Outstanding leaders pull their businesses to the top and keep them there, bringing in potentially millions in profits and creating brands that stand the test of time. Most of them have their individual preferences and trade secrets, of course, but they excel in their industries primarily because they acknowledge and follow a surprisingly very similar set of principles. These are among the top “rules” exceptional leaders use to guide their decisions and maintain great companies.
1) Let innovation come from anywhere in the business hierarchy.
In many corporations, executives get together and brainstorm ideas in closed-door meetings, often announcing decisions to employees from the top down. This approach is great for efficiency, as a limited number of individuals are involved, but it’s problematic in that the same people are always the ones to provide ideas. Great leaders recognize that even the lowest-level employee can be creative and have good problem skills. They invite feedback and suggestions from everybody on payroll, not just the ones in the C-suite or who have managerial authority. This method broadens options for the company, all while creating a true sense of cohesiveness and boosting employee self-esteem.
2) Make a habit of learning.
Even though great leaders might be extremely knowledgeable in several areas, they acknowledge that they are not experts in everything and that there is always more information to seek. They ask for advice from specialists when necessary and find mentors who can guide and inspire them. They travel, attend conferences, read professional journals and other publications and are willing to try out new things as opportunities arise. The things leaders learn through these techniques broadens their perspective not only on their business, but on the world, making them better innovators and enabling them to think more in depth about the issues they face.
3) Focus on relationship building.
Leaders who stand out understand that getting things done isn’t just about how much money or power someone has. It’s about creating trust so that people feel comfortable working collaboratively together, sharing resources and asking good, necessary questions.
Trust comes from spending time with a person, from coming to understand their preferences, skill sets and experience. Subsequently, outstanding leaders are willing to network and give each employee a fair amount of face time, keeping the entire organization up to date on what is happening or changing. They also are willing to develop the leadership potential of their subordinates, as they know they cannot handle everything alone and need to ensure that the general workforce still feels comfortable with someone else calling some of the shots.
4) Be a good model.
Employees usually look to higher-ups for clues about what is and is not acceptable behavior. This tendency means that leaders who want to make a difference have to put in just as much effort–if not more than–their employees, who will see what the leader does as the standard to reach. This concept applies not just to the time and skill put into tasks, but also ethics. Great leaders continually strive to be effective models in areas like following regulations, providing fair pay, avoiding office gossip and not discriminating.
5) Act responsibly.
Poorer leaders hesitate to take action, wanting to explore every option from every angle. Although there’s definitely something to be said for thoroughness and patience, there are times in business where deadlines simply cannot be pushed back anymore and a decision has to be made without further ado. In these circumstances, great leaders don’t look for an absolutely perfect judgment call, but rather take the information they currently have and form the best plan or solution they can in the moment so the business can keep moving forward. They consider the well-being of their employees and seek their protection through this process. They also acknowledge when they’ve made an error without hesitation and give credit to those who have contributed to a good outcome.
Being a good business leader admittedly comes with significant challenges, but those who excel get ahead because they understand that everyone contributes to the business and that there’s always something to learn. They move forward when it’s necessary, making adjustments as circumstances change. Throughout all their work, they stand up as mirrors, reflecting exactly how they want their employees to perform. Applying these basic ideas can make a world of difference in the atmosphere of a company and, ultimately, propel it to unprecedented levels in the market.