50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader
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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

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

Communicate as efficiently as possible

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

Talk less

Talk less
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Sometimes saying nothing is better than saying just anything.

Be an example

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

Be passionate

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

Be consistent

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

Make firm decisions

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

Identify mentors and role models

Identify mentors and role models
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Find people you can look up to and learn from, and follow them closely.

Interfere only when necessary

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

Know your limits

Know your limits
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Don’t extend yourself beyond your means.

Know your strengths

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

Know your weaknesses

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

Don’t make excuses

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

Accept the unforeseen

Accept the unforeseen
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You can’t control or predict everything.

Choose your partners carefully

Choose your partners carefully
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Work only with people you can count on and trust.

Do good

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

Meet new people all the time

Meet new people all the time
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Take every opportunity to expand your network and expose yourself to new experiences and perspectives.

Stay in touch with your emotions

Stay in touch with your emotions
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Don’t be a robot -- let yourself feel.

Temper your reactions

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

Have fun

Have fun
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Take the time to have fun with your team.

Research everything

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

Think everything through

Think everything through
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Never exclusively trust your instincts or first reactions.

Choose your team carefully

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

Prioritize your team

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

Be humble.

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

Related: 10 Habits of Ultra-Likable Leaders

Forgive mistakes

Forgive mistakes
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Everyone makes them.

Forgive yourself

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

Be rational

Be rational
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Make decisions logically.

Be reasonable

Be reasonable
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Listen to dissenting opinions, and be fair.

Make time for what’s important

Make time for what’s important
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There’s no such thing as “not having time” for what’s really important in your life. Make the time.

Constantly learn

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

Improve everything

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

Never give up

Never give up
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Don’t throw in the towel when a little extra persistence could put you over the edge.

Transform your methods when necessary

Transform your methods when necessary
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If something isn’t working, change your approach

Cut your losses when necessary

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

Learn from your mistakes

Learn from your mistakes
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Try not to make the same mistakes twice

Ground everything with data

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

Don’t ignore signs of stress

Don’t ignore signs of stress
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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

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

Trust, but verify

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

Be approachable

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

Treat everyone equally

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

Don’t pursue close personal relationships with the team

Don’t pursue close personal relationships with the team
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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

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

Return favors

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

Don’t burn bridges

Don’t burn bridges
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Never cut a contact completely out of your life.

Stay in touch

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

Don’t sacrifice your personal life

Don’t sacrifice your personal life
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Your personal life is necessary to retain your own mental health. Never sacrifice it for the sake of leadership or professional responsibilities.

Enjoy leadership

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

Take advice with a grain of salt

Take advice with a grain of salt
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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
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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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