biggest weakness.  David Ossip, the CEO of Ceridian who was highlighted in great piece in Forbes said, “If you have an organization that can’t change, it will become extinct.”

Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, Duke basketball coach is known as one of the best basketball coaches of all time. But what many may not know is over 20 of his former players and assistant coaches are now head coaches at colleges or in the professional ranks. If Coach K had a closed mind and kept all the talent to himself, he would have reached a much smaller number of people. Instead he created more leaders, and now his influence, values, and beliefs spread to 20+ programs and thousands of other people.

A humble heart

John Wooden said “Talent is god-given. Be humble. Fame is man given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be Careful”.  Without humility and being grounded in a leader’s heart, they have little to no chance to allow others to visually see it, feel it, and want to emulate it themselves.  I like to think of it as, if leaders aren’t humble what are they?

A purpose worth striving for

In next week’s episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Dee Ann Turner taught me a lot about how critical the purpose of Chick-Fil-A’s business was and is to it’s success. Their purpose has remained the same for 40 years, “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” Want to know why Chick-Fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, created more leaders not more followers with this purpose?

“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”  – Truett Cathy.  

Having a strong purpose for existing is one of the clearest and simplest ways to create more leaders in your organization. LearnLoft’s purpose is to “Teach modern professionals how to add value to their organization and the world.” What is yours?

A confidence that more talent is right around the corner

“I have observed that those who have accomplished the greatest results are those who, keep it under the body; are those who never grow excited or lose self-control, but are always calm, self possessed, patient, and polite.” – Booker T Washington. It would be impossible for leaders to stay calm under pressure, and exemplify what Booker T Washington describes if they don’t have confidence that more talent is right around the corner.  One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is holding people back for fear that they will never find someone as talented.

All these marks reference someone who is a living example of what professional relationships should be all about – helping others become the best version of themselves. When you do, you leave a legacy and  and your impact will live on well past your time in at an organization or in a bigger picture your time on this earth.

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