107 Leadership Tips for Becoming a Better Leader
How do you become a good leader? What are the characteristics of good and bad leadership? Here you will find the behavioral characteristics of an inspiring leader, so that you can become the ideal leader for your staff. Read on for all the tips…
Tip 1 – Develop steadfastness and courage, based on knowledge of the trade, experience and self-knowledge
Leaders are brave. Nobody benefits from a leader without courage. And that courage can be obtained in a number of ways: knowledge, experience and self-knowledge.
Tip 2 – Make execution a high priority: actually perform something or motivate others to do something
Execution, or action, comes before talk. A leader who just adds more overhead, talk, and policy is of no value at all. Let all your decisions lead to something being done so that new steps are taken towards the goal.
Tip 3 – A good leader is an effective follower himself and does more than is asked
Effective leaders are effective followers. If someone asks you something, you deliver quality, speed and even more than is requested. This makes you an excellent example for when others start to follow you. Read more about follow & lead here.
There is unity now, everyone basically does what I ask. They are not like the Dutch, who when you start breathing already say: yes but …
– Johan Cruijff
Tip 4 – Good leadership? Lead the informal leader first and the rest will follow
You are the official leader, but that does not mean that there are no other leaders besides you. We’re talking about the unofficial, aka informal leaders in the group. These are the people who are followed by the rest of the group. Often this happens unconsciously.
So it is important that you recognize the informal leader. Next, you should focus your most efforts on him / her. For example, build a strong connection with the informal leader. If the informal leader follows you, everyone will automatically follow you.
This is how you recognize the informal leader: listen literally to who takes the lead in group activities and pay close attention to who is listened to the most and in which direction the most heads are when someone is talking.
Train yourself to recognize the informal leaders more often. For example, go to Ikea, the supermarket or a place with many people and observe the informal leader.
Tip 5 – Pay attention to the connection in the group
Here’s a holistic tip: don’t just focus on leading a specific task, but first make sure everyone is aligned. This can be done very simply by having the group do special connection energizers or by simply breathing together.
Tip 6 – Communicate clearly: all your sentences should have one possible interpretation
Learn to communicate clearly. When a leader is not understood or misunderstandings are caused by poor communication, he / she cannot lead at all. Use these 14 tips to be able to communicate more clearly immediately.
Tip 7 – Perform a check (TOTE)
This also has to do with communication. A leader continuously checks with others whether they have understood something correctly. If you have given an assignment, have the other repeat the assignment and have the other tell you what he / she is going to do. This is the TOTE philosophy: Test – Operate – Test – Exit. So check continuously for maximum understanding and clarity.
Tip 8 – Use Parkinson’s Law to get movement in projects
Do you know Parkinson’s law? Suppose you were given 6 months to produce a complete campaign, it would take you all that time to complete that campaign. Suppose you were given 1 month for exactly the same assignment, then you would have succeeded.
Or a simpler example: suppose you still have two months to complete your tax return. Then you could do that next weekend, but for many people it will be the last weekend, or even the last day.
The conclusion? Feel free to set tight deadlines. Then there is a lot of movement in projects.
Tip 9 – Consider using a flat organizational structure (high degree of independence)
What is a flat organization? Suppose you have a hierarchy with five layers in an organization:
- A great boss.
- Three levels of intermediate managers.
- The bottom layer with employees.
Then you flatten this organization by adding fewer levels. In that case, the three intermediate managers could disappear:
- A great boss.
- The bottom layer with employees.
What does that mean? The employees of the bottom layer have to ask less permission and consult less with the intermediate managers who are no longer there. For example, they may know what they are doing, when, how, with whom, and maybe even the task, the time, the technique and the team.
What are examples of this?
- Weekly and daily schedules are made by the staff with minimal delegation from the leaders. In this way, management is actually partly lost and there is a fairly horizontal (flat) organizational structure.
- Added extra freedom to determine the working hours more flexibly and to determine the content of a sprint / project yourself.
- Often the freedom is given to do it the way the employee wants it, as long as it is finished before the deadline or schedule. The employee may, for example, listen to music or eat something.
- Have the team member self-assess. Not the boss.
Tip 10 – Develop a pleasant personality
Leaders are loved people. Everyone likes to be around them. How you do that is by having a pleasant personality. In which good qualities could you still improve?
