Your company is only as good as its people. So, if you want to build a strong, thriving company, you need to hire the best talent—and then inspire those people in a way that makes them want to stick around and help you take your business to the next level.
In other words, you need to be the kind of leader that attracts (and retains) top talent.
But how, exactly, do you do that? What are the key rules of leadership you need to follow if you not only want to attract the best, strongest employees to your business—but lead them in a way that keeps them with your business for years to come?
Why Effective Leadership Is Important
Effective leaders play an important role in the success of a business—and the success of the business’ employees.
There are a few reasons why effective business leaders are so important to their teams, including:
- Leaders have influence. Leaders, by definition, lead. They have serious influence over the people they’re leading—and that influence can have a serious impact on an organization, either in a positive way or a negative way.
- Leaders set the tone for an organization. Because leaders have so much influence, they can have a trickle down effect in the organization; a leader’s work habits and attitude can (and will!) set the tone for the company culture and work environment.
- Good leaders attract and retain top talent. Great leaders are inspiring. People want to work for them. And so, when you have strong leadership qualities, you can attract great people to your business and get them committed to your mission—and skyrocket your company’s success in the process.
Clearly, strong leadership is a must if you want to build a strong company. So now that you understand why true leadership is so important, let’s jump into the ten golden rules of leadership you need to know to inspire your team and cultivate the leadership qualities you need to take your team and business to the next level:
1. Lead by Example
Different leaders lead differently. But if there’s one universal quality that the best leaders share, it’s this: they lead by example.
Great leaders embrace the actions, behaviors, and habits they want to inspire in others. For example, if you want to create a culture of honesty within your team, it starts with cultivating honesty within yourself. If you want to inspire passion in your employees, as a leader, you yourself need to bring passion to work every day. If you want your team to be engaged at work, you can’t sit at your desk scrolling through social media all day—you need to be the one to model that engagement for them. If you want to nurture community within your team, you can’t have a standoffish attitude; you need to be connecting with your employees and building that community from the ground up.
As mentioned, leaders have a trickle-down effect on their teams and organizations—so whatever it is you want to inspire in your team? Start by being the example.
2. Understand Your Impact
When you’re in a leadership position, you can’t just think about the day-to-day tasks you need to get done. You need to think about the big picture—and understand the impact you have on your team.
A great leader can be a major inspiration in a person’s life, both at work and at home. That’s a big responsibility—and in order to be an effective leader, you need to understand, respect, and embrace the responsibility.
For example, when you run a business, part of your job is making sure your team stays on task during the day. But if that’s all you’re doing, you’re not being the most effective leader you can be. In addition to keeping your employees on task, you also need to make sure you’re inspiring them, sharing your company’s bigger mission, and helping them move towards their long-term career goals.
Bottom line? If you want to be a great leader, you have to understand the impact your leadership has on your team—and the responsibility that comes along with it.
3. Embrace the Truth
You can’t be a great leader and a liar at the same time. Not only can dishonesty make you lose face with your team, but it can also breed a culture of dishonesty within your organization—and if your team can’t be honest (with you or with each other), your business is going to suffer.
Great leaders always embrace the truth—even when it’s difficult. So, if you want to be the kind of leader that inspires your team, attracts top talent, and gets them on board with your mission for the long term? Make telling the truth a non-negotiable.
4. Never Compromise Your Personal Integrity
As mentioned, honesty is an important part of effective leadership.
But it goes deeper than that. The best leaders aren’t just honest; they embrace the power of personal integrity.
Leaders with a strong sense of personal integrity live by an unwavering moral code. When they say something, they mean it. They have a strong set of personal values and leadership principles—and incorporate those values and principles into everything they do.
For example, let’s say you tell your team that one of your core values is sustainability. If you have a strong sense of personal integrity, that value of sustainability will be at the forefront of everything you do, in business and in life—even when it’s not the easiest choice. But if you say you value sustainability—but, when given the choice, buy the less energy-efficient equipment because it’s more affordable? Your team is going to question your integrity and credibility—and your image as a leader can be seriously tarnished.
