Category Leadership Styles

5 Steps To Calming The Waters When A New Boss Enters The Pool

… of all the things that can cause ripples in our ‘pond,’ changing leaders should be considered the equivalent of doing a cannonball dive into the water …

A quick note from Steve:

This article focuses on the new manager or leader, but the discussion can apply to anyone taking on the role of ‘New Boss.’



As leaders, we often consider organizational changes that impact our culture or progress toward successfully achieving our goals.

The change could be a location change, IT changes, new strategic plans, economic downturns or a myriad of organizational changes that can cause ripples in our corporate waters.

In my experience, one of the least managed organizational changes is a leadership change.

And of all the things that can cause ripples in our ‘pond,’ changing leaders or managers should be considered the equivalent of doing a cannonball dive into the water.

An additional complication is that boards of directors increasingly seek leaders from outside their organization. 

In 2017, 44% of US companies & organizations searching for new leadership hire from outside the organization.

Often, outsiders are chosen to deliver strategic course corrections, restructures, mergers, culture change, or digital transformation, and under short timelines, incoming leaders or managers need to have a deep understanding of their leadership competencies and effectiveness. 


The new leaders or managers as an organizational change challenge.

Most incoming leaders or managers, internal or external, get off to a rocky start. 

Society for Human Resource Management research shows that 58% of senior leadership hires struggle in their new positions after 18 months. 

18 months!

Therefore, carefully planning a new chief executive’s integration is crucial. 


What is the key to success? 

Your success must be gained by building momentum across the whole organization.

Not by acting frenetically but by thoughtfully choosing the speed to help the organization mobilize, execute, and transform effectively. 

The incoming leader or manager must need to:

  • gain knowledge of board expectations,
  • understand the bench strength of the leadership team, and,
  • appreciate the organization’s culture.

This will help leaders or managers understand when to gather insights when to make fact-based decisions, and when to execute quickly.


Five steps to speed up new leaders or managers’ integration

In my experience, new leaders or managers who take the following five steps have the best chance at successful acceleration.


  1. What are your unique strengths?

The characteristics that have served you well so far may not lead to success in a new role as a leader or manager. 

Success in your new role depends on navigating the organization’s current cultural context and quickly understanding the roadblocks to performance. 

Self-awareness is crucial. The ability to reflect upon and assess one’s strengths, weaknesses, and leadership style will enable proper planning on how to change the culture and increase performance.

Consider the following questions to help align your and the organization’s unique strengths: 

  • Why was I hired for this role; what is my differentiation?
  • What is my vision for this organization? 
  • What distinctive strengths can I leverage in this context? 
  • What might derail me within this organization?
  • How do I become more self-aware and plan for my blind spots? 
  • What do I hope my legacy will be?

 Read the seven career-saving questions you should ask before starting a new project.

  1. Build an adequate influence base.

External leaders or managers are typically brought in to drive transformational change.

Everyone expects change, so every move of the new leader or manager is evaluated and scrutinized for meaning. 

Understanding the formal and informal sources of influence within an organization takes time.

You need to talk to your people to get a clear view of what they love and hate, what they see as most broken, and what excites them. 

As a new leader or manager, you will be under a lot of pressure—from the board, your leadership team, and the culture itself—to show up and make change happen quickly. 

Don’t fall into the trap of making big decisions too quickly—you don’t know enough to know whether they are the right decisions. 

Getting to know the key stakeholders will help new leaders or managers develop a plan to build relationships that can quickly transform influencers into advocates.

Addressing the following questions is a significant next step: 

  • How do I identify the key influencers? 
  • Where are the real influencers within the organization below my leadership team?
  • What questions should I ask key constituents to build my knowledge base?
  • How do I effectively structure a listening tour?
  • How will I structure my story and share my vision for the organization?

Want To Explore This Topic Further?

Join the Better Leader Inner Circle On Thursday, May 23 at 11:00MT/1:00ET

Click Here To Register And Get A Recording If You Can’t Attend 

  1. Define success and priorities.

Incoming leaders or managers typically align highly with the board and other senior executives regarding what constitutes success and what the priorities are. 

