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50 Rules for Being a Great Leader Sample rule: Sometimes saying nothing is better than saying just anything.

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Becoming a great leader isn't something that happens overnight, but it can be achieved through discipline, hard work and a commitment to improvement through experience. Great leaders aren't born, as some people suggest; instead, they are shaped over time. And, while what makes a "great" leader in one application doesn't always apply to others, there are some general rules that all great leaders follow.

Related: What Leadership Is -- And What It Is Not

If becoming a great leader in your own business or organization is your goal, these 50 rules are a good place to start:

Listen to your team

Rule one. Always listen to what your team has to say, even if you don't like it.

Communicate as efficiently as possible

Make your expectations and feelings clear, in the appropriate medium as often as possible.

Talk less

Sometimes saying nothing is better than saying just anything.

Be an example

Be the type of person you want your team members to be.

Be passionate

If you aren't passionate about your business, you're in the wrong business.

Be consistent

Be consistent in your behaviors so your team knows what to expect from you.

Make firm decisions

Don't leave things undecided for long, and don't waver about a decision once you've made it

Identify mentors and role models

Find people you can look up to and learn from, and follow them closely.

Interfere only when necessary

If you trust your team to do good work, don't interfere unless absolutely necessary.

Know your limits

Don't extend yourself beyond your means.

Know your strengths

If you're good at resolving disputes, step in and resolve them as often as possible.

Know your weaknesses

If there's something you're not good at, admit it, and work on it.

Don’t make excuses

If you make a mistake, take ownership of it and don't pass the blame to someone or something else.

Accept the unforeseen

You can't control or predict everything.

Choose your partners carefully

Work only with people you can count on and trust.

Do good

Commit yourself to being a good person and giving back to the community when possible.

Meet new people all the time

Take every opportunity to expand your network and expose yourself to new experiences and perspectives.

Stay in touch with your emotions

Don't be a robot -- let yourself feel.

Temper your reactions

Hold back your reactions until you have a moment to clarify your internal thoughts and feelings.


Have fun

Take the time to have fun with your team.

Research everything

Before making a decision, know the pros and cons -- do your homework.

Think everything through

Never exclusively trust your instincts or first reactions.

Choose your team carefully

Hire only those you can trust to get the job done (and to get along with others, as well).

Prioritize your team

Your team is everything. Give them whatever they need to succeed.

Be humble.

Don't get big-headed about your wealth, influence or position as a leader.

Related: 10 Habits of Ultra-Likable Leaders

Forgive mistakes

Everyone makes them.

Forgive yourself

Don't beat yourself up too much over anything. Move on.


Be rational

Make decisions logically.

Be reasonable

Listen to dissenting opinions, and be fair.

Make time for what’s important

There's no such thing as "not having time" for what's really important in your life. Make the time.

Constantly learn

Read as much as you can, and take classes whenever you have the opportunity.

Improve everything

Work on improving your approaches, your skills and your processes constantly.

Never give up

Don't throw in the towel when a little extra persistence could put you over the edge.


Transform your methods when necessary

If something isn't working, change your approach

Cut your losses when necessary

If you're fighting a losing battle, retreat and start again somewhere else (or in a new way).


Learn from your mistakes

Try not to make the same mistakes twice


Ground everything with data

Back up all your decisions, opinions and thoughts with hard, objective facts and evidence.

Don’t ignore signs of stress

Stress is real and can interfere with your ability to lead. If it starts setting in at abnormal levels, take action to reduce or relieve it.

Give feedback

Let your team know what they're doing well and what needs further improvement.

Trust, but verify

Trust your team to get things done, but always follow up to make sure the work is completed.

Be approachable

Let people know they can trust you, and open your door to anybody who needs it.

Treat everyone equally

Don't play favorites; it breeds resentment and makes you appear immature as a leader.

Don’t pursue close personal relationships with the team

Be on friendly terms, but don't try to be best friends with everybody. You're a leader, first and foremost.

Get the team together

Use team-building exercises or other excuses to get your team members talking with one other and having fun together

Return favors

If someone helps you, make it your responsibility to pay back the favor -- even if it's years later.

Don’t burn bridges

Never cut a contact completely out of your life.

Stay in touch

If team members leave or change roles, stay in contact with them.


Don’t sacrifice your personal life

Your personal life is necessary to retain your own mental health. Never sacrifice it for the sake of leadership or professional responsibilities.

Enjoy leadership

Try not to stress too much about being a leader. Instead, enjoy all the benefits it offers

Take advice with a grain of salt

Even with these 50 rules! Because nobody knows everything, and no one piece of advice applies to all situations.

Follow these rules

Follow these rules, trust your instincts and continually strive for self-improvement. Eventually, through your experiences and your efforts, you'll become the type of leader most people only aspire to be.

Related: 10 Behaviors of Real Leaders

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