There are a lot of people who have the title of ‘leader’ who don’t understand what being an effective leader actually means. Some people mistake leadership for bossing other people around or giving orders. But good leadership is about a lot more than telling other people what to do.
What does it mean to be an effective leader?
To be a good leader, you have to recognize that you can’t do everything alone. You can’t see yourself as the most important person and you can’t get caught up in competing for attention or praise. As a leader, you have to recognize the value your team members bring, and work to develop and strengthen the people around you so that every person on the team can reach their full potential and play their part to accomplish the mission.
Being an effective leader also means knowing when it’s time to let go of control. In the military, we call this Decentralized Command. It means that you don’t micro-manage your team or insist on making every decision. You have to trust your team members to handle their responsibilities. If you don’t trust your team, you either need to check your ego or choose people you know are able to execute on the mission.
But one of the most important leadership skills (and people forget this one a lot) is that you lead yourself first. This means you operate with integrity and choose to do the right thing, even when nobody is watching. Even when it’s hard. Leadership is putting the mission above everything, including your own ego and emotions. You need to have the conviction and focus to stay committed to the mission, so you can inspire the people you lead to do the same.
Because you can’t expect people to give what you won’t.
Imagine having a boss or coach who orders you to do something they would never do themselves. How much would you trust them? Probably not very much. The same rules apply when you’re the leader. If you want a team that will follow you on any mission, you need to be the first to lead by example.
Here are five ways you can lead by example:
1. Hold yourself accountable
If you make mistakes, fix them. See a problem? Find a solution. Being an effective leader means being willing to take responsibility for everything. This will inspire your team to practice the same accountability and initiative.
2. Share the mission with your team
If you want your team to be as committed to the mission as you are, you need to let them know the purpose behind the mission. It’s hard for people to blindly follow orders when they don’t understand why those tasks are important. In my businesses, I use the TPCS (Task, Purpose, Conditions, Standards) method I learned in the military to give my team clarity on how their work fits into the bigger picture.
Task gives you clarity on the task that needs to be done. Purpose gets rid of the need for motivation by identifying why the task is important. Conditions eliminate excuses by identifying what needs to happen for the task to get done. And Standards set the requirements for the task so you don’t procrastinate or cut corners.
3. Don’t run away from the hard stuff
Leadership isn’t always fun. Sometimes it means having awkward conversations, making tough decisions, and doing hard work. But that’s the job. So, don’t run. Show your team you’re willing to do the hard stuff, even when it’s uncomfortable. When they see you do it, they’ll be willing to do the same.
4. Set standards and stick to them
One of the first things I teach my mentees is to figure out their values, principles, core beliefs, and non-negotiables because it becomes the foundation for their whole business. But standards are easy to follow when everything is going well. Being an effective leader means sticking to those standards even when things are going wrong and falling apart.
5. Sharpen your emotional intelligence
People think business is all about logic. And it is important to make logical decisions. But you can’t do that without understanding emotions. You need to have emotional intelligence (EQ) to understand how your feelings affect your views and choices. This will make it easier to make choices when you’re feeling overwhelmed or upset and avoid decisions that feed your ego. When you have good EQ for yourself, it also becomes easier to understand what makes the people around you tick so you can get the best out of them.
These habits will take practice, because leadership is a skill, and you have to work to develop it every day. I didn’t wake up one day as a good leader. I learned a lot about leadership from my time in the military – you can learn more about my journey in my book, Law of Ambition – and I’m always working on setting the best example for my team and everyone else around me.
You can learn the art and skill of leadership too if you’re willing to put in the work. The more you sharpen your leadership skills and become better at leading yourself, the more effective you’ll become at leading others and your business to success.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re going to do today to become a better leader.