The new leaders or managers need a detailed definition of success and what needs to be addressed first. 

It is essential to take the time to define the high-impact opportunities that will impact customers, products, systems, and people. 

Careful management of the first 100 days is critical to the success of the new leaders or managers. 

This is the time when the stakes are high for both the organization and the reputation of the incoming leaders or managers. 

Ideally, the 100-day playbook will accelerate the integration of new executives into their new environment while prioritizing quick wins and longer-term strategic capabilities.

Addressing the following questions will get leaders or managers started on this step: 

  • What are the performance indicators for this role?
  • How will my performance be evaluated in six months and a year? 
  • How (and from whom) will I receive feedback?
  • How will I get oriented to our markets, customers, and organization?
  • How will I get clarity on and manage board expectations? 

Read more about managing competing priorities.

  1. Mobilize the top team quickly.

Most often, a new leader or manager makes changes to the senior team. 

In 2017, 91% of S&P 500 companies indicated that changes in leaders or managers would accompany changes at the director or senior executive levels.

Given the change agenda, new external leaders or managers need to develop an understanding of the senior team’s performance and quickly make decisions on how to bolster the team’s effectiveness.

Addressing the following questions will help new leaders or managers shape and mobilize their top teams: 

  • How will I assess my team’s baseline level of performance?
  • What are the business goals or outcomes for which my team members are mutually accountable?
  • How will I determine membership on my top team?
  • What operating norms do I think are needed on this team?
  • Who will support me in developing my team to accelerate performance?


  1. Shape the culture

Organizational culture is a crucial driver of change and a barrier to execution. 

In my experience, everyday cultural strengths and liabilities have become so ingrained and automatic that they are not questioned. 

If the cultural fit between the new leaders or managers and the organization is off, execution can feel like pushing a rope.

This challenge has been defined as the Culture Eating Strategy’s lunch because dysfunctional cultural habits can chew up any improvement the new leaders or managers try to make. 

A major study shows that 70% of all change efforts fail to achieve their objectives. 

The new leaders or managers must quickly become familiar with the cultural values, unwritten rules, and practices of their new organization. 

Addressing the following questions will give new leaders or managers a cultural grounding:

  • What are the strengths and liabilities of the current culture?
  • How do I shape the culture to align with our new strategic direction?
  • How do I improve high-performing behaviours such as accountability and collaboration?
  • How can I better understand the shadow of my leadership team?
  • What is the execution effectiveness of my organization?

 Read more about culture.


Newly appointed leaders risk failure unless they address the obstacles to their organizational and personal success. 

If poorly made, a new leader or manager’s initial set of decisions and actions will create unintended consequences that will be difficult to reverse. 

Therefore, initial actions and decisions must be carefully planned.

An acceleration requires new leaders or managers to:

  • assess and develop themselves to be most effective in the new context; 
  • understand their organization’s influencers and culture, 
  • how to leverage both for success; 
  • develop a detailed and shared understanding of success and priorities, and 
  • mobilize their top team. 

Those who take the time to do so put themselves on the best path toward lasting success.

Want To Explore This Topic Further?

Join the Better Leader Inner Circle On Thursday, May 23 at 11:00MT/1:00ET

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5 Actions To Drive Alignment and Increase in Profit – And Who Doesn’t Want More Profit

Poor managerial behaviours negatively impact engagement, alignment, productivity, and retention.

Research has identified gaps between what people expect and their experience when working with their immediate manager.

Poor managers cost your company money when:

  1. They don’t set clear goals with their people.
  2. They don’t align goals to the team, departmental, and organizational objectives.
  3. They don’t check in on progress.
  4. They don’t provide feedback.
  5. They don’t adjust their style based on the needs of the employee.
  6. They don’t listen.
  7. They don’t change (without training and support).


