What’s the difference between them and those who only win occasionally?
How is it that they can beat you with their people, and if they had to, could switch teams with you and beat you with your people?
Watching great leaders win again and again can be mystifying if you don’t know how they do it.
You might think that they got lucky, had better opportunities, or even that they’re just better than you.
But here’s what you need to realize: great leaders aren’t necessarily any better than you. They may just be doing things you aren’t doing.
Great leaders use a formula, a logical flow, to get the job done. They know what buttons to push to get their team excited and keep them excited about the project at hand. They know what leadership skills, techniques, and tools to hone in on to get the results they want—and you can too! These are all things you can learn and improve on.
When I was starting out in my own business, I was lost. I didn’t know what to do, when to do it, or how to do it. But when I looked around, I saw that the people who were doing extremely well didn’t seem to be that much more gifted than I was. That gave me hope.
I wasn’t one of those dummies who was too proud to ask for help. I asked . . . and asked . . . and asked. Everything I wondered about, I asked about.
I took these people and their answers seriously. I wrote everything down; I got a tape recorder and recorded their thoughts so they wouldn’t have to repeat themselves. I wrote down everything they said and memorized it until it became part of me.
Over time, I got to where I knew the things they knew so well that I could have answered those questions pretty much the same way they would have.
That saved me years of fumbling and stumbling. Whenever I got to a new sticking point, I repeated the process so I could keep my team, and myself, moving up the ladder.
Eventually, we moved all the way to #1, and stayed there. It was not an accident.
A team is only as good as its leader. In order for the team to grow, the leader must grow. Without a strong leader, it doesn’t matter how good the team is—they will flounder.
Think of an orchestra. If they didn’t have a conductor, how would they be able to start playing at the same time, or play at the same speed?
The performance first starts in the conductor’s head. It’s his or her job to move that performance to the stage, pull the orchestra together, and make it happen. That’s why when you see orchestras practicing, the conductor is continually stopping, starting, and instructing as they go—because the conductor is the only one who knows if they’re all coming together the right way, with the right energy, to create the right performance.
The orchestra absolutely depends on feedback from the conductor—the specific instructions and corrections that guide them to deliver what the conductor wants. This practice and feedback are what make them perform at a high level when it’s showtime.
In the same way, the leader of a team must be able to lead with confidence and communicate to their team what needs to get done and how quickly it needs to happen.
Once everyone on the team is working in the same direction, the team can improve month over month, year after year. Momentum builds, the compounding effect kicks in, and as a result, the team has a huge growth surge.
But for all of this to happen, the leader has to develop specific leadership skills to be able to lead the team effectively.
Winning leaders remove the clutter and focus on the most important things—then they push those things constantly. They know what to do. They don’t get sidetracked.
Of course, this is not a complete list, but here are five winning leadership skills that turn mediocre leaders into powerhouses:
Great leaders know how to delegate and set up systems of people helping other people—these maximize everyone’s strengths for the common good.
Everyone needs to be responsible for something and have someone to report to.
Every member of your team has a role to play, a piece of the goal. They can’t have any doubt about what all their effort is for, or that their effort is going to pay off for the team as a whole and for them as individuals.
Share your end goal with the team and make sure they know how they fit into achieving it.
Once you have a clear goal and everyone on your team knows the part they are going to play, it’s time to set a time frame. When do you want (or need) to have this accomplished by? Your team needs a definite target to aim for.
Not only do you need a deadline, but you need a schedule—break this down into daily, weekly, and monthly targets to keep everyone on track.
It’s too easy to get behind when your deadline is far away—it’s too easy to say “I’ve got plenty of time” and slack off. Setting smaller, more immediate deadlines maximizes productivity and adds a bit of competition that encourages team members to want to get ahead.
If you want to maximize team effort, you have to maximize team unity. Research from top business schools across the country has consistently shown a minimum 42% increase in productivity when people believe in what they are doing and know how their job relates to the bottom line.
Think about it—you’re way more likely to work harder and longer if you’re actually excited about the work you’re doing. The same goes for your team. If you want team unity, you’re going to have to create team unity. Keep them excited, energized, confident, and focused on team goals.
What’s the best way to do that? Show them how important the goal is and what their role is in helping the team achieve it. Let them feel pride in knowing their personal efforts result in the team accomplishing big things. Get them emotionally attached to the team winning so they can share in the excitement of the success.
Build their confidence and mental toughness, so they don’t crumble when times get tough. Keep giving them more responsibilities and challenges to prepare them for future promotions.
Ultimately, though having a plan is important, it won’t bring victory. It’s the adjustments that win in sports, war, political campaigns, careers, and projects of all kinds.
There are always surprises that throw you off track. Roadblocks crop up no matter how precisely you’ve planned. The only true way to be ready for these is to know how to be flexible.
Great leaders aren’t afraid to make the important decisions or deviate from the original path. They know that unexpected problems are unavoidable, and the only way forward is to find a way around them.
That’s what separates confident leaders from weak ones—they aren’t afraid to call shots and take the risks. They don’t let indecision and delays doom them.
Developing these leadership skills will help you strengthen your team (and yourself) and prepare you for whatever challenges come next. With a strong, confident, excited team who has a solid foundation and clear purpose, you can accomplish amazing things!
I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of leadership skills and techniques out there. It can be hard sometimes to tell what’s an empty promise and what’s actually a valuable point. But when you do what great leaders do, you set yourself up for success by doing what’s proven to work.
So get organized, create a goal, set a deadline, unify the team, and adjust as you go. How far can you get this month? By the end of the year? By this time next year?