5 Essential Rules Of Being A Great Leader

1. Expand Your Vision. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you rather expect too much than expect too little? A small vision of what’s possible limits you AND your team. When Daniel Burnham famously said, “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood,” he was pointing out that the size of the motivation is directly proportional to the size of the leader’s expectation. Little visions create little motivation. 

No leader wants to think unrealistically, but I believe more leaders are limited by their thinking too small than by overreaching. My friend Erwin McManus says it well: If you’re big enough for your dream, your dream isn’t big enough for you. 

2. Invest In Learning.  The wider your intellectual bandwidth, the greater your leadership potential. Ideas and the ability to act upon them are the fuel of those who lead large. What one skill, if you mastered it, would create the greatest payoff in your life? What does your team most need to learn to power up its performance? What original sources of information and ideas can you find to get you out of the mainstream of common thought that produces only common results? 

3. Narrow Your Focus.  No matter how big the vision, you can only truly concentrate on one important thing at a time. Distraction is a killer of accomplishment. The danger isn’t just in trying to do too much, but in trying to do too much at one time. Rid yourself of the obsession to do the trite, easy, and expedient. Instead, focus on those activities, relationships, and events that will move you most quickly to achieving your vision. 

4. Upgrade Your Team. Leaders frequently quote Proverbs: Without a vision, the people perish. Less often considered is that without people, the vision perishes. You will be as successful as the people who work with you. Have you surrounded yourself with the right people? Are they clear on the vision? Have you created a shared focus for each team member so he or she isn’t wasting time on the insignificant? As a leader, you need to be able to make tough calls and cut underperformers from the team. 

5. Enjoy The Process—Good And Bad. If you’re not having fun in achieving your goals, those around you probably aren’t either. Remember, you can’t get “inspired” results from “uninspired” people—so it’s critical that you maintain a positive, enthusiastic outlook and focus on you and your team’s strengths, opportunities, and the people who matter to prevent you from burning out.   

Author: Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE,  is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international best-selling author and noted authority on leadership, team-building, customer service, and change. Mark is the author of eight books, including the bestseller The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, which has sold more than 1.6 million copies internationally. Learn more about Mark at www.marksanborn.com  

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