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Leadership

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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:

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Listen to your team

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Communicate as efficiently as possible

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Talk less

Sometimes saying nothing is better than saying just anything.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Be an example

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Be passionate

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Be consistent

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Make firm decisions

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Identify mentors and role models

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Interfere only when necessary

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Know your limits

Don’t extend yourself beyond your means.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Know your strengths

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Know your weaknesses

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Don’t make excuses

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Accept the unforeseen

You can’t control or predict everything.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Choose your partners carefully

Work only with people you can count on and trust.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Do good

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Meet new people all the time

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Stay in touch with your emotions

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Temper your reactions

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Have fun

Take the time to have fun with your team.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Research everything

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Think everything through

Never exclusively trust your instincts or first reactions.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Choose your team carefully

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Prioritize your team

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Be humble.

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

Related: 10 Habits of Ultra-Likable Leaders

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Forgive mistakes

Everyone makes them.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Forgive yourself

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Be rational

Make decisions logically.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Be reasonable

Listen to dissenting opinions, and be fair.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

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.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Constantly learn

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Improve everything

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Never give up

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Transform your methods when necessary

If something isn’t working, change your approach

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Cut your losses when necessary

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Learn from your mistakes

Try not to make the same mistakes twice

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Ground everything with data

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

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.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Give feedback

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Trust, but verify

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Be approachable

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Treat everyone equally

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

50 Rules for Being a Great 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.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Get the team together

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Return favors

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Don’t burn bridges

Never cut a contact completely out of your life.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Stay in touch

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

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.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Enjoy leadership

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

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

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.

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

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