10 Ways Leaders Think Differently To create value for a business, you need to be able to do more than just put together a fancy presentation and come up with long, impressive words at meetings.

By Murray Newlands

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With so much technology and information at our hands today, we can't become influential leaders by solely relying on old-fashioned methods. To create value for a business, you need to be able to do more than just put together a fancy presentation and come up with long, impressive words at meetings.

You need to be a goal setter who knows how to execute an efficient plan that will allow you and your business to achieve your chosen objectives. Instead of thinking of the who, what, where, and when, try thinking about how and what needs to be done to stay ahead of the competition.

Leaders are more than just delegators; they get their hands dirty, and when the going gets tough, they keep going. To be a successful leader, you need motivation, drive, passion, and the ability to think outside the box. Here are 10 ways leaders think differently.

1. They execute with a goal in mind.

A leader doesn't complete a task with no questions asked. Leaders execute everything with a specific set of objectives in mind. As a leader, it's important to have a reason for doing everything you do; if you don't, it may mean you are taking on unnecessary tasks.

Leaders are motivated by reward, and whether or not that reward is tangible, it should drive you towards fulfilling your purpose. To have a leader's mindset, you must be 100 percent sure of what you need to achieve and how it will benefit you and your organization.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

2. They stay on strategy.

Have you ever been at work and had a colleague come to you asking for help with a task? Did this work seem completely pointless? Did you do it anyway without asking about its purpose? If so, you should start reconsidering who you say "yes" to.

If demands and requests are not on strategy to help achieve the most important goals set out by you and your company, they aren't worth your time (at least not for now). Stay on strategy and avoid off-strategy demands that take up your time, energy, and resources. A real leader is able to recognize the value of requests and decline those that will not create an immediate benefit to the cause.

Related: 10 Leadership Quotes From the World's Most Influential Leaders

3. They know perfection doesn't exist.

There is no such thing as perfect. If you're still chasing perfect, you should stop and think about the meaning of perfect. The fact of the matter is, if you have created a strategy that you are spending half of your time trying to perfect, you will never be satisfied with it. No matter how well you implement your strategy, you will find something that can be improved, so go with what you have and amend major glitches along the way.

Related: The Top 10 Books Every Leader Must Read

4. They focus on the how, not the what.

A leader already knows the goals and objectives; the most important part is how these are going to be achieved. Leaders spend up to 20 percent of their time thinking about the "what" and 80 percent or more thinking about the "how". Often, leaders don't succeed because they think of a eureka idea, bark orders, and aren't able to understand why these orders haven't been met.

A real leader establishes clear aims and objectives and then spends most of his or her time finding a way to reach these goals. In other words, successful leaders are not just ideas people; they are able to work out the perfect execution in order to make those ideas a reality.

Related: The 3 Biggest Leadership Mistakes People Make

5. They ask questions (about everything).

To be a leader, you need to be knowledgeable. To be knowledgeable, you need to ask questions. To ask questions, you need to be interested enough to ask them. Successful leaders have the confidence to question just about anything.

They want to know the ins and outs of the conversations they are having. They do so in order to not only educate themselves but also gather their opinions on certain matters. It's also a great way to become more innovative, as you can gather information on topics that many take for granted.

Related: 9 Ways to Recognize a Real Leader

6. They gamble strategically.

Risk taking has its disadvantages, but when done strategically, it can bring forward rewards that can't be accomplished any other way. Leaders don't sit and wait for an opportunity to arise; they think long and hard about innovative ways to take their ideas to the next level.

Once they know the "how", they calculate risk versus reward and establish whether or not the risk is worth it. People who dare to jump in at the deep end in an intelligent and calculated manner come out swimming a lot quicker than those who sit around waiting for something to land in front of them.

Related: Why Leadership Hinges Upon What You Do -- Not Who You Are

7. They reflect before they act, not after.

Risk taking must be calculated to be efficient...the same goes with acting. Reflecting before you act, speak, respond, or engage your emotions will give you perspective. Reflective thinking is the only way you can really distance yourself from a situation. Before acting on anything, you need to understand other people's perspectives, emotions, and thoughts. From there, you can make an educated decision regarding the best path towards success.

Related: 3 Leadership Qualities You Need When Facing a Big Challenge

8. They participate in collaborative thinking.

The term "bouncing ideas off each other" is one of the most valuable ideas to learn as a leader. A successful leader doesn't assume he or she knows everything better than everyone else. On the contrary, leaders participate in collaborative thinking to get feedback, find flaws in their ideas they may have missed, and expand on their ideas to improve them.

Related: 5 Keys to Inspiring Leadership, No Matter Your Style

9. They see the bigger picture.

Leaders are best known for their ability to think outside the box and see the bigger picture. Have you ever encountered a boss who's able to listen quietly during a meeting and then share ideas from nowhere that you listen to and think "Oh yeah, I hadn't thought of that!". That is exactly why that person is the boss.

Leaders can see both the pros and cons of an idea. They are able to disconnect from situations and conversations emotionally in order to take every aspect into consideration before making any remarks or giving any feedback. To be a leader, you need to train your brain to connect the dots quickly and efficiently.

Related: Founders Need to Focus on These 4 Leadership Essentials

10. They can simplify difficult tasks.

Organizations of all sizes have their individual processes. They're used to having tasks performed in specific ways so that standards remain uniform across the board. Leaders are able to identify when those standards are not as efficient as they could be and then simplify them to make tasks easier.


Becoming a leader doesn't happen overnight. It requires a specific set of skills and a mindset that can only be acquired with time. That said, by implementing some of the various ways of thinking, acting, and reacting mentioned above, you will be leading yourself and your teams to success in no time!

Murray Newlands

Entrepreneur, business advisor and online-marketing professional

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and speaker. He is the founder of ChattyPeople.com chatbot builder tool and Sighted.com. Read his blog MurrayNewlands.com.

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