What Makes a Successful Leader?


When considering what makes a good leader, it can sometimes be helpful to think about why a leader isn’t successful. Generally, this can be traced back to a lack of focus. Perhaps they don’t know which direction they need to take the business in, or maybe they have a destination in mind, but no idea how to achieve their goals. Either way, such leaders are bound to waste both money and resources, not to mention hold back their organisation. 

So why do some leaders lack focus or clarity? Perhaps the main reason is a lack of questioning. It can be fairly common to simply run a business as usual, never questioning if things can be done better. Particularly if the company is making a profit. Some people don’t attempt to look at things with a fresh perspective, so simply stay on the same course, for years on end. 

Another reason as to why certain leaders lack clarity is because they never had a vision in the first place. They may have inherited an unclear path, or might be more concerned with the day-to-day running of the business than with an overarching vision. And if they did have a goal, such leaders can get distracted by problems, and veer off course.

Great leaders are intentional – they are clear about what they want to achieve, and take the right steps to meet their goals. We’ve explored what makes a successful leader in more detail below:

How to Spot a Leader Without Clarity

There are a few common signs when it comes to spotting a leader who lacks focus. They may be constantly changing the direction they think the business should take, for instance, or be generally inconsistent in their behaviour. 

Other traits of a leader without clarity include a lack of momentum, from the leader themselves as well as the business as a whole. And if you look at the staff, you may find that there is frustration at every level of the business, as employees are unsure what they’re doing or what the end goal is. Team members will often be asking why they are performing certain tasks, as they don’t know what the vision of the company is.

Becoming a Successful Leader

In order to succeed as a leader, you obviously need an end goal or vision. But that won’t be enough. There are three other areas you need to focus on – finding inspiration, generating positive emotions, and creating an enviable business culture. 

Find Inspiration

Inspiration can seem like an elusive concept, but it’s not that complicated. It’s about understanding why you need to do something, and truly believing the reasoning. Essentially, inspiration is about making the connection between meaning and motives. 

Inspiration isn’t usually found through outside sources – it’s generally up to the leadership team to inspire their staff. They need to demonstrate the importance and impact of the work being undertaken, and lead by example.

Nurture Positive Emotions

Many of us will make decisions based on our emotions. The customer experience, in terms of their emotional response, is therefore critical. Not enough companies tailor their design concept and delivery to the emotions of their customers, so are perhaps not as successful as they could be.

You also need to nurture positive emotions in your employees. They need to be excited to come to work each day, in order to reach their full potential. Talk to your staff, and find out ways you can boost their mood at work.

Develop Your Culture 

Creating a great workplace culture is something that many businesses fail to achieve. Culture is about the way we think, which in turn can influence what we do, and what we end up accomplishing.

By default, every company has some type of culture, which can be good, bad, or neutral. When we discuss culture from a leadership perspective though, we’re discussing a culture by design – one you have crafted and shaped. A great leader can develop a fantastic workplace culture, by attracting the right people and inspiring these people through their actions.

The Bottom Line

While the three concepts above may sound pretty straightforward, it can take some time to properly implement them. Becoming a successful leader is all about development though, so don’t worry if you’re making slow progress. Any forward movement can be a win, as long as you keep your eye on the main vision of the organisation. 

To keep things simple, let’s look at three things you can do in order to succeed as a leader. First, you need to focus on building a culture that empowers people to get the right result, moving forward towards your end goal. Secondly, consider whether your products or services inspire positive emotions. Do they solve a problem, and if so, will that bring relief or happiness? Lastly, you need to ensure that your employees are inspired. You can do this by giving them a sense of purpose, and providing them with motivation to succeed.

Leadership can be challenging, but as with many things in life, if you have a solid plan, you are almost guaranteed to succeed! Think about your goals, and then make sure you have put measures in place to reach these goals.


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