This is the first test of a real gentleman / woman: his / her respect for those who cannot be of any value to him / her.
– William Lyon Phelps
Do you want to know what someone is really like? Then look carefully at how he / she treats his / her inferiors, don’t look at how he treats his peers.
– JK Rowling
Tip 11 – A good leader is well cared for
As much as the inner qualities are actually the most important, we still live in a physical world. And physical care simply counts very hard in this.
Tip 12 – Have self-control, because that’s how you are a powerful example
A leader without self-control takes all the power out of an organization.
Tip 13 – Have a good sense of fairness and justice
It should not happen that a leader throws someone out on the street for no reason, falsely accuses them of something, or fails to keep their commitments.
Tip 14 – Don’t be hesitant in the decision-making … but you can think
A leader does not hesitate, but thinks. Thinking brings solutions. Hesitation and fear don’t bring anything.
Tip 15 – Make sure you focus on planning instead of gambling
A leader encourages those around him to gather trends, signals and information on which to base a decision. Even if it is a moment to ask three people a question.
Tip 16 – Be willing to do any kind of work and roll up your sleeves
A leader who cannot take a joke shows that he / she has no decisiveness at all.
Tip 17 – Pay attention to the affective aspect
During meetings, also hold a special method such as …
- ‘Indicate with a line diagram how happy you were during the sprint’.
- ‘Give each other compliments / thanks’.
- Empathy is shown with personal problems.
Tip 18 – Facilitate reflection and feedback
For example, regularly hold a teaching method in which you incorporate feedback: ‘Write to yourself what you need to improve at’.
Tip 19 – Encourage involvement in the team
- During meetings: letting the team think about the course of the company.
- To achieve the mission from the bottom up for more commitment.
- Let us help you think about the Business Model Canvas.
- Staff are also involved in choices.
Tip 20 – Take care of your people: encourage health
A leader takes care of his people. This is already done by:
- Paying attention to ergonomic posture.
- Get up enough.
- Massages (luxury).
- 30 minutes walk during lunch.
Tip 21 – Add a competitive element if necessary
Make sure that staff can compare themselves. This competitive aspect creates more commitment. This happens during, for example:
- Retrospectives: meetings at the end of a project.
- Scrum sessions in the morning where everyone tells what he / she did yesterday and what he / she will do today.
Tip 21 – Facilitate self-development for everyone
- A lot of time and attention is devoted to the development of the employees.
- Encouragement to attend training courses.
- Knowledge Sharing Sessions.
- Encouragement to read books.
- What’s in it for them. Employees are regularly pointed out in which ways a project is beneficial for their development.
Tip 22 – Show your expectations
The following are regularly explained to the team, which is an important part of leadership:
This allows you to actually let your people know what is expected.
Tip 23 – Use the trick: “I don’t have to start from scratch!”
When assignments are given, the leader can make it appear as if tasks are already partly completed. This is sometimes done by, for example, providing a project with some core matters, after which the staff member completes this. The set-up is made by the leader within minutes, while the staff member gets the feeling that significant progress has already been made and that he does not have to start from scratch.
An example in a different context: for example, in retail loyalty cards are already partially stamped so that the customer gets the feeling that he does not have to start saving from the very beginning.
Tip 24 – Pay actual attention to your people so that reciprocity can arise
A good leader really spends time with his people. As a result, the employees will make better efforts:
- Weekly personal meetings are planned and knowledge is shared. The team member will do better in return.
- The leader regularly takes his people aside for one-on-one conversation.
- Handwritten and personalized notes or schedules are made, for example on the scrum board. That gives the impression that extra effort has been put into it, so the recipient does it sooner. That is better than mass mails. If the name of the leader (and the receiver) is also added, it has a reinforcing effect.
Tip 25 – Have a positive approach when you communicate things
- Regularly mention the results already achieved.
- Introduction of the short drink on Friday 17:00 (at the office).
- Regular positive speeches from the boss.
Tip 26 – Use ‘hot words’ instead of dusty words
Coolblue is a well-known example of this. Instead of ‘dusty’ words, they use hip words. That provides more energy. Examples:
- Taskforce instead of committee.
- Power hour or instead of meeting.
Tip 27 – Just be strict sometimes
- Dominance: “Why, because I am the manager and because I say so.”
- Drawing up (small) specific rules.