  1. They don’t set clear goals with their people.


About 70 percent of people want to have goal-setting conversations often or all the time, but only 36 percent do. When managers aren’t skilled in setting specific, trackable, relevant, attainable, and motivating goals, the result is multiple priorities, unclear action steps, and a poor line of sight on how work contributes to larger objectives.

“All good performance begins with a laser-like focus on goals,” so Identify 3 to 5 critical goals for each employee and make sure they are written down. Goals that are written down are 18 percent more likely to be achieved. Writing down the goal also makes it easier to review.

  1. They don’t align goals to the team, departmental, and organizational objectives.

Only 14 percent of organizations report that their employees understand their company’s strategy and direction.

When people don’t know where their company is going, they can work on projects that are out of step with organizational objectives.

Make sure all team members are working on the highest-priority tasks. Ask managers to check in and review priorities with their people. Ensure the work is meaningful, on target, and contributes to overall organizational goals.

  1. They don’t check in on progress.

More than 73 percent of people want to have goal-review conversations often or all the time, but only 47 percent do. And 26 percent say they rarely or never discuss current goals and tasks.

What gets measured gets managed.

Research conducted at Dominican University in California found that people who write down their goals, share them with someone else, and have regular weekly check-ins are 30 percent more likely to achieve those goals than people who do not.

  1. They don’t provide feedback.

Research shows that 67 percent of people want to have performance-feedback conversations often or all the time, but only 29 percent do. And 36 percent say they rarely or never receive performance feedback.

Without feedback, people don’t have a way to make course corrections or to know how they are doing until it’s late in the process. No one feels good when work must be redone because of a lack of feedback.

A few key attributes of good feedback are:

– Focus on observable behaviours, not personality traits. Feedback should be clear and directive and should focus on concrete actions.

– Keep a positive end goal in mind. Paint a positive picture of the desired outcome that gives people a vision to work toward.

– Offer to be an accountability partner. Change is hard. Offer to provide appropriate direction and support as needed.

  1. They don’t adjust their style based on the needs of the employee.

Nearly 54 percent of managers use the same leadership style for all people in all situations, regardless of whether a direct report is new to a task or already an expert. Half the time, this results in a manager either over-supervising or under-supervising.

The best managers tailor their management style to the needs of their employees. For example, if an employee is new to a task, a successful manager will use a highly directive style with clearly set goals and deadlines. If an employee struggles with a task, the manager will use equal measures of direction and support. If the employee is an expert at a task, a manager will use a delegating style on the current assignment and focus instead on coming up with new challenges and future growth projects.

  1. They don’t listen.

When I ask clients and audience members, “What is the biggest mistake leaders make when working with others?” Forty-one percent of the respondents identified inappropriate communication or poor listening.

Here’s a three-step model to help managers slow down and focus on what people share.

– Explore—ask open-ended questions such as, “Can you tell me more about that?” or “How do you think that will go?” or “What does that mean?”

– Acknowledge—respond with comments such as, “You must be feeling …” or “So, if I hear you correctly, what you’re saying is ….”

– Respond—now that you understand the direct report’s point of view, you can carefully move forward with a possible response.

  1. They don’t change (without training and support).

Most new managers—60 percent—underperform or fail in their first assignments. Worse yet, as Harvard researcher Linda Hill has found, managerial habits developed by new managers often continue to hobble them for the rest of their careers.

With two million people across North America stepping into their first managerial position each year, getting people the training they need is critical.

Unfortunately, research shows that most managers don’t receive formal training until ten years into their careers!

I suggest you rethink the traditional approach to who gets trained in the organization.

My suggestions?

  1. Don’t hold your best people back—in fact, don’t hold anyone back. Why not train everybody who desires it?
  2. Show everyone you value them and are willing to invest in their development.
  3. Adopt inclusive policies that identify and provide people with the training they need to build leadership bench strength, bring out the best in people, and create a strong work culture.

Better leadership practices have been positively associated with increased engagement, alignment, productivity, and performance.

