13 Habits the Vast Majority of Successful Leaders Share

Habits are a powerful and undeniable part of every human. They drive our emotions and the way we think, act, do business, and make our way through life. Habits are a subconscious powerhouse that operate in the background of our every move. Unless we make a concerted effort to review them, understand them, and change them, these habits drive us mostly outside our awareness. Habits unchecked can lead to unwanted outcomes that we don’t connect to the original cause.

So what habits drive success and productivity? Those who make their way to the top don’t do so accidentally. Instead, they tend to share certain key habits.

13 Habits Most Successful Leaders Share

1. They don’t make excuses.

Things didn’t go right on that project? Deal didn’t come together? Don’t blame things on someone else—especially not your subordinates.

Review the problem. What happened? Where did you, your team, your company, miss something? Review the entire process. Be honest. Don’t blame others. Take ownership for where you could contribute differently next time. Be accountable for changes that need to happen so those same issues don’t come up on future opportunities. Tell your team how you will lead and help ensure this doesn’t happen again. They will appreciate your honesty, and you will build trust for the next project.

2. They lead their team.

As the leader, it is your responsibility to lay out the vision and objective for your company, organization, or team. Period.

If you aren’t personally clear on the objective, there is no way your team can be. If you haven’t shared those objectives with your team both strategically and tactically, then your team doesn’t have a clear picture of why your goals exist.

3. They have clearly defined personal and business goals.

Set the goal. Work through the steps to achieve it. Think about what it means to you. What are the tangible results of that outcome? How will you feel when you achieve it?

The clearer the goal is, the more clear the path is to get it. The more clear the path is to get there, the easier it is to actually execute on. Then, you also know when you’ve accomplished the stated goal.

Celebrate. And then set new ones.


4. They give their team credit for the win.

We all love when a plan goes well. Take a moment to talk through the play with everyone involved. These were the steps we took to get here. This was our mission. Here are the 3-4 things we can improve on. Looking back on the entire process, you guys did X, Y, Z very well. Worked as a unit. Well done, team.

When the team gets the win, they are able to own their piece of that mission. This creates a sense of ownership of the problem, the opportunity, and the ultimate success.

5. They mastermind with likeminded people.

Having people to bounce ideas off that you trust is vital. Meet with others who are likeminded, not so you can be in the same room with people who all agree, but so you can be amongst those who are motivated to learn and to grow as humans, investors, owners, innovators, and leaders.

You can find this in masterminds, friends meeting for a monthly breakfast, or fellow colleagues working for different companies. Don’t know of something like this in your field or your area? Create it. Find the time and the space to grow in your role and in your capacity and skill as a leader. Learn from others.

6. They allow subordinates to challenge them.

Create an environment where those who work with you are able to bring up issues to you, even if you are the “boss.” If your team isn’t able to bring up real issues, you are setting your entire team up for failure. As the leader, you might be too close to the problem. Or you might be so far away from the problem that you literally don’t know it exists.

Teach your team how to more effectively communicate these issues by having a forum and safe place publicly to share. Then, make sure your next statement is, “I hear you loud and clear, and thank you for bringing it up. What do you suggest we do to deal with this issue?”

7. They read books frequently.

Books inspire us to learn about new ideas. Nearly all the very successful people who I know, whom I’ve read about, and who have inspired me personally are readers. Books have a way of taking you down a path that teaches you about your own life or business.

Not sure what to read? Check out top 10 business or self-development books. Ask others for great books they are reading. Check out books on Audible that you can listen to with search topics you are interested in. Any way you do it, make time and space to learn and grow. You will be a wiser person.

8. They challenge themselves daily.

It’s easy to do things you are already good at. But life is a totally different experience when you routinely put yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable. That might be speaking in public or starting a conversation with a stranger. Maybe you hire a teacher and learn to play a musical instrument.

Do something that is challenging you. Grow and learn from the person you were yesterday to the person you want to be tomorrow. Life is about doing interesting things. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing builds fortitude.


9. They moderate TV and social media.

Put that device down. There are so many people vying for your attention on television and online. Social media has its uses, but it can also form incredibly bad habits. Television is no different. You can waste hours and hours of precious time doing literally nothing.

Instead, be thoughtful regarding what you put in your life—books, music, sometimes nothing Work on the project you have been putting off. Cook dinner with your family and put your phone away.

10. They know relationships are integral to their lives.

Just because you have a huge goal you are workings towards doesn’t mean you should do it at the expense of your family. Incredible opportunities do come up, and sometimes we have to put time in when we are growing a business or solving problems.

Maybe you feel you need to work harder to be more successful or make more money. But on the other hand, you aren’t able to relax and enjoy the company of your spouse or play with your kids.

We often hear “life is short” but don’t really listen. Find joy in playing more with your kids. Schedule a BBQ with your friends. Take your husband or wife on an impromptu date.  If you miss all these opportunities while you’re working so hard for a better life, you’re missing the point altogether. Family and friends are deeply important and should be held sacred no matter how big your goals are.

11. They practice daily gratitude.

Journal, meditate, a review mentally what you have to be thankful for. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in issues or petty problems. Keep your sights on what really matters. This is a practice, a behavior.

Start by writing out three or four things each morning you are thankful for. When we put ourselves in a state of gratitude regularly, we are able to more easily deal with issues that do come up. Instead of having a negative reaction, we can prime ourselves to more gracefully deal with issues (and with other people).

12. They exercise and eat well.

Your mind and body will feel best and operate at their optimum state with nutritious eating and regular exercise. Food is fuel. It’s not to say the occasional cheat meal or snack isn’t OK. Have some fun. Eat the chocolate cake. Have that glass of wine. Just remember that it shouldn’t be your everyday habit.

Exercise is a vital part of the routine too. Everyone has a different sport or activity they like to do. But do something, and do it at least two or three times a week.

13. They give out help and mentor others.

Giving is a powerful and incredible gift for both the recipient and the giver. Many successful people out there have related how giving actually brought more success and opportunity their way. Opportunities arise all the time when you are open, listening, and in tune with what is happening around you.

Welcome the opportunity to share what you’ve learned. Help someone who is just starting to get into a business or skill you are good at. Mentor and share in their journey. You will be surprised by what kind of incredible return that selfless gift might have in store.

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