Tip 28 – Create unanimity
- Let staff work together on one sprint item / project. Have them achieve goals and bonuses as a team. Let them know that everything they do is good for a great shared purpose.
- Set up a situation where someone from outside has ‘wronged’ the team, whereby the staff can only resolve this through cooperation and consultation.
You win together.
– Johan Cruijff
Tip 29 – Make your people feel important
Entrust people with responsibilities and they will be honored. During consultation moments, statements can be made such as:
- “A caretaker is important after all, someone who maintains the Facebook page.”
- “The reason I’m asking you is because I know you’re the best for these kinds of jobs.”
- Could you give me advice?
- I rely on your judgment.
- What do you think?
- “I know I can leave this to you.”
- “XYZ told me that you are the expert for this system”.
Tip 30 – Don’t stay in Maslow’s and Dilts’s basement
Consider the model of the logic levels . Respond to the highest levels: mission and values. Remind them of their noble reasons and developmental reasons why they started this work.
Tip 31 – Follow first, then lead
- A leader can only lead (towards commitment and goal-oriented work) after he has followed.
- This is also called the judo technique. Agree with the other and support the other’s proposals. He will also support you afterwards.
- First to follow: set up an RSS Feed for the news about the hobbies of the employees. So follow them in their interests. Only then lead: They will also think of your interests, including your company.
- Follow first: show that you also sympathize when an employee feels something negative. Only then lead: some time later, be optimistic and happy to relight your employees.
Tip 32 – Encourage and coach!
Some important points:
- Leaders are also coaches.
- Find out together what their strengths are + coach them deeply.
- By doing that you communicate: I believe in you, I invest in you, I expect you to do your best (to get better).
- Develop them into leaders too.
- Encourage them. The quote below from How to Win Friends and Influence People contains a good example:
“The first teacher had
discouraged me by emphasizing my mistakes. This new teacher did
the opposite. She kept praising the things I did right and minimizing
my errors. ‘You have a natural sense of rhythm,’ she assured me.
‘You really are a natural-born dancer.’ Now my common sense tells
me that I always have been and always will be a fourth-rate dancer;
yet, deep in my heart, I still like to think that maybe she meant it. To
be sure, I was paying her to say it; but why bring that up?
“At any rate, I know I am a better dancer than I would have been if
she hadn’t told me I had a natural sense of rhythm. That encourage
That gave me hope. That made me want to improve.”
• Principle 8 – Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
– Quote from How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Tip 33 – Use natural empathy, not just at predetermined times
Also regularly ask about feelings and emotions during other conversations, not just during the weekly conversations. Examples of empathy :
- I see you are a bit tense.
- I think that makes you happy.
- How’s that for you?
- How do you experience that?
- I don’t blame you for how you feel for a second. If I were you, I would no doubt feel the same as you.
Another form of directly applicable empathy is to understand:
- Understand their goals: what they want.
- Understanding their behavior.
- understand their values.
- You can predict what they will do.
- How they see the world.
- Their fears, experiences that make them think.
- How they view the world.
- How they look at themselves.
Below is a summary of Covey’s empathetic listening model:
- Diagnose the person first. Repeating what he says: you have a problem at school.
- Emotion: You feel frustrated.
- Combine the two: you feel frustrated with school.
- Reflect further with statements that read between the lines: you think that …
- So first be influenced (in this feeling with his state of mind) before you can influence. Follow before you can lead. Seek first to understand before to be understood.
Tip 34 – Encourage openness
Encourage openness and ask for the source of why the team member is slow and unmotivated. Maybe they still need to learn little things. Then training can be offered, the work environment changed, or maybe more delegation is needed.
Tip 35 – Ensure involvement of the team in combination with self-development
Ask your people the following questions:
- What do they want to change, how and why? To themselves and to the company?
- Ask what their ideals are for themselves and for the company.
- How can they best achieve their goal?
- Ask them for solutions to improve their productivity. There is a good chance that they themselves know best what motivates them.
Tip 36 – Make sure you have a balanced level of difficulty
Give them the right amount of work for their competencies.
- Too easy: they get bored so they don’t work hard.
- Too Hard: It is too far beyond their means that makes them discouraged and not work hard.
- Slightly too difficult: it is difficult but it does not exceed their skills to learn and to strive. They will work harder to learn it which will make them most productive.