Research has identified that better leadership practices—if fully employed—could be worth as much as a 7 percent increase in profits!

For leadership development professionals, these seven areas provide an opportunity to take a more targeted approach to improve manager performance in each region.

Here are five ways to get started.

  1. Take a look at the overall design of your performance management process.

Conduct a quick internal assessment. Are managers following best practices in setting specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable goals? What percentage of employees have current goals written down?

Individuals and organizations achieve more when goals are identified, written down, and reviewed consistently.

Read more about performance management

  1. Double-check on goal alignment at the team and department level.

Make sure that all team members are working on the highest-priority tasks. Ask managers to check in and review priorities with their people.

Ensure the work is meaningful, on target, and contributes to overall organizational goals. Efficiency improves when everyone is clear on goals and moving in the same direction.

Read more about goal alignment.

  1. Please look at how much time your managers spend with their people.

Everyone benefits from regular coaching and performance review.

Monitoring progress and providing feedback are two key ways for a manager to stay involved and partner with an employee to achieve goals. I suggest leaders meet with their direct reports at least twice a month to discuss progress toward goals and to address employee needs for direction and support.

Read more about time management.

  1. Identify what individuals need to succeed in their high-priority tasks.

Managers need to adjust their leadership style to meet each person’s needs, depending on their experience and confidence with the tasks they are assigned.

With proper levels of direction and support, people can move through stages of development and reach peak performance faster.

Surprisingly, without training, only 1 percent of managers are skilled at identifying and delivering all four styles when needed, whether directing, coaching, supporting, or delegating.

  1. Review your performance review process.

In many organizations, goals are set at the beginning of the year and not seen again until the review process at the end of the year.

I recommend that managers conduct a series of mini-reviews throughout the year—every 90 days is the recommended standard. This allows leaders to make mid-course corrections. It also eliminates surprises for direct reports and keeps the partnership between the manager and direct report solid and vibrant.

 Read more about goals.

Final Thoughts

A renewed focus on leadership development can significantly affect an organization’s performance. Research shows that when managers meet the needs of their people, organizations benefit through higher levels of discretionary effort, work performance, and intention to remain and collaborate more effectively.

How are the managers in your organization impacting your bottom line?

Give your leadership development process a review.

Great managers aren’t born—they’re trained.

Get started today by emailing me at

The 6 Secret T’s To Know What To Delegate

 Do you feel overwhelmed at work?

If yes, you are not alone. According to a recent Deloitte survey of 2,500 organizations in 90 countries, two-thirds of managers say they’re overwhelmed.

This is a problem; your responsibility is to ensure the company succeeds.

The result is that managers and leaders take on too much work. A survey by eVoice found that 44% of entrepreneurs reported wearing five or more hats in their business at any time.

The answer is to delegate more effectively.

Delegate so you can spend more time on strategic decisions.

You should delegate every task that DOES NOT move you closer to achieving your objectives.

But how can you decide which tasks to delegate and what you should keep control of yourself?

Jenny Blake, in a Harvard Business Review article, suggests we conduct an audit using the six T’s to determine what tasks make the most sense to offload:

Tiny: Tasks that are so small they seem inconsequential to tackle, but they add up. They are never urgent, and even if they only take a few minutes, they make you out of the flow of more strategic work. For example, they are registering for a conference or event, adding it to your calendar, and booking the hotel and flight — on their own. These things may not take much time, but they all add up.

Tedious: Relatively simple tasks are not the best use of your time and can (and should) be handled by anyone but you. For example, you manually input a 100-item list into a spreadsheet and colour-coding it or update the KPIs in your presentation deck.

Time-Consuming: Although they may be significant and even somewhat complex, tasks are time-consuming and do not require you to do the initial 80% of research. You can quickly step in when the task is 80% complete and give approval, oversight and direction on the next steps.

Teachable: Tasks that, although complicated-seeming at first and possibly comprising several smaller subtasks, can be translated into a system and passed along, with you still providing quality checks and final approval and, for example, teaching one of your direct reports how to draft the presentation deck for the monthly all-hands meeting and even how to be the one to deliver those updates to the team.

