Why You Should Be a Leader Even Though It’s Hard

Top view on plastic fork and spoons on black background

Do you remember how it felt the last time you were forced to let someone go? Chances are, you felt terrible and didn’t sleep well for days.  

While these feelings make you an empathetic leader with a good heart, they could unfortunately cause you to run away from leadership before you reach peak impact.

Take Jessica, an exceptional regional manager in a fast-growth company, for example. For years she embraced her role and poured into the people she had the opportunity to lead.  While she was far from perfect, her growth and development as a leader are one that any young leader would want to mimic.

Everything was going well until she and her new boss couldn’t find common ground and Covid-19 hit the business.  At first, Jessica hung in there.  She worked hard to build a stronger relationship with her new manager, and did all she could to shelter her team from the growing dissension.  But Covid-19 added pressure she didn’t feel she could handle.  Reluctantly, she asked for a demotion; moving from her leadership position back to an individual contributor role.  

While the move made logical sense, it was unfortunate for the people who grew so much under her leadership. 

Leadership is hard

There is no denying that leadership is hard.  The pressure of performance, making tough decisions, and guiding other people are just a few of the obstacles that leaders will come across. But the hardest part of leadership is this:

Leaders are required to take full responsibility for things they have little control over.

Most people avoid leadership, not because they can’t develop the skills to lead, but because it’s easier to stand outside the fire. Those that do embrace leadership in their career or in their families, often fail.  But the best leaders don’t give up because they know failure isn’t final; failure is feedback. 

If you have chosen to be a leader, now isn’t the time to give up. Your people need you more than ever. If you find yourself at a breaking point like Marie, and you don’t want to give up, here’s what you can do.

Focus on Your #1 Job as Leader

I know you think your job is to execute the tasks and devise a strategy for your team. While you absolutely have to do those requirements well, your primary role of being in a position of leadership is to elevate others.  

I define leadership in Building the Best as “someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve others to produce an improved state over an extended period of time.”

But simply knowing this definition isn’t enough — the real difference lies in living it out, because actions speak louder than words. I have yet to encounter a strong leader who isn’t keenly aware of how important their actions are, as far as setting an example to the people they lead. Many are borderline fanatical about the decisions they make, and the positions they put themselves in.

Lead Right Where You Are

When leaders start to feel overwhelmed, it’s because he or she is doing too much.  They have loaded their schedule and responsibilities with so many things they can’t keep up with all of it.  

Instead of trying to boil the ocean or solve every problem, make your leadership circle of influence smaller.  When a good leader is stuck inside an unhealthy company culture they can’t fix the entire company as one person. Instead, they start with changing the environment for their own team to make it the best it can be. 

Reconnect Yourself to the Cause

It’s easy for leaders to get lost in the monotony of their everyday work, failing to consider how the work impacts people at a deeper level.  Tony Robbins famously said, “activity without purpose is the drain of your life.”  

Having a deeper purpose and cause behind your work can be tough for some leaders.  If this is an area where you struggle, remember that leadership has a built-in cause; serving other people.  Speaker and author Damon West, told me on a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, “Every one of us has the ability to be a servant leader.”

Ponder the Positives (regardless of how small)

While work can and absolutely should be a place that helps create positive energy for people, it is easy to lose sight of that during difficult times. A powerful, evidence-based line of research called Positive Psychology, shows why pondering the positives instead of the negatives is a good idea.  

Chris Peterson described Positive Psychology this way; “Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. It’s a focus on what’s right with us rather than what’s wrong.” Jon Gordon, followed that up, “being positive won’t guarantee you’ll succeed. But being negative will guarantee you won’t.”

Choosing to be positive and looking for the good in things regardless of how small, is a competitive advantage and in your realm of control.  

Closing

If you have been forced to let someone go or your team has been negatively impacted by Covid-19, don’t give up. Your leadership is needed more than ever.

