How To Be A Leader

Whether you’re the newbie in the office or a seasoned employee with tenure, learning how to be a leader will positively impact your business life in many ways.

Maybe you want to be the boss one day, or maybe you just want to earn respect from your colleagues and clients as a trusted expert. Whatever the case, knowing what makes a good leader and taking time to invest in leadership skills will only serve to benefit you.

If you’re ready to build some fundamental characteristics of a leader, here are tried and true tips to accelerate you on the path towards leadership.

Know your stuff

Have you ever worked under a manager who knew absolutely nothing about your business? It’s difficult to have respect for someone who barks orders but has no real understanding for the work involved.

If you’re looking to take the first step toward becoming a leader in your company, spend time becoming an expert in your craft. Learn the ins and outs of the business; learn about industry trends, competition, and even what will happen in a few years’ time. Don’t just learn these things—immerse yourself in them. Knowledge always leads to success, and people generally like to be around successful people.

One of the strongest characteristics of a leader is how well they know their stuff so they can present to others in a compelling way.

Dedicate time to personal development

In a world littered with negative and unmotivated people, it’s easy to pluck out the ones who are making a cognitive effort to improve themselves.

Personal development can look dramatically different from person to person. Sometimes it’s reading up on what makes a good leader; other times it’s attending classes to sharpen a new skill. Leaders are always looking for ways to grow and expand so they can serve others better.

Be open to criticism – in fact, invite it

No one enjoys being criticized. The truth can hurt sometimes, and a lot of people take criticism as a reason to closet themselves and lick their wounds.

If you’re looking to build strong characteristics of a leader, you have to learn to take criticism and apply it as a life lesson. If you’ve heard the same comments or feedback from multiple people, it’s probably true. Swallow the pill, evaluate your life, and see what you can do to improve it. The more open you are to receiving criticism, the more easily you can navigate it and determine if the comments are true or just fueled by emotion.

Master the art of communication

The ability to communicate is the most notable pillar in what makes a good leader. The flame of leadership can be easily snuffed out if he or she cannot communicate well with their team, friends, and clients.

If you struggle with public speaking but want to know how to be a leader, take time to invest in your communication skills. Learn how to translate your thoughts into words, learn how to listen actively, and learn how to communicate your story. This will not only affect your business in a positive way, but also assist you in your personal life, too.

Build relationships

There’s a construed saying that “it’s lonely at the top,” implying that truly successful people got there without relationships posing distraction.

This may be true if you’re looking to follow the ways of Albert Einstein, but if you’re interested in building the characteristics of a true leader, you need to build life-giving relationships. This applies to all areas of your life, so network with other business leaders across different companies, and surround yourself with positive people in your personal life.

If you lead a team, take time to learn some personal attributions of each one. Any Relationship entails trust, and trust is important in leadership.

Learn to stand your ground

There are very few successful leaders who are pushovers. Being extremely agreeable and allowing others to walk all over you will win you some friends easily, but it will also paint you as weak when push comes to shove.

Knowing how to be a leader is also knowing when to disagree and when to be assertive. There may be momentary heat or disagreement, but leaders are more respected for their difference of opinion; it’s what sets them apart. The teeter-totter of it all is knowing how to be assertive without being a complete jerk, and this is where building effective communication skills comes in handy!

Be a leader, not a boss

The standard business structure includes a manager somewhere in the hierarchy, but holding a leadership role doesn’t automatically make one a leader. True leaders double as role models. Managers may shout orders and crack the whip when things slip up; leaders jump into the mix and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty in order to solve a complex problem

A true characteristic of a leader is the ability to work with a team, show them how you care, and iron out problems together. It’s important to note you don’t have to hold a managerial position to work on your leadership skills; demonstrating leadership among your colleagues will build your credibility and gain you respect.

Be the motivator

Being a positive motivator is inherent in a good leader, whether you’re the one in the fancy office or the one sharing a desk in a cubicle. Being motivational doesn’t mean you’ll never have a bad day (it happens to everyone!); it means you can handle a bad moment without letting it break your determination.

People tire of complainers and negative whiners. Even if it’s the “trend” of the office to act that way, be the person who sees the good traits in others and call them out.


  1. Daniel Connor says:

    Early in my career I always wanted to know how to be an effective leader. I love the be a leader not a boss. I have had a lot of bosses in my day and they they don’t get the respect and they demand respect but don’t earn it.

  2. My last employer was a boss and definitely not a leader. Lots of intimidation going on there. I don’t perform well in that kind of environment.

  3. Lynn Laker says:

    Always lead from the front.

  4. David Hanson says:

    Appreciate the advice!

  5. Taylor McCormick says:

    I can’t tell you how many bad leaders I’ve had that aren’t motivators at all, but instead they are deflators. They take the wind right out your sales when you try and improve or try something new. I wish everyone could read this post.

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