Terrible At: Tasks that not only do not fall into your strengths but an area where you feel unequipped. You take far longer than people skilled in this area and still produce a subpar result. For example, designing those PowerPoint slides for the team meeting.

Time Sensitive: Tasks that are time-sensitive but compete with other priorities; there isn’t enough to do them all at once, so you delegate an essential and time-sensitive task to be done parallel to your other project-based deadlines.

Once you have decided what to give away, learn how by reading “The #1 Secret “ & 4 Tips You Need To Know To Delegate.”

Maya Angelou, Imposters, 50% Rules & 4 Traps To Avoid

The legendary poet and activist Maya Angelou once said about herself: “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’ll find me out.”


Are you faking it until you make it?

Can you move past the imposter syndrome to the following levels of personal confidence and, thereby, the next level of leadership competencies?

You need to understand a few inalienable thoughts.

To transition successfully, leaders must become good students of their own experience and remain open to adapting their mindset and behaviour.


The 50-Percent Rule

The 50-percent Rule goes like this:

Half of what made you successful in the past is essential to success in your next role.

And half of what made you successful in the past won’t help in your next part and may get in the way of success.

The thing is, no one can tell you which half is which!


Transition Traps

Without attending to the 50-percent Rule, leaders easily fall into any of the following transition traps:

  • The big speech.
  • There’s a new sheriff in town.
  • I know what good looks like.
  • Get stuff done at any cost.

Trap No. 1: The Big Speech

The big speech is precisely that: trying to be articulate early on, tying the business and yourself into a nice bow.

The trap is that you, the leader, mentally check the box that you have been clear, but everyone else remains in wait-and-see mode or thinks, “I’ve heard that before.” 

Trap No. 2: There’s a New Sheriff in Town

Some leaders intend to be candid about their expectations, ensuring everyone knows who is now in charge. They may think they are telling people how to be successful.

If the leader isn’t clear on what distinguishes high from underperforming, they drive honest conversation underground and foster a rumour mill about who might be in the doghouse—or worse. 

Read More About the New Sheriff

Trap No. 3: I Know What Good Looks Like 

Ironically, leaders can fall into this trap precisely because they desire to share best practices. The first time a leader in transition offers benchmark comparisons of how similar issues were handled at their last company, people listen attentively. But by the fourth or fifth time, the same people discretely roll their eyes or mentally recite the benchmark story they have heard too many times.

The trap is that leaders isolate themselves from the people they want to work with.

Trap No. 4: Get Stuff Done at Any Cost 

As you up your leadership game, you may commit to driving the change that previously could not be achieved. You may start leaning on people until the shift occurs. Progress may be realized at the cost of creating a reputation for being unreasonable and dismissive.

By falling into this trap, you will be forced into investing time in rebuilding your brand, re-establishing relationships, and discovering ways not to alienate everyone around you. 


What can you do?

For all of your positive aspirations to be the leader you want to become and your people deserve, you can fall into almost every trap imaginable.

What kind of leader are you? Do you want the final say or are you all about democracy? Take our quiz to find out …


      1. The quiz should take about five minutes.
      2. Answer the following questions by circling the letter (A, B, C, D) that best reflects you.
      3. At the end of the quiz, add the number of A’s, B’s, C’s, or D’s you have.
      4. Then discover what kind of leader you are, as well as tips for success with that leadership style.

Click Here To Download You Own PDF Copy Of This Quiz

1. Do you enjoy working in a group setting?

A. No, telling the group what we will do is easier.

B. Groups can be a good way of promptly achieving what you want to be done.

C. I would rather let the group work alone and then give them my thoughts on what they come up with at the end of the meeting.

D. Yes, I enjoy hearing what my peers have to say.

2. A colleague comes in late for work the third day in a row after promising you it would never happen again. She begs you not to tell your supervisor. What do you do?

