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.

How To Build Long-Lasting Trust As A Busy Leader

Trust word of wooden elements

Too often, as leaders, we focus on what our team members are doing wrong. We complain about their lack of skills. We scoff at their seemingly minimal effort. We assume they aren’t cut out for the job. We start looking for ways to replace them with the next person.  

Any leader needs to have team members who are making the right choices and being proactive. Instead of assuming all things that go wrong are your team’s fault, turn around and look at yourself in the mirror. There is a good chance that your team’s negative or lack of proactive choices is your fault. This often stems from a weak relationship caused by a lack of trust.

The second principle in Building the Best is: 

Without Strong Relationships, You Can’t Lead 

It Starts With Trust

The people you lead, work to provide for their families, achieve things, and do work that matters. They have to believe in, and most importantly, trust you as their leader. This trust comes from the knowledge that you are competent and that you care. 

The ability to lead a team starts with good, quality, professional relationships built on the bond of mutual trust. As a leader, you must consistently share your competence, care, and character to earn trust. The keyword here is consistency. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn and partner at Greylock, came up with my favorite formula for easily understanding trust. 

Consistency + Time = Trust

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. Trust is the foundation of every relationship, personally or professionally, and just as Hoffman’s formula states; it’s built through consistency over time.  

Here is the problem; today’s remote work environment makes it harder to build and maintain strong relationships. The reason being the amount of time we have available to build relationships is contracted by the speed at which business is moving.  

If you find yourself leading a remote team and having the majority of your day blocked with Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, try these trust-building techniques to help to build the bond of mutual trust with your team:

Keep a “PeopleDoc” 

In our research at LearnLoft, most managers have eight direct reports. This means, at a minimum, each manager should have eight one-on-one scheduled meetings a week. These meetings not only allow leaders to help an individual perform better, but it also allows them to learn about each person and their unique situation.  

These life details should be kept in what I call a “PeopleDoc.” This is a live working document for you to write down all of the information on each team member, such as:

  • Work anniversary
  • Birthday
  • Significant other’s name, kid(s) names and ages
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Long-term career aspirations
  • Hobbies and interests outside of work

While some might call the “PeopleDoc” elementary, these six details about each person just scratch the surface about what you should know about a team member. Multiply this by the total number of members on your team, and you have a lot of data to remember. Use a “PeopleDoc” to help and even remind you to write a thank you note on their work anniversary or send a gift card on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. 

Reject Micromanaging, Embrace “Macromanage”

Since so many managers are still leading a remote team and will continue to for an extended period of time, it’s easy to get out of the habit of micromanaging. If you are going to build bonds of mutual trust, you have to reject even the slightest desire to micromanage and instead embrace “Macromanage.”

Adam Grant presented this idea on a LinkedIn


When you take the time to notice the extra effort and the impact a person’s contribution has on the broader mission, it shows the person and the entire team you care enough to recognize it.  

Reject Your Natural Instincts

One of the most popular reasons LearnLoft partners with Human Resource Leaders is to them help turn around an underperforming manager or group of managers. While in a coaching session with a particular manager who was struggling, it became evident that he had much stronger, trust-based relationships with the men on his team over the women.  

As we unpacked the reasons, we found he gravitated towards the men because they looked like him, behaved like him, and had the same interests outside of work as him. The women on the team were in roles he had little to no firsthand experience. They certainly didn’t talk like him or think like him. Through multiple coaching sessions, he came to the self-realization that he had been playing favorites and putting in more effort with the men on his team over the women.  

If you want better trust-filled relationships, look beyond commonalities.

What I know now from working with thousands of leaders is that this man is not an anomaly. All leaders are challenged with overcoming different biases in order to have better trust-filled relationships. However, our natural instincts are to gravitate toward and trust people who look, act, or behave like us.  

No one says you have to be best friends with every member of your team to have a strong bond of mutual trust. The key is for you to knowingly reject your natural instinct and instead give everyone the time, attention, and energy they deserve.  


Of course, building trust as a busy leader goes beyond these techniques. I could write for days about the importance of being present in every interaction, showing genuine care for each team member, or knowing your team’s time is as important as yours. The key here is that you can’t effectively lead without trust, and being busy isn’t an excuse.  

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping improve the performance of struggling managers. 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 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.

4 Timeless Things a Leader Can Do to Improve Immediately

Unfortunately, we have a lot of bad frontline leaders in our organizations and it comes at a tremendous cost. Here are 4 timeless things a leader can do to improve immediately.

  1. Remember the Purpose of Leadership – Leadership is about serving and empowering other people.
  2. Build Relationships Based on Trust – Trust is the ultimate human currency
  3. Envision a Better Future – Team members need a vision of a better state in the future
  4. Define Clear Standards – A Standard is ‘defining what good looks like’

Learn how LearnLoft can help your organization here.

How Beliefs Impact Company Culture

When a team’s beliefs and behaviors come into alignment the culture improves. LearnLoft has 4 key beliefs and they go by S.O.F.T.  S stands for speed, O stands for openness, F stands for fun, and T stands for Trust.

Trust is the ultimate human currency so without trust we don’t have influence and without influence leaders cannot lead.

What are your organizational  beliefs?  Let us know in the comments section.

Want to learn more about High Performance Leadership for your organization learn more here.