Setup for Success: Becoming a Better Leader Starts From Within / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Is it true that successful leadership consists of failures, hobbies, and less of the internet? You might be surprised to find out.

The names Steve Jobs and Lee Iacocca are synonymous with taking the reigns of a company and turning it around. Better leaders yield better companies. They transform ailing businesses, motivate employees, respond effectively to market changes and stay on top of the ever-shifting business climate. 

Ineffective leaders, on the other hand can run an otherwise healthy organization into the ground. Some statistics suggest that in the first 18 months of being hired, new CEOs fail anywhere between 38 percent and 50 percent of the time. Obviously, nobody anticipates ending up like that, so how do you fine tune your leadership qualities to be a success? 

If you're new to a leadership position or less effective than you'd like to be, here are six ways to propel you in the right direction to germinate success.

Related Article: Keep Leadership Weird!

1. Let Failure Happen

It's often said that good leaders trust their employees, and while this adage is undoubtedly true, "trust" needs to be exercised like the verb that it is. After all, trust that isn't field tested is more akin to good vibes, and no one has ever run a successful business based off of those alone.  

So, take the trust plunge by giving your employees enough free rein to try out new ideas that may or may not work. It's true that some will fail, but some will also succeed. It's only when you are trusting enough to let failure happen that you are also being a leader, well enough to reap success. 

2. Volunteer

Volunteering has such a wide range of benefits for those who participate in it, that it's amazing more people don't take part in some type of volunteer work on a regular basis. For the leader or leader-in-training, it can be cathartic to simply be part of a team where someone else does all the decision-making. 

planting a tree; volunteer work

Beyond offering you a break, however, volunteering can keep you grounded. The needs and trials of the organization you're at the helm of can seem like the most important things in the world. Volunteering can help you remember that the demands of daily life are much more basic and the effects of failure much more dire for many people. It's a perspective that can keep you grounded.

Related Article: 5 Team Building Activities That Don't Suck

3. Get a Hobby

In a similar way to volunteering, getting a hobby can remind you that your life is more than just your job. Work with model trains, go bird watching or anything else that gives you a creative outlet and contributes to exercising different parts of the brain.

This will keep you from taking yourself too seriously and help provide a fresh perspective about what is most important. Having a hobby takes the mind off of anything stressful, which in turn makes you better at your job and more effective as a leader. 

4. Practice Martial Arts

Martial arts have a lot to teach everyone, but leaders will fare especially well with the practice. Besides the health benefits that have been proven to accompany learning and practicing a martial art, it will also improve self-discipline, self-reliance, reduce stress and increase your ability to focus. 

practicing martial arts

Leading a business often involves long hours, so gaining new resources of inner strength and mental clarity will keep your decision-making agile. It's also a great way to blow off steam—no small luxury when you're feeling a lot of job-related stress. 

Related Article: How To Keep Your Employees Happy, Engaged, Productive And Loyal

5. Don't Hide the Truth

Communication is often listed as one of the hallmarks of a great leader, and what you communicate about is important too. It can be tempting to sand the edges of some difficult truths when dealing with your employees or the board. 

When it comes to success as a leader, taking responsibility for any outcome or team results is the only way to be able to fix or change what is not working. Being open to feedback and learning from mistakes can only keep a business moving forward, while avoiding negative patterns or repeat failures.  

6. Get Off the Internet 

The constant Internet-based monitoring that makes up most people's workdays is not conducive to getting any job done well.

Turn off your email program.

Close your laptop.

Grab a notebook and silence the phone.

When it's time to solve problems or generate ideas, the Internet is the last place you need to be directing your attention. Silence and a lack of distractions are the key getting the answers from a deeper level of the mind, which is the greatest resource for any leader.

Becoming a better leader isn't a fluke. It takes directed attention and regular effort. Follow these six tips to become a better leader, and you and your organization will stand an improved shot at success for years to come.

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