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25 Habits of Highly Successful and Effective Leaders

Leadership habits are behaviors that executives, entrepreneurs, and other leaders use to effectively lead their teams. However, not all habits are equally beneficial.

Successful leaders find ways to incorporate as many healthy and beneficial habits into their daily lives. They listen to their teams, plan ahead, and adapt easily, for instance.

On the other hand, it is easy to fall into the trap of using poor habits daily. Certain leaders choose to always go with the popular decision, avoid making tough decisions, and ineffectively delegate tasks.

These habits diminish the chance of success for anyone. By avoiding these bad habits and utilizing specific beneficial ones, you can avoid the many mistakes ineffective leaders make.

In this article, we will provide you with the top habits seasoned leaders have and how you can implement them into your business.

25 Habits of Highly Successful and Effective Leaders

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What are Important Habits of Quality Leadership?

Leaders in different fields require different skill sets and habits to become exceptional leaders.

For instance, taking the time to carefully select your clothing may be beneficial to the owner of a clothing company but not so important for a remote leader.

In general, leadership habits are simply repeated behaviors that are done by any leader.

However, for them to be beneficial leadership habits, you should be able to measure how the new habit positively impacts your business or team.

You can see the top leadership habit list below for additional information.

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25 Habits for Effective & Successful Leaders

The most brilliant leaders across the world tend to use similar habits. These habits help increase the odds of long-term sustainable success.

They help individuals effectively communicate with their team, make a good first impression, boost productivity, and so on.

A few of these top habits include:

1. Giving recognition to hard workers and praise people

Recognition is something nearly all people crave. We want to be appreciated for our hard work. The same is true with employees.

When bosses leave hard workers in the shadows, they become less likely to perform well again. Individuals feel unnoticed and unappreciated if their work is never acknowledged.

In fact, according to a Harris poll, 63% of employees state their bosses did not recognize their efforts enough.

Simply acknowledging someone’s effort could motivate them to achieve far more than you think.

2. Practice active listening

If you wish to be an effective leader, ask for input from your team. You will gain immense insights when doing so.

This includes a better understanding of workplace culture, employee relationships, employee goals, strengths as well as weaknesses of your team, and even more.

You can also understand if your leadership style is well suited to your employees.

Active listening also makes employees feel listened to and valued. They are acknowledged as an important member of the company when this occurs. Encourage team building by listening to employees.

3. Be decisive

Be a confident leader. Do not shy away from making tough choices. Quickly gather as much information as you need. Effectively process it and formulate an action plan.

Then, act on that plan. Try not to back away from your initial decision unless it truly need to be reconsidered.

Remember that as the leader, you have an ultimate say on any decision. If you see some employees are continuously performing poorly, speak honestly to them.

If the behavior continues, realize it is best to terminate them. Decisions like these may cause some tension in the team, but they are necessary for your long term success.

4. Be confident in yourself and your team

Your confidence and mannerisms could be reciprocated by employees. After all, you are the example of how to act and make decisions in your company. Ensure that you are confident in your skills.

This is crucial when making quick decisions and building confidence within employees.

Confidence helps leaders make devious more effective. They do not have to constantly second guess themselves, thus slowing the decision-making process.

Plus, confidence helps you remain calm in tough circumstances.

25 Habits for Effective & Successful Leaders

5. Trust your team

You should be equally confident in your team as you are with your abilities. If you let your teamwork effectively without autocratic management, they will continue to work to the best of their ability.

Create a balance of laissez-faire and authoritarian leadership styles. Give your team freedom to show you trust them. However, ensure that the work always gets done.

The more your team proves they are effective workers, the more autonomy you should give them. Ensure you trust all your team members.

You cannot have untrustworthy employees, especially if you are a new business owner.

6. Display your integrity

Use the golden rule of treating others the way you wish to be treated. Be understanding, kind, motivating, honest, and fair in any circumstances.

As previously mentioned, the leader serves as an example to the entire company. Employees are likely to copy the behavior they see from you.

Consider whether or not you want dishonest, unfair, and mean employees. If you do not want that, do not expose them to negative habits and behaviors.

7. Be an optimist

In business, there seems to be always something to be pessimistic about. However, you do not have to use that mindset. Optimism is a mind-frame that helps you stay hopeful about the future.

It is about bringing out the best in your employees and looking at the bright side of every situation. Even when faced with a potentially tough time, find the best at that moment.

When your employees start to doubt or become negative, do not give up on positivity. Motivate them with your positive outlook on the company’s future and encourage them to keep moving forward.