Take the Free Leadership Style Quiz? Join over 40k leaders and discover your current leadership style for free.

Download the Leading Remote Teams Toolkit for Here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making victual training easy and effective. 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 Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Want to Be a Leader in the Future? Use This Time Wisely.

Stopwatch Clock Time Countdown Graphic Words

Right now, you’re stuck in time like no one has ever seen.

It is not news that we are currently living in a world of unprecedented challenges; one that is seemingly stuck at a point in time that most people want to get past. At best, we can work from our homes; at worst we are no longer employed or have a job that requires us to put ourselves in grave danger. 

Regardless of how the unexpected turn of events from the Coronavirus has impacted you or your career, it has most likely brought on feelings of hopelessness or doubt about the future. It’s an essential time to remember the wise words from Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning; “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

We don’t control the events; we control our response. 

Instead of giving in to the feelings of desperation and focusing on the monotony of these days on end, open your eyes to the opportunities that this pandemic may lend us. The best leaders use this time, to be successful in the future. It’s what I have started to refer to as “Grind Time.” Here are some ways the best leaders are using their grind time and so can you.

Reinvest in relationships

Relationships with other people are the lifeblood of our life on earth. Research shows that good relationships help people live longer. People in healthy long term relationships are 50% less likely to die earlier. For any relationship to add a lot of value to your life, career (yours or others’) it requires the investment of time.  

Scott Miller reminded me during an interview that, “relationship building requires an effectiveness, not an efficiency mindset.” In the last few weeks, this has come to life during hour-long family walks without my phone. I have been amazed at how effective this has been for my relationship with my wife and kids. The results of being fully present will improve the quality of your relationships to a degree that will shock you.

If you are leading a team at work, your people will absolutely remember how you made them feel in times of crisis. They will remember how much you cared about them and the time you gave them. 

Develop your skills

Your skills and your ability to perform them at high levels are at the center of performance. Webster defines a skill as; the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance. Clearly, there is a difference in acquiring knowledge and acquiring skills.

For example, you could know how to read music, but be unable to translate that knowledge into playing an instrument. You could understand the proper mechanics in hitting a golf ball, but your score after your very first round of golf might not reflect that.  

Now is the time to develop your skills. Tom Bilyeu said it so well during an interview with Patrick Bet-David on Valuetainment, “Money only monetizes once, but your skills can be monetized over and over and over.”

But don’t stop at developing your skills during this time. Help others develop their skills as well. Focus not only on the technical skills but, most importantly on leadership skills that are crucial for team members—things such as positivity, emotional intelligence, communication, and growth mindset.  

Focus attention on innovation

Innovation starts with the mindset of the leader. Innovation is defined as a new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in the form of device or method. I summarize it as “finding better solutions.” 

During a recent episode of the Pessimist Archive Podcast, host Jason Feifer mentioned that, “big companies are designed to be good at themselves. It stops inventing and starts refining. When the world begins to change, they end up defending the turn.” 

The best leaders are using the current decline or increase in available time to find better answers to problems, or seeking new and better ways of doing something. They aren’t limiting it to themselves; they are inspiring innovation with their people. One of the leaders I studied for Building the Best is having a “weekly innovation meeting” with his team over Zoom. During this time the team members brainstorm ideas for improving their processes, procedures, and offerings to clients.  

The ideas are not all good, but he has been amazed at the problems and improvements his team has come up with to help the company’s future.  

Closing

You have the power to change the course of your days from one of monotony and tedium to one of opportunity and development. Now is the time when you grind; reinvest in your relationships, focus on innovation, and develop your skills. Today is when you get to start anew.  

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover your current leadership style for free.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. 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 and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

4 Habits Great Leaders Adopt During Uncertain Times

Abstract creative background with light bulb

It’s not raw, natural talent or innate skill that makes up the difference between an average manager and an effective leader.