Tip 37 – Counteract the bystander effect
When you tell a whole group something, there will be less cooperation because they easily think, “I’m just one of many, someone else will.” This is how you can counter this:
- For example, do not generally ask everyone at the same time if they want to send a photo, but ask everyone separately, for example by DM or email.
- Use BCC instead of letting others know it’s an email for everyone.
Tip 38 – Provide social proof posts
For example, report that staff are on time 94.7% of the time. Remember the following: it will of course happen that the people who arrive much less on time will now start to improve their behavior, but the 5.3% who always arrive much more often on time will deteriorate their behavior. This can be counteracted by rewarding these people (eg with a smiley) and by showing them how much punctuality is valued.
Tip 39 – Be aware of Daniel Pink’s reward paradox
In Daniel Pink’s book ‘Drive’ the following paradox is discussed:
- Higher rewards only work if it is a simple task.
- Higher rewards are less effective for intellectual work.
- People even do things for free and refuse to do the same for money. They are then motivated to do it because they have been addressed on the higher levels of Maslow.
- So: motivate intrinsically.
Tip 40 – This is how you ensure intrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation is described in three elements in Daniel Pink’s book. Of course the staff still has to be paid well, but add these three elements:
- Independence: employees are allowed to know where and how they want to work for 20% of the time, as long as they have finished their work.
- Self-development: wanting to get better and better. Want to express yourself. Want to stand out.
- Purpose: Wanting to do something that serves a greater purpose. For example, Wikipedia was set up by volunteers.
Tip 41 – Have honest and sincere appreciation
Effective leaders express appreciation.
- Praise all minor improvements to staff (specific) and all improvements. Be abundant in your praise.
- When an employee delivers work, appreciation and admiration can be expressed about a number of details. This quote from How to Win Friends & Influence People shows how President Roosevelt expresses heartfelt appreciation for his auto mechanic:
“When Roosevelt’s friends and associates admired the machine, he
said in their presence: ‘Mr. Chamberlain, I certainly appreciate all the
time and effort you have spent in developing this car. It is a mighty
fine job.’ He admired the radiator, the special rear-vision mirror and
clock, the special spotlight, the kind of upholstery, the sitting position
of the driver’s seat, the special suitcases in the trunk with his
monogram on each suitcase. In other words, he took notice of every
detail to which he knew I had given considerable thought. He made
a point of bringing these various pieces of equipment to the attention
of Mrs. Roosevelt, Miss Perkins, the Secretary of Labor, and his
secretary. He even brought the old White House porter into the
picture by saying, ‘George, you want to take particularly good care of
– Quote from How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Tip 42 – Don’t judge by mistakes
Instead of judging people, they can be tried to understand them. For example, how it came about that they made the mistake. See:
You can imagine Hoover’s anger. One could anticipate the tonguelashing
that this proud and precise pilot would unleash for that
carelessness. But Hoover didn’t scold the mechanic; he didn’t even
criticize him. Instead, he put his big arm around the man’s shoulder
and said, “To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I
want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.”
– Quote from How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Tip 43 – Give feedback in the following way
- At a different time than after the poor performance.
- With a compliment.
- Focused on the action, not the person. “You are a good worker and that is why I do not understand that x does not work.”
- Come up with a solution.
- Pretend the other is doing it unconsciously.
- Share the responsibility but not the blame for getting out together.
- Tell him he’s not alone.
- Provide safety and trust so that employees absorb feedback and perform better: they see it as challenges instead of fear.
Tip 44 – Start in a friendly way
Leaders start off friendly.
- So do not start by naming the matters on which you differ or on which the employee is not doing well.
- Emphasize that you are both working towards the same goal. You differ only in method and not in intention.
- For poor performance, start by praising and expressing genuine appreciation for the employee. A barber first uses foam before shaving.
- Here are two interesting anecdotes from Dale Carnegie:
“My friend, that is a splendid speech, a magnificent speech,”
McKinley said. “No one could have prepared a better one. There are
many occasions on which it would be precisely the right thing to say,
but is it quite suitable to this particular occasion? Sound and sober as
it is from your standpoint, I must consider its effect from the party’s
standpoint. Now you go home and write a speech along the lines I
indicate, and send me a copy of it.”
He did just that. McKinley blue-penciled and helped him rewrite his
second speech, and he became one of the effective speakers of the
In other words, she praised it and at the same time subtly
suggested that it wouldn’t do as a speech.