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8. Build a positive and encouraging work environment

Many businesses face the issue of dealing with negative employees, pettiness, cliques, and negativity. Ensure all your employees are aware that you do not tolerate that type of behavior.

Motivate your employees daily to maintain a positive outlook and keep working hard. Encourage employees to motivate and mentor other employees.

There are many benefits to having such a work environment. For instance, employees feel more comfortable sharing their ideas. They are also more likely to be optimistic and productive.

9. Adapt quickly

Effective leadership involves molding your leadership approach to match your team. However, since your team usually changes, your leadership approach will have to change as well.

Adapting is equally important when being faced with a rapidly changing competitive environment.

If your competitor produces a prototype quicker than you, you may have to change your action plan to catch up to them.

If you remain flexible and open-minded, you will see that finding and fixing problems becomes much simpler.

10. Provide employees the tools they need to succeed

Recognize that all your employees are unique. While some need to be monitored quite closely and need mentorship, others thrive when working independently. It is your job to pay attention to such details.

Since all your employees are unique, they also have unique needs. To employees that need little instruction, you may only need to give a few short commands or a to-do list.

If another employee needs an in-depth review of the procedure, give it to them. You have to adapt your delegating process to the type of employee you are speaking with.

25 Habits for Effective & Successful Leader

11. Read daily

Many successful leaders and entrepreneurs realize the importance of reading.

These benefits include:

  • Potentially raising IQ
  • Improving attention span
  • Making your mind clearer
  • Reducing stress
  • Making you more knowledgeable
  • Growing your vocabulary
  • Improving long and short-term memory
  • Helping you practice your reasoning skills
  • Indirectly improving your writing skills
  • Helps you rewind

An effective leader never turns down the opportunity to learn. Reading exposes you to new ideas you can use in your business.

You can learn about never strategies to use. Plus, a sharp mind and lengthy knowledge base help you network effectively and make decisions better.

12. Focus on the most challenging tasks

Challenges bring out the best of exceptional leaders. If you constantly expose yourself to challenges, you will further develop your strengths and become more confident.

However, challenges are not just beneficial for strength development. It also reminds you that you have girt and stamina.

There are key differences between strength-building challenges and potentially disastrous challenges. Ensure you feel confident and ready to tackle the challenge before you commit.

Tackle the most challenging tasks first to ensure they are done, for they are often the most crucial for team success.

13. Prioritize your health and well-being

Any effective leader knows the importance of staying healthy. They focus on all four categories of health: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

The first pillar of health, and the one that serves as a foundation for all the other types, is physical health. Without physical health, your other health categories also suffer.

Ensure that you have an exercise routine that you commit to. Eat a healthy diet, sleep for at least 8 hours a day, and take supplements if you need them.

14. Learn from those you admire

It is easy to become overly critical as a leader. After all, perfection is often stressed in business. To avoid falling into the trap of negative thinking, have an inspiration figure you look up to as a mentor.

These individuals can help you make decisions when you are stressed. This advice can help you mentally recharge.

Then, you can reapproach the issue with a clearer mind and your mentor’s advice guiding you. Even the most seasoned leaders understand that they can benefit from having a mentor support them.

15. Plan each day in advance

Ineffective leaders are often too focused on the present to consider the future. This lack of clarity diminishes their odds of success. However, strong leaders make time to plan, no matter how busy they are.

This helps strong leaders avoid focusing on the wrong tasks or spending too much time on any given activity. They also recognize which tasks should be prioritized and quickly tackle them first.

Planning your day the night before sets you up for an organized and productive workday. You will be able to achieve more in less time when compared to non-planners.

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16. Remind yourself of your goals

Some leaders have the habit of writing down their goals daily. For their long-term goals, they continue to write these down for long periods of time. Others, though, prefer to read their goals to themselves daily.

Regardless, reminding yourself of your goals daily helps keep you motivated and focused.

Essentially, these activities help you reevaluate whether you are on the right track to fulfill your goals. Without such reminders, you can easily lose track of your aspirations.

When focusing on goals becomes a habit, it becomes more natural to work on them throughout the day.

This habit motivates you, makes you feel amazing when you accomplish a goal, and ensure you never lose track of your aspirations.

17. Prioritize action, even when it is challenging

Individuals tend to stay within their comfort zone, for venturing outside it is often scary. The benefit of the status quo is predictability and comfort.

However, venturing outside it brings about opportunity to grow and achieve more. You decide whether it’s worth being scared for.

Many of the best leaders choose to tackle the status quo. The most growth occurs when tackling new and unknown challenges. Fear and uncertainty can hold you back from achieving your dreams.