Instead, it’s something anyone can do, but most find it difficult to master. The best separate themselves by changing basic habits. A habit is simply a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. When studying what the best leaders do for Building the Best, I found a pattern leaders leverage to get consistently high results from themselves and their people.  

The pattern is called The Route to Results: High standards produce behaviors. Those behaviors, when practices repeatedly, become a habit, and those habits lead to results.  

No alt text provided for this image

The Route to Results turns conscious behaviors into unconscious habits. 

“Successful people aren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit that unsuccessful people don’t like to do” – William Thackeray, British Novelist  

If you want to become a better leader during this Pandemic, focus on adding these daily behaviors to your routine, and eventually, they’ll become habits.

1. Own your morning, elevate your life.

Benjamin Franklin had the morning routine figured out. He called the time from 5 AM to 7 AM “powerful goodness.” This time was spent ordering the priorities of the day, as well as writing, reading, and praying. Additionally, Franklin always took the opportunity to answer one critical question, “What good will I do today?”

During an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Robin Sharma provided simple yet powerful advice from his book, the 5 AM Club, “Own your morning, elevate your life.”  

Instead of sleeping in, jumping into the current news cycle, email, or thinking about the current hardships, now is the time to own your morning and elevate your life. This has a direct effect on the kind of leader you are going to be each day. You will immediately assume a reactive and problem-solving mode, which causes you to stray from getting the most important things done each day. 

While a successful morning routine varies from person to person, it can include exercising, praying, meditating, writing, reading, or prioritizing the most critical work for you and your team.

2. A daily text check-in

Every day and every moment matters in the current environment. If your team experiences long periods of silence from you, they will start to fill their mind with fear and doubt. When doubt and fear are heavily present, it’s impossible to perform at your best.  

A daily check-in doesn’t replace your weekly team meeting or your weekly scheduled one-on-one to cover projects or priorities. It’s a short form text message, Slack message, email, or phone call to ask a simple question: “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Your actions during difficult times speak volumes about who you are and will leave lasting impressions. On a recent episode of the Follow My Lead podcast Roderic Yapp said it so well:

“People remember how you made them feel when times are difficult.”

A quick check-in will go a long way with your team. You might not be able to save their job (or your own for that matter), but people will absolutely remember you cared enough to ask this simple question every day. 

3. Read, listen or watch something to grow your leadership skills 

In 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the Bubonic Plague. During that time, Isaac Newton developed calculus AND formulated the notion of gravity as a universal force.  

Newton didn’t settle into fear and inaction. Imagine what you could do! When business slows down, an opportunity arises to put your focus outside of your typical responsibilities. Take advantage of this time to develop your skills and the skills of your people. 

I have written and often speak about Growth20, which is the practice of committing to 20 minutes a day to grow your mind and skills. During a slow down, you might increase it to a Growth60. Instead of binge-watching a mindless Netflix show, watch one that could teach you something. You can also chose to read a book, join the ultimate leadership academy, listen to a podcast, dust off a project you’ve abandoned, attend a free webinar, or help team members develop their skills. 

4. Evaluate your communication through the lens of the 3C’s 

It’s impossible to be a highly effective leader without being a great communicator. While the technology for leaders to effectively communicate with their teams has never been better, it doesn’t guarantee success. 

The best leaders talk about their agenda in a way that speaks to their people’s emotions and aspirations.

The importance of effective communication doesn’t stop at people in positions of leadership. A recent study by LinkedIn of HR recruiters and hiring managers, 94% of respondents said a person with good experience and exceptional communication skills is more likely to be elevated to a position of leadership than someone with more experience but weaker communication skills.

To improve and get better, focus on the 3 C’s of Successful Communication: 

Clear: Do they know what you’re asking them to do? 

Concise: Are you using as few words as possible do deliver your message? “Twitterize” it. 

Conclusive: What good or bad will happen if they do/don’t do what you’re asking them to do? 

