8 Things Every Great Leader Masters

rebecca-headshot-roundThis article is by Rebecca Livermore. Rebecca is the content manager here at PatrickBetDavid.com and the owner of Professional Content Creation. She's also the author of The Blogger's Quick Guide to Working with a Team.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned leader, mastering these eight things will put you on the road to success.

8 things every great leader masters

1. Meetings


There's one thing that I don't miss about working in a traditional office - meetings. At times I spent so much time in meetings, I didn't have much time to implement on action points brought up in meetings. But meetings do matter. They can be important and even helpful. It all depends on how they're conducted.

In this article published on Office.com, according to a study done by Verizon,

over 90 percent of meeting-goers admitted to daydreaming, missing entire meetings, or parts of meetings, while 70 percent said they have brought other work to meetings. It’s obvious the meeting as we know it needs a change. Imagine the new productivity we could unearth if we redefined the concept of the meeting as a whole.

That's the rub. Meetings are great, except when they're not. The article goes on to state that 28% of managers feel that meetings are a waste of time.

As a leader, it's up to you to master meetings so that they accomplish what is needed, with no time wasted. You can read the article here for more insight.

2. Communication


Words are powerful. Battles have been fought and won over words, and carelessly chosen words often do more harm than good. That's why the mastery of communication is important for every leader.

Here's a quote that nicely sums up the issue:

Poor choices of words, especially coming from company leaders, can affect employee morale, productivity and health.

This article published on Entrepreneur.com provides three scenarios that illustrate the above quote.

It also gives the following three tips for communicating well:

  • Be attentive and respectful.
  • No matter how stressed you are, don’t explode over every mistake.
  • Use positive language even in a negative situation.

You can read the entire article here.

Every Great Leader Masters Writing

When it comes to communication, like it or not, much of our communication nowadays is written. Whether through texting, social media posts, or email, most of us write a lot. Every. Single. Day. Now this doesn't mean that you have to pen words that will stun and impress the masses. But it does mean that mastering written communication to the degree that you communicate your thoughts effectively is an important skill for every great leader.

According to this article on Inc.com, your writing isn't as good as you think it is, but there are easy ways to improve it. Here are some of the tips:

  • Challenge yourself to be more concise.
  • Identify your bad habits.
  • Pair up with another writer.
  • Build disciplined feedback into writing processes.

You can read the entire article here.

3. Thoughts


Have you ever noticed that thoughts often impact us as much or more than actual events? Thoughts often keep us up at night, distract us from getting things done, and often get in the way of the very actions that will move things forward.

This article published on Inc.com lists six things that strong leaders do that weak leaders don't. One of the points is that strong leaders control their thoughts. Here's that specific point:

The fears and anxieties that we face as founders can constantly stir up a host of emotions. Disciplined leaders know how to control and quiet their thoughts. They harness their power of mind to manage what they can, and then let go of what they can't control. They also know how to think analytically as well as creatively, striking the right balance between innovation and accountability.

You can read the entire article here.

When it comes to mastering thoughts, this article published on Business Insider provides an excellent list of 13 things that mentally strong leaders do.

4. Listening


Are you a great listener? If you want to be a great leader, listening is a skill you definitely need to master. Being a good listener isn't easy; leaders are often so obsessed with their own thoughts, it can be difficult to shut them down long enough to hear what someone else is really saying.

This article on Addicted2Success provides the following five listening skills that every great leader masters:

  • Making eye contact
  • Asking only one question at a time
  • Paying attention
  • Not making assumptions
  • Keeping quiet

You can read the entire article here.

This article published on Entrepreneur.com provides three additional listening tips that help to round out the advice given in the previous article:

  • Use written notes to follow up on conversations.
  • Take cues from women on dealing with emotion.
  • Involve everyone in the conversation.

I especially love the first tip. Taking notes during a conversation, or jotting some things down immediately after a conversation helps me remember what was talked about better than if I don't write anything down. It also gives me something to refer back to if I'm unsure of the details later. To help keep everyone on the same page, you may also want to send a recap of the conversation to those involved, which will help clear up any misunderstandings that may have occurred during the conversation.

