Habits of a great leader

9 habits to be a great leader

I become a manager very early in my career but had no idea about habits to be a great leader. Eventually I was responsible for 5.000 persons and had learned quite a bit on how to manage people. How to be a great leader.

“To manage and to be a leader are two different things. Eventually, when you’re a great leader, you get real leverage from your organization, real payoff and massive growth.”

These are 9 habits I learned to be a great leader, according to my own staff:

  1. Inspire others is a great habit to be a great leader.
  2. Walk the talk – people do what you do, not what you say.
  3. Listen – every team member likes someone who listen to them.
  4. Take decisions but let people contribute and they feel appreciated.
  5. Build culture and you will be seen as a great leader.
  6. Planning and schedules are necessary habits to be a great leader.
  7. Follow-up makes great leaders.
  8. Invest in health is a habit of great leaders.
  9. People development comes natural to great leaders.

So, let me shortly describe my 9 habits to be a great leader:

Inspire others is a great habit to a great leader

To be an inspiration is a great habit to be a great leader. Inspiration can come in different shapes and forms:

  • Make breakthrough sales deals that inspire others.
  • Make and follow up on bold industry statements.
  • Always be happy and optimistic in office.

Lead with inspiration. No one likes a dull or anonymous boss. Everyone likes a winner.

Walk the talk – people do what you do, not what you say

A great leader walks the talk. A great leader realize that leaders are visible.

To walk the talk is more than a saying. Learn first yourself and only then you can delegate and know how to coach and follow up.

Learn first, delegate afterwards and you will be seen as a great leader.

Listen – every team member likes someone who listen to them.

Most managers talk too much. One of the most important habits to be a great leader is the ability to listen.

You gain two advantages when you truly listen to your team members:

  • Listen and make your team members visible. Most people like to be seen, although sometimes in different ways. Being seen is being appreciated.
  • It would be a waste hiring good people not listening to them. Hire only junior people on the training if you like to be the one doing the talk. Hint: You will miss a lot.

You have an upper edge on your team being a leader. Talk too much and you will not learn the true insight your team has.

Take decisions but let people contribute and they feel appreciated

It’s easy for fast minded entrepreneurs to take quick decisions, but this you need to rethink once your organization grow. You need to let people contribute to feel appreciated. That is being a great leader.

“You hired people not only to get more hands-on-deck. Let them grow as professionals and over time your will see huge organizational leverage.”

Slowing down your decision making to let people participate may feel slowing down company performance. Rethink! This is how you get leverage on your organization. A great leader involves his staff to make them grow as professionals.

Build culture and you will be seen as a great leader

Build culture by taking part in sales and operations and you will also be seen as a great leader.

You are the culture ambassador within your organization. Your staff look at you. They do what you do, not what you say.

“Your staff needs to see you, be seen, and to know that you know.”

You do not like to be known as the guy no one knows.

Planning and schedules are necessary habits to be a great leader

It’s easy to be occupied in various meetings, all kinds of meeting. People likes to have your attention when you are the leader.

I learned to block meeting time with myself to get my own work done. This is roughly how I distributed each week when I used to be a senior executive, leading large organizations:

Office hourTask as a senior leader:
20%Own office time reading, emailing, making calls.
30%Management and project meeetings
25%One on one coaching and follow up
25%Travelling (sites, customers, suppliers)

Being a leader is quite different from being “one of the guy’s, as you can see in the table. Planning and schedules are necessary habits to be a great leader.

Follow-up makes great leaders

Follow-up what you have delegated. It is not about lack of trust. To follow up makes people visible and accountable. Spend time and interest with your employees and their tasks and they will grow as professionals.

You should follow-up on your employees even if you do not have a formal sitting where you delegate tasks.

To follow-up on your team makes you a great leader because of these three reasons:

  1. To follow up ensures that tasks are made on time and schedule.
  2. You show interest and get a chance to listen to your employees by following up on their tasks.
  3. Following up means an opportunity to coach, to grow professionalism and to foster culture.

Make sure your learn to follow up for above three reasons. Following up is not about spying, checking or interfering.

“To follow up is about coaching, growing professionalism, building culture, and get a heads up if progress is lacking.”

Invest in health is a habit of great leaders

It feels cliché but invest in health is a habit of great leaders. You feel good and you gain endurance being healthy.

No need to wake up at 4:45 a.m. unless you’re a morning person. Exercise and stay healthy gives most people energy according to scientists, that’s the important part.

People development comes natural to a great leader

It may seem obvious but is often forgotten. Invest in others. People development grows professionalism and nurse your culture.

The story goes:

“CFO to CEO: Why should we invest in people? Maybe they leave. CEO to CFO: What if we do not invest in people and they stay?”

The more knowledgeable and professional your staff is, the more leverage you will have on your organization. Find a natural way to train on the job, to nurse seniority and to invest in specialist skills.

Investing in people development is like investing in marketing and sales. At first you see little outcome but soon you start to see the benefits of your effort.

These 9 habits to be a great leader has helped me a lot over the years.

Being “one of the guy’s” is great and you can, you shall, still be one in the team as your business grow. Being a leader however is a task in itself that you need to deliver upon. These 9 habits to be a great leader is my experience and suggestions to you.

Being a great leader is about maximizing the leverage from your organization. That’s why you started to recruit team members in the first place, isn’t it?

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