No alt text provided for this image

Closing

If you find yourself missing any of these habits, don’t fret. Look at it as a wake-up call for you. Embrace the power of the route to results and start small. Create a standard of behavior and consciously execute it every day until it becomes a subconscious habit.

Free Webinar: Join John for a free webinar: How to Stop Managing and Start Leading Your Remote Team. The live webinar is on Thursday, April 23rd at 12 PM EST.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover your current leadership style for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. 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 and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Why Your Mindset Matters at Work and Life

Pensive woman got the right mindset for business

“Your mindset plays a dramatic role in your success at work and in life.”

In season 24 episode 8, we give you some insight into why your mindset is so important in your work and life.


Are leaders born or made? I highlighted the research done by Leadership Quarterly in Building the Best which exposed leaders aren’t born but instead use a combination of genetics and development.  For many people, this is a major change in thinking, but it’s the only way to think if you are going to get better from a leadership perspective or for that matter, anything.

The development of leadership skills isn’t all about just reading a book or practicing the concepts within it over the rest of your career.  Instead, the most important factor if you want to improve is the brain and how you think. It could be summarized as having a growth mindset. The growth mindset theory was brought to prominence by Carol S. Dweck, a Stanford Psychology professor, and in simple terms, it suggests that “we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and solve problems.” 

Which poses the question, what’s the difference between a growth and a fixed mindset?

Fixed vs. growth mindset

The differences between a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset are stark. At the simplest form, a fixed mindset believes intelligence is static or something you are born with where a growth mindset believes it can be developed.

Mindset fuels company growth as well

In recent years the idea of a growth mindset has been credited with helping Satya Nadella turn around Microsoft. Starting in 2014 when Nadella became CEO, he encouraged the entire company to adopt a growth mindset. They have gone as far as evaluating employees’ performance-based partly on how much they help their colleagues succeed.

While Microsoft is on the cutting edge of using mindset to fuel growth, they aren’t alone. They are a working case study to help other companies adopt a similar approach to compete in today’s business world.

How you can adopt a growth mindset

If you’re ready to adopt a growth mindset for yourself or to pass onto your people, wrap your heart and mind that your mind is never a finished product.  Not only will you deal with failure more effectively but you will be growing in a positive way every day rather than being in neutral or going backward.

We are all born with unique DNA. I started with a different makeup than you did.  It might be easier for me to handle pressure than it is for you because of my DNA. But you can still learn how to handle pressure effectively. You might have been born with better leadership DNA than I did but I can still learn how to be a more effective leader.

Unfortunately, the majority of professionals fall into the category of having a fixed mindset over a growth mindset.  They fall into the trap of believing that talent wins every time and they were either born with the ability to get the job done or they aren’t.  

If you find yourself in this position, focus on a pattern of what behavior when growth happens; it’s what I call AOL, an acronym that stands for action, outcome, learning. 

Conclusion

Take action about things you believe you can’t do. Once you take action there will be an outcome as a result and regardless of the result being positive or negative, you get the opportunity to learn from it. this will allow you grow and get better the next time you take the action.

Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? What have you done to successfully make the leap?

Join the Next Ultimate Leadership Academy If you are ready to elevate the way you lead, join the next virtual Ultimate Leadership Academy.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.  

How to Develop Your Leadership Skills Without Much Time

Everyone claims to be “so busy” these days. The truth is, we make time for what’s important to us. If you want to get in better shape, you make time for it. If you want to be a better golfer, you make time for it. The same is true in leadership. 

Before we go any further, let’s get on the same page about one crucial truth: Leadership skills are developed, not something you are born with. Your development as a leader is paramount because of the impact you will have on other people. There isn’t a better quote to depict this, than from Warren Buffett:

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted the tree a long time ago.