A. You had already told your supervisor the first time she was late, and now you will put in a complaint to HR.

B. You tell her that it will be ok and that you will make sure no one finds out.

C. You don’t want to get involved, so you slip off and perform your duties. 

D. You tell her that you have already caught her up on the work she was behind but that you are worried she might get in trouble. You ask her kindly not to be late again.

3. If you had chosen a career path other than what you are doing now, which of the following would you have chosen?

A. A job in criminal justice (Judge, Police Officer, Lawyer).

B. A job in entertainment (Dancer, Singer, Actor).

C. A job in finance (Accountant, Business, Stock Broker).

D. A job in events (Event Planner, Wedding Planner, Manager)

4. Your colleague is having problems at home and is asking you for your advice at work. What do you do?

A. Tell them to keep their personal problems to themselves, especially at work. 

B. Tell them everything will be ok, and you will work out a solution for them. 

C. Ask them what they think they should do about the problem, and then tell them to follow their intuition.

D. Tell them you would be happy to help them every step of the way, whatever it takes.

5. How do you feel about rules?

A. You make the rules

B. It’s ok to bend the rules if you need to.

C. Rules need to be established to get work done.

D. Rules are made for a reason and should be followed. 

6. A new employee was hired last month, and he still hasn’t gotten used to how fast-paced your department is. What do you do?

A. You usually tell people what to do to be efficient, and he is no different. You don’t mind directing your colleagues. 

B. You encourage him to shadow you to learn how to do the job properly and efficiently, just like you. 

C. You let him work the job out on his own. He was given all the necessary tools in school to be successful.

D. You tell a few colleagues about the issue and work together to ensure he gets the proper training.

7. How do you prefer to make a big decision at work?

A. I like to make the decisions and then let my colleagues know what I have decided we will do.

B. Encourage your team to see it your way; after all, you usually have the best ideas.

C. You like to let your staff know all the information needed to make the decision and then let them brainstorm on their own.

D. You like to work with your peers to find the best solution possible, even if it takes a while to arrive at a conclusion.

8. How responsible do you feel for your coworkers?

A. I feel very responsible. I have always felt nothing will ever be done on time if I don’t constantly direct my team.

B. I am somewhat responsible for them because they admire how well I do my job. They might get confused if they didn’t have me as a role model.

C. I am not responsible for any of my colleagues. They have the materials they need to succeed.

D. We are all responsible for each other.

9. When you are learning something new you,

A. Want to gather the information needed and learn the facts quickly?

B. Read some of the material, but eventually, you teach yourself how to do it independently.

C. Like to learn only the required information so you are efficiently using your time.

D. Read all the provided material, as well as research it yourself. Also, you speak to your peers and exchange information and opinions on the subject.

10. What words describe you best?

A. Powerful, efficient and independent.

B. Energetic, motivational and charming.

C. Relaxed, trusting and helpful.

D. Logical, social and creative.

Click Here To Download You Own PDF Copy Of This Quiz

Exam Time is over! Now, count your A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s:

A’s _____ B’s _____ C’s _____ D’s _____


If you have chosen mostly A’s, you are a Rigid leader. 

      • You are a powerful and intelligent worker; work is all about efficiency. 
      • You can sometimes come across as strict when you give directions, but in your mind, you are just doing your job well. 
      • Your leadership style is most helpful when there is a matter of urgency. 

However, this leadership style can come on as too strong in most situations. By delivering your message in a friendlier way, you will be able to do your work efficiently but also as one of the most well-liked employees.

If you have chosen mostly B’s, you are a Charismatic Leader. 

      • You are a very energetic worker and carry a large amount of responsibility. 
      • You love to encourage your team to do the best that they can do, although, sometimes, you may believe that you are the only one who knows how to get tasks done correctly. 
      • This is not always a problem for you; this leadership style makes you likable. Your coworkers tend to admire your work ethic. 

However, if you aren’t at work one day, some of your coworkers will have difficulty figuring out how to perform tasks without your direction. You need to ensure that your team has their independence from you so they can succeed as well. 

