3 Essentials Every Effective Leader Starts With


As a business coach and strategist, I’ve seen how diverse and confounding the challenges are in being an effective leader. Whether you’re a CEO, founder, vice-president, director or manager, the challenges come in many forms: strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, technology, feedback, growth, outsourcing, decisiveness, and integrity. To take your leadership game to the next level, you want to start with 3 essentials that are the foundation of effective leadership.

1. Understand What Drives Your Behaviour

To be an effective leader or manager, at any level, you need to start with an in-depth understanding of your core values because core values drive your behaviour or “run the show”, so to speak. If you don’t understand your core values, you’ll find yourself questioning your actions and decisions, or you’ll find yourself unable to act decisively. Understanding your core values is key to being able to take decisive action without analysis paralysis or decision remorse — two things an effective leader cannot afford.

Values are not something you overtly choose because it’s what you want to value, or it’s what you think you should value. Values are evident in how you do things, what decisions you make and what you prioritize. For example, I’ve seen many leaders say they value ‘growth’; however, in their actions and decisions, it’s clear that they value ‘harmony’ (making everyone happy), which is directly in conflict with the value of ‘growth’. Check out my other blog on values that includes a comprehensive values exercise, noting that when you do the exercise, you should consider what actions and behaviours are present.

Once you understand your values, you can use them as a way to understand your own thought process. You’ll also be able to use your values as a framework for making tough decisions. Often leaders are paralyzed when they have to make tough decisions, or they make decisions they regret because they get caught up in the details and dynamics of the situation and they can’t see the bigger picture in the moment. By using your values as a framework to make decisions, you’ll be able to make tough meaningful decisions that you won’t regret in the long run.

Lastly, once you understand your core values, you can use them to educate, inspire and lead the people around you. I let everyone I work with know my core values so they have a better understanding of who I am a person, why I think and act the way I do, and also how to succeed with me. Established values create clarity, confidence, decisiveness, power, velocity and ease.

2. Understand What Makes You A Leader

Getting clear on your unique combination of strengths is essential to being an effective leader. Your strengths are the things you will always gravitate towards and they’re often the things that light you up! Knowing your strengths is so important because it’s where you’ll get your “10x” (exponential returns on your efforts). Danielle Laporte says “if you round out your edges, you lose your edge” and knowing what your strengths are allows you to sharpen your edge by putting your efforts where you excel, and then confidently delegating what you know you don’t excel at. The most effective leaders, “A players” spend their time doing what they’re great at and delegating everything else.

The best strength analysis I’ve come across is the Clifton StrengthsFinder analysis. I have found that the individual combination of strengths (not pre-defined personality profile) that this profile analysis provides to be the most accurate, insightful and useful to leaders.

3. Understand What You’re Trying To Accomplish

Every leader has a “big why”, a thing they are trying to accomplish that has them do what they do. It’s their driving purpose, the difference they want to make for themselves and others. Steve Job’s big why was “make a dent in the universe”; Oprah’s — “to be a teacher and to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be”; Richard Branson’s — “to have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes”. You have a “big why” that has you be a leader, work hard, and make sacrifices. What is the difference you are trying to make?

Once you know what your big why is, you can use it as a tool to keep yourself motivated, to understand your own actions, to guide your decisions in tough times, and most important to motivate, inspire and enrol everyone around them about what your trying to accomplish. If you haven’t figured out, or articulated your “big why” try a few of these resources:

Mastering these three big essentials is the foundation to being an effective leader! Good luck and let me know how it goes!!

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