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The Habits That Set Great Leaders Apart: 20 Practices to Adopt Today

Updated: Apr 19

Great leaders have habits that contribute to their success. This certainly doesn't make them supermen. They simply set their priorities differently when it comes to their habits. Below are the 20 habits and qualities that the most successful and effective leaders cherish.

1. Listen as a form of respect

Most people can hear what someone is saying, but it is an art to be able to listen carefully to what is being said. Giving the feeling that you understand what someone wants to say is a form of respect that any good leader masters.

They make sincere time for someone and make no distinction between the intelligence, education, knowledge, or skill of one person or the other. Everyone is of equal value and everyone has something meaningful to say.

2. Understand before you want to be understood

As a leader of a group of people or a company you first want to understand what a subject is about. Good leaders, therefore, like to be well-informed before they form an opinion.

Only when they understand everything and everyone else do they substantiate their opinion and would like to be understood.

3. Speak the language of the listener

Competent leaders speak the language of their audience. They do this by adapting their choice of words, the pace of their speech, and the type of subjects they address to the person or group they are speaking to.

This gives them a sense of togetherness and understanding.

4. Learn and keep learning

Every human being develops every day. Sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. What effective leaders like to do is develop themselves as broadly and deeply as possible. They are not just interested, they are extremely curious.

One leader, therefore, takes courses and another devours a few books a month. Leaders want to know everything about everything and save effort for that. They love exact science, philosophy, and psychology. They see the brain as a muscle that you have to train every day to stay fit.

5. Dare to make many mistakes

For some, making a mistake is a personal failure and for others, it is something you try to prevent. Good and effective leaders have the quality to make a lot of mistakes.

For effective leaders, mistakes are the result of an experiment from which you either learn a lot or from which you could have achieved something great. Making mistakes is an inescapable effect of trying a lot and creativity.

6. Tackle a problem at the root

The focus of good leaders is always on the cause and never on the consequence. They want to make a change at the source and deal with the symptoms as little as possible. They start at the root of the problem so that weeds can no longer grow.

7. Keep essentials and side issues separate

Main issues can be divided into many small and even smaller side issues. You can talk about this for hours and even days. Effective leaders rarely concern themselves with side issues and details. They deal with the essentials and delegate the side issues.

8. Cherish a healthy body and a healthy mind

When it comes to a healthy body and a healthy mind, more is needed than enough exercise. Good leaders take good care of themselves by eating healthily and regularly, taking a rest, and getting enough sleep.

A sport and a hobby provide relaxation and most leaders do meditation or yoga to keep their body and mind young.

9. Live lovingly and in harmony

Family, friends, and nature are important for good leaders. They realize that people with a high-quality social network are healthier and live longer. Nature is a place where they can relax and an important legacy for future generations.

What effective and good leaders are extremely adept at is channeling their energy. They spend their energy purposefully and consciously. They do the same with their words so that they do not consciously hurt anyone.

10. Passion is more important than money

Leaders always have a passion. Making money for them is a result of being busy with what you are passionate about. They realize that it's not money that makes you happy, but your own passion.

Passion also ensures that effective leaders do nothing without a reason. Behind everything they do is the answer to a why question. They are intrinsically driven by the big why question and come to action when the answer is given.

11. Be generous and merciful

Those who cannot share, cannot multiply. Good leaders understand this and realize that they live in a world where not everyone has it equally well. That is why they give generously and gladly. They are merciful to whoever needs it and do not look at origin, religion, or gender.

They know deep down that we are a society where caring is the foundation of our survival.

12. Forgive often and quickly

You can't forgive often and quickly enough, otherwise, emotions will continue to haunt you. Leaders, therefore, like to forgive. They are tolerant towards themselves and realize that this implies that you also have to be tolerant towards someone else.

Forgiving to say sorry to someone makes way for love and positive energy. No one is faultless so why should you become or stay angry with someone? Forgiveness and making your life light is a motto that good leaders use to achieve success. It helps them to manage their emotional state.

13. Authenticity makes you human

Without authenticity, we are all exactly the same without ever having been alive. Good and effective leaders do not hesitate to be themselves without hurting others. They believe they are entitled to their own opinions, ways of being, and beliefs.

Opinions and behaviors of others are already there, so why not just be your authentic self? They avoid displaying desired behavior without wanting it themselves but can adapt like a chameleon when circumstances demand it. Of course, they can do so without performing on stage.

14. Take responsibility

Good and effective leaders are not about who was or should have been responsible, but about who takes responsibility. That is why leaders always take responsibility for causes and consequences.

If something goes wrong, they want to solve it and if something can be done, they take action. Leadership is also a form of doing, but above all of taking responsibility. It's also about letting go for the better.

15. Give credit to others

Together you achieve more and a result is usually the result of the commitment and creativity of many. That's why good leaders like to give compliments and credit to others.

They have enough self-confidence and self-esteem not to need this themselves. They are grateful for what others have done and like to express this.

16. Bring people together

Bringing people together and connecting them is second nature to leaders. Even when people are very different in their opinions or culture, a leader knows how to connect people.

The best leaders believe that nothing is going to shine without rubbing and that together you can achieve more than on your own. Without any interest, a leader will bring people together who can benefit from each other. Not because they have to, but because they can and at times it can lead to wonderful collaborations.

17. Stay playful and energetic

Good leaders are good with children because they have not forgotten to be playful. They believe that playfulness is part of life and that playfulness leads to creativity.

They can be serious about anything, but when is there time for relaxation and fun?

Playfulness makes things light and cheerful and creates harmony. Playfulness is a moment for leaders to enjoy life as it is. Just as it is for children in a schoolyard. It gives them energy by being energetic.

18. Take responsibility for your own discipline

Discipline is not about complete control for effective leaders. It is about doing nothing that is bad for yourself or anyone else. Certainly not to an exaggerated extent when it comes to alcohol, smoking, or eating unhealthy foods.

Leaders may love a cigar or a good glass of wine and may even get drunk once. What they will leave behind is to make a habit of this without discipline.

19. Take care of yourself, but don't exaggerate

Of course, as a human being, you want to be clean and neat. There is nothing wrong with that and will certainly be appreciated by those around you. But paying exaggerated attention to outward appearance or appearance care a leader will omit.

Too much care and outward appearance take the time that a leader would rather spend on things that make a difference for the world. Leaders would rather take care of others than themselves, without neglecting themselves.

20. Be economical, but not stingy

Leaders also love beautiful things and good food. That may even cost a fortune. What good and effective leaders will not do is just throw money around. What they also don't do is save to save or spend nothing to lose nothing.

Money is there to spend but in a conscious way. Luxury is there to buy, but decadence is spending your money in a nonsensical way.

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