There are many reasons why people don’t commit to growing and developing as a leader:

  • Companies prioritize new products, services, and increasing short-term revenue during company events over the development of their people’s leadership skills 
  • Performance reviews rarely focus on the development of a leader and instead focuses solely on the results from the last year
  • Leaders think they are a finished product and have leadership all figured out

But since you are reading this, I have a sneaky suspicion you aren’t one to make excuses. You want the answer to a simple question, “How do I develop my leadership skills when I don’t have the time?” 

Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

Every day, tell yourself you are good enough and worthy 

The development of any skill centers around confidence. As Helen Keller famously said, “Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Like all personality traits, they are improved through practice and increasing belief.  

The most straightforward way to build confidence is by choosing the words you say to yourself. A leader we studied in Building the Best, doesn’t let the results of the year determine her confidence. Instead, she looks in the mirror every day and reminds herself, “I am good enough, and I am worthy.” This simple practice only takes three seconds but packs an enormous impact.

Watch for leadership lessons in the content you consume

I always find enough time to watch football. While it’s time spent on something I enjoy, I am always on the lookout for leadership lessons.  

A great example of this came from Andy Reid of the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. He was speaking about his quarterback, Patrick Mahomes and how great of a leader he is, “When he (Mahomes) is in that building, it’s all football, it’s all team. He’s never given an ‘It’s about me.’ I’ve never heard that from him. It’s all 100% about the team: ‘How we’re doing, what we can do better, how can I help?’ And then (he) buckles down to get the game plan down. He studies. For young guys out there, what a great example that is about hard work.”

The simple habit of pulling leadership lessons from your favorite shows, movies, or blogs is low hanging fruit in the development of your leadership skills. 

Commit to Growth 20.  

The best leaders start their day with a routine that helps them perform at their best. Certain leaders start at 4 am, while others get going at 8 am. Regardless of what your method is, I know you can commit to 20 minutes a day of development.  

It’s what I refer to as “growth 20.” Twenty minutes a day, reading, listening, or watching something that will help you grow. With the explosion of podcasts, youtube, and platforms like LinkedIn, the options are endless. All you have to do is create a sustainable habit to make it happen. Here are a few ideas:

  • Listen to a book or podcast during your commute
  • Read a chapter of a book before bed instead of watching TV
  • Block 20 minutes on your calendar to read LinkedIn, Thrive Global, or Harvard Business Review  

Meditate on your leadership interactions

One of the best ways to turn knowledge into comprehension is to meditate on the leadership events that happen every day. Because you are in a position of leadership, there are plenty of opportunities to do just this.  

Get in the habit of writing down a few notes about your interactions throughout your day. Think about the things that worked, didn’t work, and what you can do better next time. 

Rehearse critical conversations right before they happen

Far too often, leaders have direct dialogues with team members without rehearsing them. I don’t care how long you have been leading; this is a bad practice. Do you think Tiger Woods goes out to play a tournament without preparing his body and mind beforehand? Not a chance.  

Get out a notepad and write down your shared purpose statement. Beginning with a shared purpose statement puts you both in alignment from the start and helps remove defensive barriers. Then, please write down the evidence or truths (not feelings) you have witnesses that you want to make them aware of to help improve their performance. This simple practice takes all of two or three minutes and drastically improves your odds of being successful.  

If you aren’t doing any of these, pick one that will work for you and commit to it for tomorrow. Start small and get one win. Then do it again the next day.  

Tell me what you think in the comments

Is reading this column one of the ways you sharpen your leadership skills? If so, drop a Yes, in the comments section. What are other ways you develop your leadership skills that I missed?

Get the #1 Best New Management Book to Read by Book Authority: Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead others.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How do you develop your leadership skills?

Start by telling yourself you are worthy and good enough to be a good leader each day. Once you mindset in the proper place, turn your attention to learning from the content you already consume. Then look to apply those in your daily work place.

Why don’t people commit to growing and developing as a leader?

Leaders think they are a finished product and have leadership all figured out.

How do you grow your leadership skills every day?