“It didn’t take long to discover why she had trouble balancing out.
After the office closed, I went over to talk with her. She was
obviously nervous and upset. I praised her for being so friendly and
outgoing with the customers and complimented her for the accuracy
and speed used in that work. I then suggested we review the
procedure we use in balancing the cash drawer. Once she realized I
had confidence in her, she easily followed my suggestions and soon
mastered this function. We have had no problems with her since
Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with
Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is painkilling.
Tip 45 – Give credits
When we have a brilliant idea, we don’t have to make others think it is our idea. Why not let the employees hatch the idea themselves and openly assign the idea to them? They will see it as their own idea, which makes them much more committed to it. See the anecdote from Dale Carnegie below:
Don’t you have much more faith in ideas that you discover for
yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If
so, isn’t it bad judgment to try to ram your opinions down the
throats of other people? Isn’t it wiser to make suggestions – and let
the other person think out the conclusion?
Adolph Seltz of Philadelphia, sales manager in an automobile
showroom and a student in one of my courses, suddenly found
himself confronted with the necessity of injecting enthusiasm into a
discouraged and disorganized group of automobile salespeople.
Calling a sales meeting, he urged his people to tell him exactly what
they expected from him. As they talked, he wrote their ideas on the
blackboard. He then said: “I’ll give you all these qualities you expect
from me. Now I want you to tell me what I have a right to expect
from you.” The replies came quick and fast: loyalty, honesty,
initiative, optimism, teamwork, eight hours a day of enthusiastic
work, The meeting ended with a new courage, a new inspiration –
one salesperson volunteered to work fourteen hours a day – and Mr.
Seltz reported to me that the increase of sales was phenomenal.
Tip 46 – Implicate your leadership
- Move people a bit “Come and stand here, then you can see it better”. A person who portrays people differently is the boss.
- Power: Check your watch sometimes.
Tip 47 – Discover talents
Take note of how good someone is at executing plans, thinking strategically, influencing people, and maintaining relationships. You can find a comprehensive overview of talent recognition here.
Tip 48 – Create a we-feeling
“We will work it out together.” The word “We” is important in this sense.
Tip 49 – Practical example: Student Company Yell
The message below was sent to Student Company Yell employees, including Rubin Alaie (me), by the Director, a Mentor in Quinn’s management style. Strong aspects are in bold.
Good evening guys. First of all, well done everyone today I think we made a good impression and a good start for us. I have 3 requests for you. 1; only use this group app for messages intended for everyone. It’s annoying to keep getting notifications of things you have nothing to do with or other nonsense. 2. Simone and I will be working on the cooperation contract this week. If you have a line that you would like to include that is not standard, please let one of us know. If you have special circumstances or the like that the group may need to be aware of, please report it to Simone or me in a personal message or tell us at school so that we can discuss whether it has consequences for us as a group. If you come right with it, it can be taken into account. Homework for next week. All think of at least 2 products so that we will soon have many things that we might continue on or make something new. Think of products that are good for the environment, are international, csr, iod, for example, these are things that are better than a normal product. This makes us stand out and really create something worthy of higher professional education. Try to be creative and we can go on it together .If you can’t think of anything, that’s okay, but it would be nice and give us a small head start . Tomorrow Simone and I will be working in our office from about 12 noon, no one else has to come but everyone is welcome 🙂 Have a nice evening!
Tip 50 to 107 – An effective leader is an effective influencer
And take a look at the # 1 Most Essential Leadership Book: The 7 Habits of Effective Leadership.
- Ariely, D. (1999). Predictibly Irrational. Harper: Harper Perennial.
- Carnegie, D. (1931). How To Win Friends And Influence People. Dublin: Pocket Books.
- Cialdini, R. (2005). Yes. Free Press: Free Press.
- Covey, S. (2004). The 8th Habit. Colorado: Free Press.
- Goleman, D. (1995). Working With Emotional Intelligence. Bantam: Bantam.
- Hill, N. (1955). Think And Grow Rich. Wilder: Wilder Publications.
- Pink, D. (2001). Drive. Riverhead: Riverhead.
- Vaynerchuck. (2010). The Thank You Economy. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
- Quinn, R. (1998). Personal Mastery in Management. Academic Service
- Hersey, P. (1969) Management of Organisational Behaviour. Patience Hall
To your success!