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How to Transcend from a “Good” Leader to a “Great” Leader

Becoming a great leader isn’t easy. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said,  “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”

That’s the one thing that sets a good leader apart from a great leader. Worse, it isn’t always clear how to achieve that status.

Some say people are born leaders, while others are born followers. Others say you’re born with a blank slate and can be made into a leader with the proper training. Whatever you believe, learning from already-successful leaders is the best way to improve your leadership skills.

Here are Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 10 Secrets of Successful Leaders:

1. Assemble a Dedicated Team

A business is only as strong as its weakest link. That being said, your team is the most important thing in your business. Hiring a team of passionate employees who get your mission, share your passion, and blend in seamlessly with your culture is key. That way, they will go above and beyond with everything they do. The best leaders hire the best people and are selective. Never sacrifice quality for quantity if you’re looking to hire more people as your business grows.

2. Overcommunicate 

This one sounds scary, but don’t fret quite yet. Normally, keeping communication to a minimum is most effective. Being bombarded with emails that only 5% of people need to see is completely unoptimized.

This isn’t what we mean by overcommunicating. Overcommunicate company happenings so everyone has up-to-date information. Recently featured in a press release? Make sure everyone on your team knows. Overcommunicate your goals and make sure people set goals for themselves. This not only creates accountability, but people are always in the know with what’s going on.

This can be done through a weekly newsletter, blog, or even social media. Trust us…it works!

3. Don’t Assume

This one is a biggie. When you run a small business, you might assume that everyone in your team knows your mission, goals, and what you envision the future to be. Don’t assume anything! Hammer home your mission. Remind them why you hired them. Let them know your goals for the company.

It’s important to paint a picture of your company’s future, and where they fit in. Also, ask your team where they see themselves in a year, five years, ten years. Your team will feel excited as they become a part of your growth and reap the rewards.

4. Be Authentic

Great leaders instill their personality and beliefs into the fabric of their organization. Be yourself. Don’t try to act like someone else, and surround yourself with people who are aligned with your values. Just by doing that, your business is more likely to succeed. We all know those people who assume a certain personality because they think that’s what people expect, but this is the furthest thing from the truth. Your team will be much more attracted to a company whose personality reflects your personality.

5. Know Your Obstacles

Most entrepreneurs are optimistic and certain that they’re driving toward their goals. But, a short-sighted leader doesn’t take the time to understand his or her obstacles. That mindset is a recipe for disaster. You need to know what you’re up against, that way you can plan around it.

6. Create a “Team Charter”

Too many new teams race down the road before they even figure out who they are, where they’re going, and what will guide their journey, says Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One-Minute Manager (William Morrow & Co., 1982). Just calling together a team and giving them a clear charge does not mean the team will succeed.

“It’s important to create a set of agreements that clearly states what the team is to accomplish, why it is important and how the team will work together to achieve the desired results,” says Blanchard. “The charter provides a record of common agreements and can be modified as the business grows and the team’s needs change.”

This charter can be something as simple as a sales chart with each salesperson’s name, a shared/personal goals spreadsheet, etc. Setting personal and shared goals is essential to a successful growing business.

7. Believe in Your People

Entrepreneurial leaders must help their people develop confidence, especially during tough times. That confidence comes in part from believing in your team.  If you think of your people as 10s and treat them like 10s, they perform like 10s.  But believing in people alone isn’t enough. You have to help them win. Make sure you are there to guide them to success. Share your knowledge. Make sure they are learning something new every day.

8. Dole Out Credit

We all know that phrase, “give credit where credit is due.” The same goes for your team members. Pay attention to their accomplishments and let them know you noticed. This will bring a smile to their face every time. It’s always nice to be recognized for something you did right.

Don’t be an entrepreneur who is too in love with his own ideas to dole out credit to those who have better ideas. You’re a team, not a bureaucracy. You really know a successful organization when other employees can do a better job at what they do than the CEO could.

9. Keep Your Team Engaged

Great leaders give their teams challenges and get them excited about them. It’s important to keep the passion alive. Set challenging yet reasonable goals. Give your team autonomy to learn and grow within your company.

10. Stay Calm

An entrepreneur has to backstop the team from overreacting to short-term situations, such as the current economic crisis. The best leaders thrive in tough times. Some of the most successful companies were created in economic crises, including Apple, FedEx, and GE.




Biomedical Engineer who earned his degree from The Johns Hopkins University & Columbia University. Named one of Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30 in 2013. Co-Founded America’s first Pure Play healthy vending company in 2003.
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