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10 Traits of Effective Leaders


As a leader, you already know how to identify each of your team member’s strongest skills and assets. Because you don’t expect each person on the team to excel in every area, you also know that it’s important to create a diverse group of people who balance and complement one another. Similarly, leaders have their own unique skills and specializations. Effective leaders often possess the following ten traits.

1. Focused
To lead a team to success, leaders must possess an extraordinary amount of focus. It’s important to eliminate distractions from the work area and to hone in on the key issues at hand. While leaders are often pulled in numerous directions simultaneously, they must be able to retain clear minds and focus on the things that matter.

2. Passionate
It’s possible to teach someone to be a leader, but truly effective leaders are already passionate about what they do. Your enthusiasm and level of commitment can inspire your team members and motivate them to do better work. Modeling the attitude you want each person to have is one of the most effective ways to lead your team toward a successful destination.

3. Assertive
As a leader, you have requirements for your team and goals that must be fulfilled. When team members (more…)

How Transformational Leaders Can Understand What Matters Most and Measure It


You need to know your “squats”…

Answer this question: If you were able to focus the attention and efforts of everyone on your team on one set of goals that would drive significant results for your company, what would you use as the one metric to measure progress? How would you know you were on the right track? What would be the rallying cry for your team?

Transformational leaders need a focused metric for progress: What are the “squats” for your organization?

A colleague who runs a large financial services company figured it out. He visited with the head athletic trainer of the Houston Texans and posed that same question, “What is the acid test for fitness?” The answer came back as a single word, “Squats.” The athletic trainer said, “If a player can squat twice his body weight, I know that the other aspects of training (cardio fitness, drills, discipline) are all in line.”

Seasoned leaders like that come to understand which measures reveal the most powerful indications of progress and health.

I believe that the same approach works for business. Transformational leaders—the ones who can make the biggest impact on forward momentum—know what to look for and know how to focus their colleagues on what matters most. They know the secret of the “squat” for their business—that single metric that proves they’re (more…)

Why Being a “Presentologist” Will Determine Your Future Success


Predicting the future is easy. Predicting it accurately is the hard part. That’s why I recommend a “presentologist” approach.

Regardless of whether times are Up, Down, or Sideways, we too easily get off track when we chase success as a futurist. So rather than focusing on what might happen, focus on what you can do now to ensure you’ll be successful regardless of what happens. Rather than trying to predict the future, prepare for it.

You can prepare for it in a number of ways, but one of the most important is through learning. And while we might approach each day as a presentologist, we can still learn in the future tense. That’s not easy, because there’s so much out there to learn and a limited amount of time each day in which to learn it. What we choose to learn is critical, because the successful person isn’t the one who learns the most stuff the best — it’s the person who learns the most important stuff the fastest.

When you consider all the options for what to learn today that will prepare you for tomorrow, start by looking at the options with three pieces of glass — a mirror, a telescope, and magnifying glass.

  • Look in the mirror. Be honest with yourself about your skills, talents, goals, strengths, weaknesses, time, et al.
  • Look into the telescope. What can you see in the distance that’s coming your way? How will marriage or a new child shape your future? How will life change as an empty-nester? What changes seem likely (if not 100 percent predictable) within your industry, your company, or your career?
  • Look into the magnifying glass. What’s happening at the gritty level of now? What do you need to learn to succeed today, tomorrow, this week, this month?

Wisely investing your learning time will provide the leverage you need to succeed in the present and in the future.

This post is by Mark Sanborn, the author of the new release Up, Down, or Sideways: How to Succeed When Times Are Good, Bad, or In Between. You can download a sample chapter at http://www.marksanborn.com/up-down-or-sideways/. Order now from Amazon.

Five Keys to Legendary Leadership


Leadership — genuine, influential, effective leadership — is a subtle thing. It’s not something that readily reduces to a cookie-cutter recipe or paint-by-numbers formula. We all know that. That’s why there have been a thousand good books on leadership, and will be a thousand more. But for all we describe it and study it, it still seems elusive — which is why it so often surprises us when a truly great leader appears in our midst.

Why so elusive? In part, because great leadership is shot through with contradiction.

A great leader is selfless — and has a healthy ego. A great leader is by definition unitary, singular, unique — and somehow inspires thousands to emulate him or her. Great leaders have their heads in the clouds and their toes firmly in the dirt.

Here are five descriptions of what great leaders do, what we call “Five Keys to Legendary Leadership.” The first four are all essential — and are completely contradicted by the fifth. Yet somehow, the first four don’t seem to work without the fifth.

They are the four fingers and thumb of leadership.

Finger #1: Hold the Vision
Building a business takes skill, work, and capital resources. But those are details. More than anything else, building a business—really, building anything—is an act of faith. Because you’re creating something out of nothing. You are moving into the future on invisible wires, without a net.

It’s easy to say, “Hold a vision.” The hard part isn’t the vision. Anyone can come up with a vision. The hard part is the holding.
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