10 Realities if You Want to Succeed as a Leader

So, your hard work has finally paid off. Your employer is rewarding you. After paying your dues and earning your stripes, you’ve reached a leadership position.

But new problems now confront you. While you’re honored to be given the position, you’re learning about your challenges.

Often, they’re overwhelming. There are severe problems to solve and you’re expected to solve them.

MH900422730 young business womanJust remember that events in your past — your experiences — have prepared you for these challenges. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been selected for the job.

Congratulations, you probably show promise in five areas:

– Strategic visioning

– You push yourself and others to meet goals

– You’ve demonstrated a willingness to take charge and a desire to influence others

– You’re comfortable with change

– You have a willingness to challenge the status quo

But you wouldn’t be human if you’re weren’t a little apprehensive. You can succeed if you rely on your experience and grow into your new position.

At your peril, don’t ignore these 10 realities:

1. You must understand your new role as a leader. Management is an act of control. Leadership is an act of inspiration. There are key differences between managers and leaders.

With effort, managers can also display leadership qualities. Conversely, leaders can definitely be good managers.

In your new role, primarily, you must develop inspirational qualities.

2. You must understand what’s expected of you. If you don’t understand the objectives handed to you, ask questions.

Review the goals. Reflect on them. Prepare yourself mentally to exceed expectations of your boss.

Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.

-Warren Bennis

3. You must be good at analysis. You’re expected to solve problems to create opportunities for growth. As a leader, you can’t hide from the issues. You have to accept them.

But to solve problems, you must understand them. You have to query everyone involved and develop critical information.

You must also analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. When you launch a project, you must be confident you’ll achieve success.

4. You must get an accomplished mentor. Find someone who has enjoyed the success that you want and who is willing to share insights. Getting a great mentor is the best investment to sustain your career as a leader.

No matter what sector in which you work, a mentor won’t cost you any money and will pay big dividends.

5. You must mentor others in your sphere. Approach your role as a supervisor with an attitude of service. Start a program of employee engagement. Invest in your employees.

Your return on investment will be trusted relationships and higher performance.

Leaders have antennas to alert them over looming challenges. By effectively mentoring your employees, you’ll be in a better position to motivate them when you’re facing adversity.

6. You must work on continuous self-improvement as a manager. Know your strengths and weaknesses in management. You can’t manage others effectively if you don’t manage your own career.

Take an organized, timely approach in rewarding or punishing your employees. Reward results, not busywork. Rewards should be reserved for impactful results.

Performance reviews are an important part of management. You must also avoid errors in evaluations.

If your employees fail to perform, give them a chance to improve. (If they don’t, remember the 3 key issues to consider when terminating workers.)

If you want to hire an impact person, your hiring process is really important. The wrong hires result in costly turnover — a waste of money and time. Before you start interviewing, the place to start is your screening of resumes.

You need people who are a good fit culturally. Especially, if you’re a small operation, conduct behavioral interviews. Remember all background checks are not equal. So avoid making background screening gaffes.

7. You must be a good communicator. Clear communication will help guarantee teamwork and productivity. You need to explain your vision for the team.

Employees appreciate knowing what you expect, how they’re doing and what’s in it for them.

Set goals about expectations of employee performance, coach your workers, and get feedback. Share your logic in decision-making processes. Explain concepts and principles to your workers, so they can feel involved and valued, and can be pro-active and take ownership of their work.

Employees dislike unproductive meetings. Make sure you hold productive meetings to improve performance.

8. You must realize your success depends on the performance of your staff. Embrace collaboration and trust your team’s abilities. Don’t micromanage. If you want maximum profit, consider partnering with your employees.

Employees will be more valuable if they understand what drives profit and improves cash flow. To develop profit drivers, partner with your employees.

Leaders know how to profit from their human capital. Such knowledge is a powerful weapon for high performance in a competitive marketplace. Furthermore, there’s a correlation among excellent sales, happy customers, and high employee morale.

Proverbially speaking, employees are where the tire meets the road. They can solve problems without your involvement and they can offer profitable ideas. So motivate your employees.

9. You must encourage risk taking and innovation. For your short and long-term competitiveness, allow employees to take educated risks but don’t punish them if they don’t succeed.

Every company wants to be successful in this worldwide downturn. But to achieve lofty goals, certainly innovation is the key in our new economy. To become an innovative leader and to participate in turbo-charging the economy, it’s vital to continually evaluating your organization and strategizing for success. That includes becoming a top innovator.

10. You must get socially involved. More companies are aware that employee engagement and morale enable a better customer experience, which leads to higher performance. Friendly employees will stay longer and work harder.

Do a team outing or hold morale-building events on a regular basis. Outside of work, your employees will feel more comfortable.

Just be sure you keep a professional image and don’t get in situations that will compromise your leadership role.

From the Coach’s Corner, related leadership content:

18 Leadership Strategies to Earn Employee Respect — Eighteen strategies to profit from good labor relations, and to leverage the perspective of employees – your company’s human capital.

To Become a Leader, Develop Strategic Planning Skills — What does this mean? It means you must see the big picture — take a long-term approach in anticipating and solving problems.

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”

-Peter Drucker


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.