Do not let that happen, for this leads to long-term unfulfillment. Make actionable risk-taking a priority. Even if you do not succeed, you can learn far more than by staying in your comfort zone.

18. Have a motivating and powerful reason behind your leadership

What do you truly want to achieve in life? Often, the daily hustle and bustle blur a leader’s purpose. If you focus too much on the details, you may ignore the big picture and head down the wrong path.

Consider whether your goals align with your major life purpose. If they do not, prioritizing them over the big picture may lead to unsatisfactory outcomes.

If you remind yourself why you are a leader, working becomes more enjoyable and fulfilling.

19. Respond instead of reacting

High EQs, or emotional intelligence, is key trait of many leaders. They realize that emotional responses are not usually the best way to make decisions.

Such leaders keep their emotions in check so they do not interfere with rational decision-making. They gather all the information they can, consult with others, and devise an actionable plan.

20. Focus on moving forward, not finding someone to blame

Blaming customers or employees does nothing to overcome issues. It does, however, hurt employees. No business issue should be dealt with by immediately placing blame on someone.

It only divides your team, creates tension, and decreases efficiency as well as positivity. The best leaders seek to solve the problem first.

Then, they search for the root cause of the issue to ensure it never occurs again. Remember that your clients likely do not care about who caused the issue. All they want is the problem to be solved.

25 Habit for Effective & Successful Leaders

21. Hire top-quality candidates

It is commonly assumed that to be a good leader, you must be the best person on the team. However, the best leaders know leadership is about creating the best team possible.

Because of this, they hire high-quality candidates. They are not afraid of hiring people who are more skillful than they are.

In fact, they love having experts on their team that they look to for advice. Being the best at everything is simply not possible, so they hire as many smart and skill-diverse people as they can.

Hiring smart people early on is the key to building a good team.

22. Focus on long-term success

Quick wins play a role in motivating a team. They are stepping stones toward achieving the larger goal and show your team they are capable of achieving success.

However, the most important success occurs when it is sustainable for long periods of time. This requires significantly more time, effort, and planning, but it is worth it in the end.

This is especially proven by the fact many companies continue being successful after great leaders retire.

23. Get along with your team

Leaders have to make the most out of the resources they have. They must also bring out the best in their team.

To do this, they should have strong motivating skills, relationship-building skills, and be able to work well with others. Top leaders know how to leverage their network to their advantage.

They help others to ensure those individuals will be there to support them in times of need.

24. Share credit

Leaders do play a crucial role in their team’s success. They create overall goals, delegate, and define strategies. However, the team is the one who takes these directions and establishes success.

The teams take the leader’s dreams and make them realities. Because of this, the leader gives an immense amount of credit to their team.

You do not have to take credit away from your team to receive it. Letting your team take some credit is as important as praising them.

25. Stay focused on your goals

Do not overprioritize everything. When everything is a priority, nothing is. The best leaders know how to rank tasks in order of urgency and importance.

They help their team stay focused on mutually agreed-upon goals, avoid distraction, and plan effectively. Remember: if the leader gets off tasked and unfocused, so will the team.

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What are Unconscious Leadership Habits?

Leadership habits are repeated behaviors that executives, entrepreneurs, or leaders perform. They become unconscious when leaders do not think about performing these behaviors.

They can be instinctual or learned. Many individuals develop unconscious habits when their mind goes on “auto-pilot.” They lose focus on their habits, for instance.

Or, unconscious habits could develop in a positive manner. If you repeatedly perform good tasks, they may develop into positive habits.

If you do the, for a long period of time, you will stop thinking about performing these tasks and simply automatically do them.

What are Unconscious Leadership Habits

How to Change and Improve Leadership Habits

Virtually everyone has bad habits. It is crucial to overcome them and replace them with positive habits.

Old habits are especially difficult to break, since they are related for long periods of time and become engrained in one’s mind. However, overcoming bad habits is possible if you use the right strategies.

Start by identifying your bad habits. Identify why you use it daily.

Has it become a part of your personality? Are you afraid to try new leadership styles or strategies? Do you not trust your team?

There is always a root cause for a bad leadership habit. Identify it before moving on.

Next, you must create an environment where you can use new good habits and avoid the prior bad habits. Do this by asking your team to keep you accountable.

Ensure everyone feels comfortable with giving you feedback and critiquing your communication, delegation, motivation, and so on.

Having a mentor help you use this new habit can also be beneficial. They can motivate you to keep trying even when your mind wants to resort to bad habit.