Commit to “growth 20.” Twenty minutes a day, reading, listening, or watching something that will help you grow. With the explosion of podcasts, youtube, and platforms like LinkedIn, the options are endless. All you have to do is create a sustainable habit to make it happen.

The Unconventional Way Great Leaders Show Their People They Care

We were at the point in the workshop when participants begin feeling uncomfortable. One participant raised his hand and stated, “John, call me a little old school, but I refuse to know my people on a personal level or treat them anything like my family because the day might come when I have to let them go. I don’t want to make it awkward or deal with the feelings of having to let go of someone I care a lot about.”

While on the surface, his logic made sense, he couldn’t have been more wrong. The best leaders build trust with their people. Part of that trust is knowing they are cared for and loved by their boss. Yes, I used the word love, but not in any HR violation kind of way. Love is a component to elevate other people which is critical to be a successful leader today. I define love in Building the Best as “to contribute to someone’s long-term success and well being.”

Don’t just take my word for it. Researchers at the University of Berkley studied what motivates productivity in professionals. When people felt recognized for the work they did, they were 23% more effective and productive. But what’s even more astonishing is that when people felt valued and cared for, their productivity and effectiveness experienced a 43% increase. While recognition is essential, there is an additional 20% jump by in performance by showing your people you care for them. 

How to Show You Care

For your team to understand how much you care about them, you must reject the notion that words hold great power. In this case, talk is cheap. Your power comes from your actions. These actions can come in two fairly obvious forms:   

Make time. Like all great relationships, the only way to build them is by dedicating time. A mentor of mine told me, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” The same is true in showing your team you care about them. While the amount of time can help, it’s not always about the length of time you spend but choosing to be being present during the time together. It could be as simple as a text message between meetings or putting your phone away during lunch together.  

Know Them On a Personal Level. As the participant in my workshop, you might be uncomfortable with this one. The time to get comfortable with it is now. It isn’t complicated, and it also doesn’t mean you have to be friends. Simply ask questions about a person’s journey, experiences, challenges, and career aspirations. When they talk, LISTEN. Recalling the details of your conversations with them proves you listened and care about them. 

Pro Tip: If you have a larger team, create a spreadsheet to record the names of their significant other, hobbies, interests, passions, favorite things, and dreams of the individuals on your team. Keep it updated and handy, so you can be in tune with things going on in their life inside and outside of work. 

The Less Obvious Way to Show You Care

One of my first professional jobs was working for my dad. While those years were rocky, he did something with me constantly that showed how much he cared. He challenged me. 

While his methods for challenging me could be argued, I had little doubt he cared about me because he knew I was capable of more. By challenging me to raise my game, he showed me he cared (even if I didn’t realize that’s what it was at the time.)

Challenging people is so important because it’s human nature to only stretch ourselves to the point where we feel discomfort. Often it takes someone challenging us to go further or reach higher for it to become a reality. 

Here is the key, having solid relationships and a strong bond of mutual trust is critical for you to challenge them in order to get a positive response. Below are a few of my favorite times or places to challenge someone on your team to show you care:

  • Their preparation for a big event or meeting
  • Their effort in developing their skills
  • Their focus during a critical time
  • Their ability to think more creatively and innovatively

If you care about your people, then don’t be afraid to challenge them lovingly. 

What are the best ways you have been challenged, or how to do you challenge your people to show them you care?  

Get the #1 Best New Management Book to Read by Book Authority: Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead others.

Ultimate Leadership Academy: Join the 8-week virtual leadership development academy to elevate the way you lead. Learn more here.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

The Top 3 Leadership Skills You Must Master Right Now

Have you ever wondered what separates average managers from good leaders? It’s not raw, natural talent. No, its something much more straightforward, and the answer lies in two simple words you and everyone else has control over, work and effort.

There is a fundamental truth around leadership from all of my research and interviews that’s important both you and I not only understand but believe in our core. 

