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.

Want to be a Great Leader? Learn from World Champion Coaches

Everyone loves to study and emulate successful leaders who have demonstrated the ability to win in their respective field. We particularly love picking up knowledge from leaders in the world of sports. Their expertise in coaching, leading people and running a team can easily be translated into business tactics.

Alan Stein Jr. shared this on the Follow My Lead Podcast as to why sports and business go so well together: “Both require similar things in order to be successful; building habits and doing thing during unseen hours, effective leadership, and ‘we’ people instead of ‘me’ people.”

One of the best parts of following sports leaders is every year there are new stories and victors to learn from and emulate. Here are seven leadership lessons from Bill Belichick and six other coaches who won championships in 2017:

1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots)

Belichick and his Patriots team capped off a miraculous comeback over the Atlanta Falcons in the second half to win his fifth Lombardi trophy and cement his status as one of the most the elite coaches of all time.

Known for his hard-nosed and buttoned-up leadership style, Belichick rarely gives one on one interviews. But in a sit down with Suzy Welch he shared this:

“Leadership means building a team that is exhaustively prepared, but being able to adjust in an instant.” He went on to say, “The only sign we have in the locker room is from the Art of War, ‘every battle is won before it’s faught'”

Key Takeaway: Preparation is critical for success; but, in today’s fast paced world, pivoting will be required and it’s only possible with great teamwork.

2. Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors)

Kerr’s team battled the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, and beat them four games to one in this year’s NBA finals. Not only did he win his second NBA championship as a coach, but he also holds the highest winning percentage in NBA history.

His leadership style is one of a true servant leader. After this year’s title he tried to avoid the microphone in order to give his players the chance to be in the spotlight. When he he did finally speak, he used all of his time to give praise to his other coaches, players, and team ownership. Kerr knows he is just a spoke in the wheel, and it’s his job to push those around him to levels of which they didn’t even know they were capable.

Key Takeaway: It’s not about the leader, it’s about the team.

3. Joe Madden (Chicago Cubs)

Madden and his Cubs broke a 108 year world championship drought when they defeated the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the last year’s World Series.

His leadership style is known for being quirky and unique, but there are great lessons to learn from Madden. His team didn’t shy away from the expectations of them from the beginning of the season. They used terms like “Embrace the target” (world champions) and “Try not to suck.”

Key takeaway: Don’t shy away from high expectations, embrace them.

4. Dabo Swinney (Clemson Tigers)

Swinney and his Clemson Tigers team won the school’s first football national Championship since 1981, defeating the mighty Nick Saban led Alabama Crimson Tide in one of the greatest football games ever.

His leadership style is one filled with purpose and positivity. He embodies the idea of a Welder leader by consistently leveraging both love and discipline at extremely high levels. In his post game interview right after winning the championship he said, “I told our players, the difference in this game was going to be love (for each other).”

Key Takeaway: Serve your people’s hearts and not their talents.

5. Mike Sullivan (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Sullivan and his Pittsburgh Penguins successfully defended their Stanley Cup by defeating the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of this years finals.

His leadership style is one of great intensity and focus. He relies heavily on his staff and the players on the team to be leaders themselves. After a big win in the playoffs Sullivan said, “I think when we have focus–short-sighted focus on the task at hand, and we don’t get ahead of ourselves or we don’t dwell on what happen in the past–that’s when you have the best ability to reset that mindset, it always falls back to the leadership of the group.”

Key takeaway: If you are the only leader on your team you have no chance.

6. Dawn Staley (South Carolina Gamecocks)

Staley and her South Carolina Gamecocks won their first national basketball title by defeating Mississippi State in dominating fashion.

Staley was a Hall of Fame player before she became a coach. She knows how important the connection with people is to the success of any leader. She lives by two mottos: ‘a disciplined person can do anything’ and ‘dare tocubs do what you don’t want to do to get what you want.’ In a recent article from players tribune she said this about the secret to leadership: “If there were ever a secret to being a great coach, that’s it: the connection.”

Key takeaway: You are nothing as a leader without healthy relationships.

7. Roy WIlliams (North Carolina Tarheels)

Williams is a basketball coaching legend. Having gone to six national title games and winning his third last year in dramatic fashion against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, his name is synonymous with success on the court.

Williams is also known for being an elite recruiter, which is why he has been in the postseason every year of his head coaching career outside of his first. Williams plays to his strength and spends a lot of time recruiting, but he doesn’t for a second underestimate the importance of character. He wrote, “Too many coaches lower their program’s standards and take talented players with questionable or poor character.”

Key Takeaway: Character matters and it always will.

This article originally appeared on Inc.com

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and host of the Follow My LeadPodcast. He is also the author of F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader, and is passionate about the development of modern professionals. You can find him on instagram @johngeades.