This process will take time and trial with error. Continue to adapt and stay flexible according to your mentor and team’s feedback. Over time, you will establish a new good habit and stop using the bad habit.

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5 Best Books for Effective Leadership

Reading is a fantastic way to expand your vocabulary, improve your writing skills, and broaden your knowledge base. It also exposes you to new leadership strategies and delegation styles.

Some of the best leaders believe reading is the best way to advance your leadership skills.

These high-quality books include:

1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Jim Collins, also the author of Built to Last researched what makes certain companies succeed. He studied 11 successful companies who made the jump from “good” to “great.”

He explains a number of key leadership principals. This includes information about Level 5 Leaders, Hedgehog Concepts, discipline culture, this book describes the commonly used framework to company success.

2. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee

This is the book that introduced emotional intelligence to the business world. The author explains that the best leaders garner the best out of their employees. They are passionate and inspirational.

Usually, we associate the best leaders with innovative ideas, stellar vision, and brilliant strategies. However, we overlook the emotional aspect of quality leadership.

This novel introduces a step-by-step guide to becoming an emotional intelligent leader. It is perfect for any aspiring leader.

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

One of the most popular books on leadership, Covey’s #1 National best-selling guide offers a detailed, principled, and honest set of steps to tackle both personal and business-related issues.

While it was published in 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change still remains as relevant as ever.

It tackles present-day entrepreneurial challenges far better than many modern-day books. This business classic will inspire you to use habits to your advantage.

4. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

In this other classic management bestseller, Marcus Buckingham explains the results of in-depth studies performed by Gallup.

The data, which was garnered from over 80,000 managers, had some shocking findings.

Even though managers have different goals and leadership styles, they all share one trait: they are not afraid to break the rules.

Throughout this insightful book, you will find important business and team performance lessons that can be applied to any industry and any manager.

5. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton Christensen

The Innovator’s Dilemma proves that even the most focused, driven, and unique businesses can lose market leadership.

There seems to be no way to avoid this plague, but Christensen offers some hope-inducing news.

With the use of his multi-industry study, he developed a new theory (called the seminal theory of disruptive innovation) that can transform the way executives and managers approach innovation.

5 Best Books for Effective Leadership

Bad Leadership Habits

Bad habits can devastate a team and the entrepreneur behind it. These habits are the repeated behaviors a businessman has, which undermines their hard work. They always produce a negative outcome.

Everyone has bad habits. Some of the most common bad leadership habits include:

  • Not setting clear expectations
  • Micromanaging
  • Being unproductive
  • Being a hypocrite
  • Keeping secrets
  • Reacting but not responding
  • Intense risk-taking
  • Blaming others

All of these habits hurt your success as well as your team’s success. You will feel unfulfilled if you continue to use these habits.

Your team may turn against you, become unproductive, disengaged, and/or negative. The goals you set for yourself will be forgotten and the business may fail.

In short, not addressing your bad habits leads to consequences you will regret.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Successful Leadership Habits

What are the 3 most important characteristics of a leader?

Leaders in different industries require different skillsets. Their skillset also depends on the type of team they lead. However, a few characteristics will almost always be beneficial to have as a leader.

Namely, these are empathy, resilience, and vision. Empathy is important to establish good relationships with your employees.

Resilience ensures that you never give. Resilient leaders keep fighting to meet their goals, even when the going gets tough.

Vision helps the leader stay focused and delegate effectively. Visionaries can keep a team motivated and focused as well.

What do leaders lead?

Leaders can lead a number of groups. Usually, the term “leader” refers to someone who leads a team. This can be a manager, who leads a small group of individuals within a certain department.

It could also be an executive, like the CEO. He or she would lead the entire organization, including other managers.

The size of the group does not matter when considering if someone is a leader.

They simply have to have influence over a group.

How can I become a good leader?

Becoming a good leader takes lots of time, effort, and dedication. To become a good leader, consider getting a mentor. They can help you identify the next steps you should take in your leadership journey.

Also, ensure that you take feedback from your team. They have the most information on your leadership strengths and weaknesses.

Try to notice if you have any poor leadership habits.

Additionally, ensure you are empathetic, honest, embrace change, adapt quickly, develop a vision, set clear goals,  and take calculated risks.

What should leaders stop doing?

Leaders should stop micromanaging and setting unnecessary rules. Ensure your employees have space to be creative and feel respected, not treated like someone you do not trust.

The biggest issue most leaders find themselves in is fearing to go outside their comfort zone. Ensure you take logical risks and stop only performing the same routine activities daily.

Also, recognize that all employees need a unique leadership approach tailored to them.

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