If you have chosen mostly C’s, you are a Laissez-Faire Leader.  

      • You are a leader that expects a lot from your coworkers. 
      • You give them the freedom to work independently without judgment, which works well if they are proficient workers and have a lot of experience. 

However, this leadership style can become disastrous if your colleagues are not as skilled as others. To avoid a lack of focus and motivation, you must make sure that you are checking in on your coworkers; They will benefit from more group work, and you will benefit from taking a more hands-on approach.   

If you have chosen mostly D’s, you are a Democratic Leader

      • You are a team player and believe in equal participation; therefore, you are bothered when your peers don’t work together.
      • Discussion and debate are your forte, which can hold you and your team back.
      • This can be one of the most effective leadership styles because your people feel like they are being treated fairly.

However, you ensure you are using your time effectively and avoid getting caught up in being fair such that you lose sight of the task at hand.

How Did You Do?

Is There Space For Improvement?

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Can You Name the 9 Essential Qualities of a Leader?

There are many schools of thought about the role of a leader. What are the essential qualities of a leader? What are the must-haves?

Well, I have three distinct opinions.

What makes a great leader?

  1. A leader taps into their team’s talents to achieve results.
  2. A leader’s role is not to engage their team but to achieve their mission by motivating and inspiring their people.
  3. A leader does not run a country club; they lead people to achieve something more significant than they could ever achieve as individuals.

The essential qualities of a leader

We also know that each leader should have a mission. Often, there are overlapping qualities between leaders in any industry and for all kinds of teams. For example, their mission is to create a cohesive, effective team in almost every case. Their mission could be to inspire, motivate, and bring out the best in their team.

But one thing is for sure, regardless of the exact details of their mission, there are certain qualities a leader must have to achieve them.

Here are the nine qualities of a leader they must tap into to lead effectively and in line with their goals.

Be Creative

Leaders must be creative and unafraid to take creative risks. Creativity allows competency to move to excellence. It is the spark that captures peoples’ attention and builds a cohesive whole.

Know the Structure

Leaders know and understand the structure of their organization. But they also know when to move beyond the boundaries of these structures. While we all work within parameters and limitations, a great leader knows not to let structure slow the process. Knowing the structure enables you to guide others to work within it effectively.

Use Your Intuition

Intuition is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. And emotional intelligence is one of the cornerstone qualities of a leader. Use your insight to sense what others are feeling and thinking so you can respond to them with understanding.

(We discuss more why emotional intelligence is critical to becoming a better leader in this post.)

Be Committed

A leader is committed to success. One of the qualities of a leader who leads effectively is that they can articulate that vision to the team. Then, they can also move and inspire the team toward the goal.

Be Human

Employees value humble and selfless leaders who don’t hide behind authority. The best leaders are those who aren’t afraid to be themselves. They respect and connect with others and inspire loyalty.

Be Versatile

Flexibility is the ability to be not overly attached to how things are ‘supposed to be’ and allows you to respond to events that will inevitably come up.

Have Fun

A light touch and a laugh balance out the seriousness of the task at hand and the team’s resolve and contribute to results and retention. When appropriate, levity can go a long way to energize your team members and promote a positive team environment.


Discipline is the ability to choose what one pays attention to and consistently model leadership. It’s one of the qualities of a leader that, by demonstrating, they can also inspire in their team.


Do not take your eye off your objectives … a leader achieves results!

(On the topic of results, take a look at this post next: The Last Thing You Need Is Another Leadership TED Talk: 3 Tactics That Leads To Action & Results)

Develop these qualities of a leader in yourself.

When you read through this list, chances are you mentally checked off some items. Maybe discipline and focus are two of your strong suits as a leader. But chances are, there are also some qualities of a leader you would like to work on developing in yourself. In that case, we should talk. My one-on-one coaching is for new or uncertain leaders who need help finding their way forward. Please read all about how it works here.

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This post was first published in 2017 but was updated in 2021, just for you.