The point is, if you want to be a strong leader—and build strong teams in the process—never underestimate the power of personal integrity.
5. Fix What You Can Control — and Let Go of the Rest
Being a strong leader isn’t about making everything perfect. It’s about figuring out where you can have impact in your organization and focusing on those things—and letting the rest go.
For example, let’s say you have an employee who has a negative, defeatist attitude. Obviously, part of being a great leader is doing everything you can to inspire that team member and help them develop a more positive attitude. But at a certain point, if they refuse to change, you can’t force them to be more positive—and if you try, you’re pulling away focus from the team members who are willing to make changes, improve their attitude, and bring positivity to work.
If you want to be an effective leader, do not waste energy on things you cannot change; instead, focus on where you can have a positive impact—and let go of what you can’t control.
6. Be Fair
When you work closely with a team, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get along with some people better than others; that’s just human nature.
But as a leader, it doesn’t matter if you get along with one team member better than another; when an issue arises, you need to put your personal feelings aside and always, always lead with fairness.
For example, let’s say you have to mediate a conflict between two employees. It doesn’t matter what your personal opinion is about those two employees or whether you find one more likable, hardworking, or easy to get along with than the other. If you want to be an effective leader—and get to the real bottom of the dispute—you need to listen to both sides, dig into the facts, and mediate the conflict from a fair, unbiased perspective.
The point is, when it comes time to lead, you can’t bring your personal opinions into the picture; instead, you need to come from a place of fairness.
7. Cater Your Leadership Style to Your Team Members
Different people respond to different leadership styles; what might be an effective leadership strategy for leading one team might be an absolute disaster for another.
And so, if you want to be the best leader you can be—and elevate your team and business in the process? You need to be willing and able to adjust your leadership style to your audience.
For example, one of your employees might respond really well to a more “hands-off” leadership style, where you give them more autonomy, let them do things their own way, and make yourself available on an as-needed basis. But another employee might struggle to get things done without more structure and guidance—and in order to inspire the best in that employee, you’d need to take a more “hands on” approach to leadership.
The more you can adjust your leadership style to suit your team members, the better you’ll be able to lead each of those team members—and the more successful they (and your business) will be as a result.
8. Put People First
Great leadership isn’t about you—it’s about your people. So, if you want to be a great leader?
Put your people first.
Lead in a way that inspires your employees and empowers them to do their best work. Create a workflow that allows them the balance to work and live life. Create a culture of feedback, support, and incentives. Give your employees the opportunity to learn and advance within the company.
Effective leadership is, of course, about how you lead—but it’s also about how you treat your people. So, if you want to be a better leader, make sure you’re prioritizing your team and what they need to succeed.
9. Pass on the Leadership Torch
It doesn’t matter what kind of incredible leadership skills you have. As your organization grows, you can’t lead it alone. So, part of being a great leader—and attracting and retaining top talent as a result of that leadership—means passing on the leadership torch when appropriate.
For example, let’s say you’re rolling out a new technology to your team—but it’s not a technology you’re super familiar with. Instead of trying to lead the rollout yourself, it would be better for your team—and your business—to let a tech-savvy employee who knows the technology inside and out to lead the charge.
The point is, sometimes being an effective leader is letting other people lead—so don’t be afraid to empower your employees to step into leadership roles when it makes sense.
10. ABG (Always Be Growing)
You might be a good leader today. But if you want to continue being the kind of leader that inspires your team and gets the best people to work for your organization? You need to ABG—always be growing.
The best leaders make leadership development a priority; they’re constantly working on increasing their emotional intelligence, cultivating new skills, and growing, both as a leader and as a person.
So, if you want to build an amazing team—and keep them with your organization—don’t get complacent; instead, focus on growing and evolving as a leader.