You become the leader you construct

Only you have control over your development as a leader, and you have to take ownership of it.

To ensure we are on the same page, we must level set on what I mean by leadership. I define it in Building the Best as: “Inspiring, empowering, and serving in order to elevate others over an extended period of time.”

Leading like this requires the combination of a series of skills working together. The list isn’t short but here are a few of them:

  • Personability
  • Positivity
  • Empathy
  • Trust (relationship-building)
  • Recognition
  • Coaching
  • Listening
  • Vulnerability
  • Accountability
  • Vision
  • Mindset
  • Decisiveness

Many individual skills in leadership are essential for you to develop. But much like the game of golf, some skills are more important than the others. If you are going to go from an average manager to a good leader, these are the ones you need to work on mastering first. 

1.Develop Trust

The ability to lead a team starts with good, quality, professional relationships, built on the bond of mutual trust. All effective leaders consistently share their competence and the care they have for their people in order for trust to grow.  

The simplest and most effective way to understand precisely how trust is built comes from Reid Hoffman: Trust = Consistency + Time

When you break down the simple formula, it makes so much sense. Regardless of how long you have been leading other people, we can all relate to building trust with someone in our lives. Trust is the foundation every relationship is built upon, and it’s created by consistency over time. This means you have to do what you say you are going to do, day in and day out. 

Pro Tip- All leaders are challenged to overcome different biases to have better trust-filled relationships across their team. However, our instinct as human beings is to gravitate toward and trust people who look, act, and behave like us. If you want better trust-filled relationships, look beyond commonalities.  

2. Reward, Recognize and Appreciate

One of the most critical skills for leaders to develop today is giving praise. Praise encompasses rewarding, recognizing, and showing authentic appreciation for people both in what they produce and who they are.  

It’s important to note that appreciation is different from recognition. Recognition is about the results someone produces.

Tom Peters famously said, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Peters is correct, but recognition is based on a person’s performance. (which is essential and you should reward how they do it) Appreciation is much bigger; it’s about who someone is versus what they produce. It means, “recognizing the value of.” 

There was a study done at the University of Berkley about what motivates productivity. What they found was astonishing. When people felt recognized for the work they did, they were 23% more effective and productive versus when they didn’t. But when people felt valued and cared for, they were 43% more productive and effective versus than people who didn’t. That’s a 20% improvement when people know they’re appreciated.  

It’s your job as a leader to master the skills related to praise. Not only when to give it, but how to do it, so it means something to person on the receiving end.

3. Accountability Through Conversations

Many words make most people uncomfortable, and accountability is one of those words. Before understanding exactly what accountability was and why it was so crucial for leaders to understand, I felt the same way. Accountability is the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. The keyword here is an obligation.  

”Great leaders understand it’s their obligation to have uncomfortable conversations.”  

Much like praise, part of your job as a leader is to master the art of having direct dialogues with people that help them improve and motivate them towards movement. A great question to ask yourself, “Do I have a go-to conversation model I know like the back of my hand?”

Next week, I am going to cover the following three most important skills; coaching, listening, and curiosity.

Tell me what you think in the comments

What are the best ways you construct the skills of Relationship Building, Praise, and Accountability in yourself? The best answer receives a free copy of Building the Best.

Elevate the Way You Lead: Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill. It was named the #1 Best New Management Books to Read by Book Authority. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead others.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Leadership Skills FAQ

What are the top three leadership skills?

1. Develop trust
2. Praise and recognition
3. Accountability through conversations

How do you demonstrate leadership skills?

5 Ways to Demonstrate Leadership Skills at Work
1. Your actions will always outweigh your words
2. Schedule regualar one-on-one sessions with your team members
3. Listen to others
4. Be positive and optimistic
4. Hold yourself and others accountable

What defines a leader?

A leader is someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others over an extended period of time.

How can I be a leader?

Focus all of your efforts on elevating others. You have to constantly be looking for ways to help others be successful.