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What Makes a Successful Leader?

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Leadership is challenging. Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or you run a small mom-and-pop convenience store, being a successful leader requires a combination of qualities and skills. Of course, there is a stark difference between a poor leader and a successful one, but what exactly sets them apart? Here’s all you need to know about the makings of a successful leader.

The Challenge of Leading Others

Leading others is no easy feat, which is perhaps why it’s so challenging to be a successful leader. You must make tough decisions, deal with conflicts, and inspire others to follow you. Doing so requires a strong sense of self-awareness and confidence in one’s abilities as a leader. It also requires adapting and being flexible in different situations and environments.

Leadership is also constantly evolving, and techniques that worked in the past may no longer be effective. This is especially true since the COVID-19 pandemic shaped and molded how we do business and handle leadership. Successful leaders have to be able to navigate this changing landscape while also remaining true to their core values and principles.


Another element to add another dimension to leadership is the rise in remote work. How do you motivate and inspire others on a virtual platform? There are a lot of factors to consider if you cannot have face-to-face interaction with them.

The Must Haves of Successful Leaders

Specific characteristics are commonplace among some of the best leaders in the world. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Tim Cook, and Bill Gates. What do they all have in common?

Great Communication Skills

Being able to communicate effectively is crucial for successful leadership. This involves not only being able to give clear instructions and delegate tasks but also being able to listen to the concerns and ideas of others. Reading body language and nonverbal understanding cues can also contribute to strong communication abilities as a leader.

Leaders Elevate Others

Successful leaders can recognize and scale employees to their fullest potential. They can also create organizational ecosystems to drive maximum productivity and imagination. Leaders are humble enough to understand they don’t have to be the most intelligent person in the room to be the most effective.


Empathy is an essential quality for any successful leader. Understanding the emotions and perspectives of others can help make difficult decisions, resolve conflicts, and inspire team cohesion. Empathy also allows leaders to connect with their employees deeper, leading to better job satisfaction and performance.

Leaders Make Tough Decisions

Making hard decisions is one of the most complex parts of being a successful leader. Whether it’s downsizing staff or changing technology, leaders are tasked with making tough calls that may not always be popular. But a successful leader can make these decisions with confidence, transparency, and consideration for all parties involved.


Successful leaders are passionate about their work and industry. This passion fuels their drive to succeed and inspires those around them to do the same. Passion is contagious, and leaders must emit joy and drive into everything they do. Also, to get others to be bought in, leaders must have an unremitting devotion to the things they want to see happen.

What are the Signs of Unsuccessful Leaders?

It can be hard to admit you are not making the grade as a leader. However, there are some clear indicators that you need to change your leadership approach.

  1. The team is disengaged. There’s nothing worse than having to be in charge of a team that goes through the motions. Many people in leadership roles neglect to self-assess how they could be causing the issue.
  2. Low performance. If your team has a pattern of never hitting the goal, it’s a sign of poor leadership. Of course, there will be times when you fail to meet expectations, but successful leaders can learn from these mistakes and drive the team toward success in the future.
  3. No trust or respect from employees. Successful leaders earn the trust and respect of their employees by continuously proving themselves as a reliable, capable leader. Failure to do so can lead to a lack of motivation and poor performance among team members.
  4. Your team is stagnant. Leaders cultivate others into higher positions with more responsibility. If there are limited opportunities for growth and a high turnover rate, you’ll need to reassess what you can do as a leader to help the cause.

How to Lead Successfully

Leading others is truly a science. There are no definitive steps or one-size-fits-all approach to being successful, but there are actions you can take to improve your leadership skills.


Continuous self-improvement is critical. Constantly seeking education and training opportunities and feedback from peers and employees will help you stay ahead of the game as a leader.

Lead with Morals and Integrity

Influential leaders are trustworthy, and others constantly evaluate your words and actions. Staying true to your morals and values will not only earn the respect of others but also allow for better decision-making in challenging situations.

Motivate and Inspire

Leaders must have the ability to inspire their team towards a common goal. This may involve offering encouragement, empowerment, and recognition for a job well done.

Stay Consistent

The best leaders are obsessed with organization and consistency. They understand the importance of maintaining a sense of stability and predictability, which ultimately results in higher productivity and better performance.

Be Transparent

Honest and transparent feedback is the best way to ensure you are respected as a leader. Allow for open communication and maintain transparency with employees, especially in tough situations. Unclear direction leaves people confused and disengaged.

Get to Know Your Team

The most outstanding leaders take time to build lasting relationships with people. This means learning about their interests, strengths, weaknesses, and goals. When employees feel understood and valued, they are more likely to trust their leader and be motivated to succeed. Take the time to do fun team building activities that have nothing to do with work.

Embrace Change

Successful leaders understand that change is inevitable and necessary for growth. They don’t resist new ideas or challenges but embrace them as opportunities. Also, those changes can be communicated to the team in the same fashion.

The Power of Positivity

One nonnegotiable successful leaders all hold in common is their positive outlook. A positive attitude not only benefits the leader but also sets the tone for the team. Positivity can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving, increased productivity, and improved colleague relationships. Positivity is needed, even when things look bleak. Your demeanor and attitude could carry employees through the toughest of circumstances.

Show Versus Tell

Successful leaders are not afraid to get into the trenches with their teams. Take the time to train and coach how to do a task rather than just delegating it. Showing your team that you are willing to get your hands dirty and work alongside them builds trust and respect. It also shows you are humble enough to do what it takes to succeed.

Start Your Path To Successful Leadership

Becoming a successful leader is not always easy, but you can begin by making a significant impact with dedication and effort. Remember to stay true to yourself and continually seek opportunities for growth and improvement. Soon, you’ll become the influential and motivational leader you always envisioned.

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Albert, as Editor-in-Chief of, emphasizes practical and real-world business insights, covering growth strategies and marketing innovations. His expertise shines through in the site's content, which blends thorough analysis with actionable advice, establishing as a go-to source for professionals and enthusiasts.

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