I’m a student of leadership. I am consistently talking to, interviewing, and learning from leaders I believe have been successful — regardless of their vocational field. If they have honorable intentions (which I believe is necessary to be considered successful anyway), then I can learn from them.
I’ve observed a few common habits that successful leaders have that may, in my opinion, separate them from less successful leaders. I’m not sure you can eliminate any of them completely. Just a theory — I don’t know if I know any leaders I’d consider successful — or who I’d want to learn from — who would have at least 5 or more, of these habits.
Here are 7 habits of successful leaders:
Prioritizing each day – Everyday we are flooded with opportunities. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are best. You often won’t know until you try on some of them, but successful leaders strive everyday to identify and do that which is the best use of their time. That means they learn to say “no” often.
Yielding to experience – Successful leaders know they must seek the input from others for continued success. There will always be someone with more experience in a subject. Many times that person will be someone the leader is supposed to be leading. Successful leaders surround themselves with people smarter they they are — especially in areas of their weaknesses. They are never afraid to ask, “Can you help me?” Pretending to have all the answers can destroy a leader. When a leader is willing to humble him or herself and solicit input, the team feels validated and the best answer is discovered.
Networking – Iron sharpens iron. The most successful leaders I know have a network of other successful leaders around them. They glean from each other, share war stories and help each other when needed. The sheltered leader will seldom reach his or her full potential. I’ve observed the best leaders I know having people they trust to whom they can call quickly and seek input.
Continuous learning – Successful leaders are sponges for new information. They are continually reading, taking notes, and exploring different ways of doing things. They aren’t afraid to take a risk on something new.
Maintaining health – Successful leaders learn to balance the demands on them by remaining healthy physically, mentally, spiritually and relationally — as much as it depends on them. No one can escape sudden tragedy or the trials of life, but successful leaders weather those storms by being as prepared as possible before they arrive. That requires discipline. To eat — at least — moderately well. To exercise. To rest. To pray.
Willing to make hard decisions – Successful leaders don’t allow fear, intimidation or friendship to keep them from making the right decisions for the organization they lead. Leading doesn’t always make a person popular, but successful leaders care more about the greater purpose than their personal advancement. They have courage.
Commitment to a higher purpose – Successful leaders are striving for something bigger than themselves — bigger than the reality of today. For me personally, this is my passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but successful leaders are willing to endure the loneliness of leadership, the stress of leading, and the pressure to perform at higher levels, because they believe in something worth the fight.
Those are my observations.
What would you add?