5. Outsourcing


This article published on Addicted2Success actually gives nine habits of effective leaders, with one of the nine being outsourcing. Here's what it has to say on the topic:

Leader’s know that they are only one person and can’t do all of the “doing.” That’s why they almost never do anything themselves, and that’s the best decision they’ve made since they became a leader. They concentrate on what they do best which is leading people and getting the best out of them.

A huge mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs make is trying to do everything themselves. That's the quickest road to nowhere. But outsourcing and leading a team isn't always easy. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's a skill you can master. Here are some additional articles that will point you in the right direction:

Why Teamwork Matters at Every Level

My favorite point in this article is "encourage solutions-oriented thinking." Every business, every team, faces challenges. When challenges come, people can become overcome with negativity or they can immediately shift into problem solving mode. As a leader, you can encourage the latter. You can read the entire article here.

Prepare Now so Your Team Can Enjoy the Holidays and Still Be Productive

There are certain times a year when your team members will likely be more distracted. The holiday season is a prime example. At first glance, one of the suggestions in this article published on Entrepreneur.com seemed off, but after thinking on it for a moment, I could see how it could be effective. Here's the suggestion: "Indulge employee distractions and foster fun."

Perhaps your initial reaction is similar to mine -- picturing everyone goofing off, accomplishing nothing. But the idea with this point is to provide some designated goof off time, such as an hour of online shopping on Black Friday. The intent is to keep the distraction to a short period of time, which could potentially lead to more, not less productivity. You can read the rest of the points here.

How to Find Your Best Employees and Keep Them Around

On thing that I love about this article published on Entrepreneur.com is that it first of all provides a list of attributes of good team members. Then, in addition to that, it provides some great tips on how to get the best work out of your team members. I loved one tip on having team members share what they plan to accomplish each week, and then evaluate what work actually gets done. A great point was that often the most productive team members fail to get everything on their list done. While that can be a sign of laziness, it's more often a sign of ambition. There are tips for how to deal with that, and more, in this article.

6. Time


Time is one of the most important things great leaders master. If you don't master your time, regardless of how hard you work and how hard you work your team, you'll be in a constant state of chaos. For many great leaders, getting up early is a key element when it comes to getting the most important things done first. This article published on Business Insider looks at 23 successful people who get up super early.

The question you may have is what you should do with your time when you get up early. There's no real point in getting up early and then frittering your time away doing something unproductive. This article and video from our archives will give you a lot of great ideas for creating your own morning rituals:

Morning Rituals of an Entrepreneur

7. Email


What's your email inbox look like right now? I wish I could say that mine is inbox zero, as that's a message I preach. But the truth is, I'm looking at 97 unread emails. My guess is that some of you reading this have a lot more than that. If you're nodding your head right now, check out this article published on Business Insider A CEO who was drowning in hundreds of emails per day explains his favorite trick to get them under control. His trick?

Starting late last year, Tom set up an automatic message to people that told them he wouldn't be checking email from the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m

This is such a simple thing. It may seem like this isn't a secret at all, and that he'd just have a ton of email to deal with at the end of each day. While that may be true, it enables him to focus on more important tasks throughout the day, with fewer interruptions. Another plus is that since he doesn't respond right away, many team members solve their own problems while they're waiting for his response. Using an automated response to notify people of his policies reassures people that their message has been received, and that he'll get back to them in due time.

8. Wisdom


I left wisdom for last because it impacts everything else. While I focused on things every great leader masters, I don't believe that you can ever master wisdom; it's a lifelong pursuit.

While there are many ways to pursue wisdom, this article published on Entrepreneur.com gives us the "why" for accumulating wisdom:

Wisdom guides our thinking, attitude and overall mindset. It pushes us to break through boundaries, and to see beyond the obvious. It directs our personal reinvention and impacts how our leadership influences everything and everyone we come into contact with each day.

The article provides the following three ways to pursue wisdom:

  • Reciprocity
  • Risk
  • Respect

Wisdom is so vital to true success, but I hear few entrepreneurs talking about it. You can read the entire article here.

Your Turn

What's the number one skill that you think every great leader must master? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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