90 Powerful Ways to Become a Highly Successful Leader

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If you’re starting a new position or role, or your leadership just needs a refresher use these 90 powerful tips over the first three months to get your leadership on track.

It’s a tough statistic: 40 percent of leaders going into a new roles fail in their first 18 months. An estimated one-third of outside senior hires fail.

In any position, your effectiveness and trajectory are powerfully affected by choices you make – so how can you best make them count?

By having your very own playbook for success like this one: 

1.   Get A Head Start. Build relationships before you begin your new position. Think of whom you can talk to within the company who can guide you in your new position.

2.  Take A Reset Vacation. Before beginning a new role, separate yourself from the old one. Take some time off to give yourself some much-needed rest.

3.   Inform Your Loved Ones. A new role might mean a different schedule and more late nights for a while. Do what you need to assure your family and friends that you’ll do your best to be available.

4.   Stay In Shape. Make firm commitments with yourself to maintain good habits— because with new positions come stress and with stress comes anxiety.

5.   Take Control Of  Your  Start. Make sure the time you start your new position or role works for you. If you need to start later, negotiate for yourself. Be collaborative in manner but do what works for you and sets the right tone.

6.   Do Your Homework. Before you begin anything, find out the software and processes that are used and get up to speed.

7.   Focus On Systems. Use processes that work for you; develop systems that meet your needs and make your life easier. Make sure you can track progress and milestones, and that you have all you need to be effective.

8.   Model The Day. Practice modeling the perfect productive day—figure out what is important and determine priorities. Plan your meetings and create your systems. Build a model for what a good day feels like in this role.

9.   Learn The Foundation. Make sure you really know the mission of the company, what it stands for, what it wants to achieve.

10.  Roles And Rules. What are the functional roles within your team? How do they relate to what you want to achieve?

11.   Learn The Value Proposition.  Make sure you understand the value proposition of your team, your company and those who you work with you.

12.   Create A One-Pager. Prepare yourself with a summary of the mission, purpose and values of the company, along with the trends and innovations within your industry.

13.   Personal Planner. Make a personal plan based on where you want to be 90 days from now. Set goals and objectives; outline concerns and problems that you will deal with.

14.   Brainstorm.  You’ll need to brainstorm to set priorities and begin implementing plans without stepping on anyone’s toes.

15.   Take Small Steps. Your list may be long and arduous, but with small incremental steps you can set things in position.

16.   Make A Powerful Impression
. People will vividly remember their first impressions of you. Make sure they’re positive.

17.   Speak To Your Team. Introduce yourself personally to each member of your team, and schedule an individual meeting.

18.   Walk In Their Shoes. Remember how apprehensive and uncertain it can feel to have a new leader, new ways of doing things, new priorities.

19.   Ask Lots Of Questions. Ask thoughtful questions and always listen intently.

20.  Visit Important Facilities.  If you’re at a new organization, make a point of familiarizing yourself with security, HR, IT, and the financial offices.

21.  Reach Out To Your Peers. Listen, ask questions, and start building a new network.

22.  Learn And Listen.
Make it a point to learn and listen about the status of the company and its key initiatives.

23.  Look At Assignments.
Make sure you have the right people in the right roles.

24.  Manage Up, Down And Across. Managing across and down are important, but if you don’t manage up you’re toast. “Up” includes each member of the executive team or your boss’s peers who control access to resources you need. If you’re in a senior leadership position, communicate one-on-one with your board members and major investors or donors early.

25.  Summarize.
 People will be asking about your background and experience; be prepared to speak about yourself clearly and concisely.

26.  Set Up Reminders. Make sure you’re following up and staying focused.

27.  Be Respectful Of Time. The biggest hurdle in the beginning will be time, so learn to be respectful of your time and that of others.

28.  Get It Done. You’ll feel overwhelmed if you don’t have a plan—figure out what needs to get done and get it done.

29.  Don’t Chase Fires. When you start a new position, everything seems urgent. Determine what you should deal with now and what you can put off for later.

30.  Stay Neutral And Calm. Don’t adopt anybody else’s agenda or issues.

31.  Be Available. Don’t hide behind closed doors because you are feeling overwhelmed; it is the worst thing if people have to come and seek you out. Make yourself visible and available

32.  Learn What Matters. Learn what matters to your people and how you can help them achieve their goals.

33.  Create A Spreadsheet Of Power. Make a mind map of what each person does, what you want from them and how you can support them. Keep it up to date.

34.  Draw Boundaries. Determine what you can control, what you will make your own, what you will want to give approval on, and where you will have a say.

35.   Learn To Delegate. Figure out which tasks you will delegate and to whom. Give concise instructions and all the information they need to excel.

36.   Check Yourself At Benchmarks. After your first 30 days, provide a summary back to the organization of your findings. Draft what actions you intend to take based on what you’ve learned. Invite others to give you feedback.

37.   Measure Your Steps. Let them know when it will be accomplished and how, and that everything will be measured for results.

38.   Don’t Rush. Be realistic about the pace of change. Change can not be driven; it can only be inspired and motivated by you as a leader.

39.   Keep Milestones Attainable. Set realistic milestones that can be met and tie them to appropriate rewards.

40.  Draw Up A Team Road Map. Work with your team to develop a road map of its mission, purpose, values and roles. Let them know that success is a partnership.

41.  Revisit The Strategic Plan. Is it still applicable for the forward motion, vision and purpose of the organization?

42.  
Align.  You want everyone from every team and department to be aligned on the company’s mission and purpose so they know how to make decisions and interact with colleagues and clients.

43.   Say NO. You don’t want to disappoint. But if you have to say no, let them know why. Teach your team the distinction between what is important and what is urgent, what gets approved and what doesn’t.

44.   Remember, You Can’t Please Everyone. But let everyone know you are here to do the best you can.

45.   Lead From Your Sweet Spot. Let people know what you are good at and what your strengths are. Let them get to you know for your strengths.

46.   Don’t Gossip. There will be stories to tell and stories to listen to, but don’t gossip. Don’t talk about the last leader or let team members talk about others. Keep your conversations professional.

47.   Deal With Your Weak Spots. Be wise enough to know your weak spots and be mindful on how you lead with them. Don’t try to pretend you’re perfect.

48.  Find The Experts. You don’t need to know everything—find the experts that can help you excel.

49.  Surround Yourself  With The Right People.  Build a network of diverse perspectives, talents, and intelligence.

50.   Let People See You Working Hard. It is important that people know what you are doing and that you are dedicated. Let people know you are serious.

51.   Don’t Let It Get To Your Head. Being in a new position is no time for ego. View it as a privilege.

52.   Build Relationships. Go deeper than the meet and greet.

53.   Make It Personal. Find out who everyone on your team is and what is important to them, professionally and personally.

54.   Mind Your Brand. Everyone has a message—make sure you can speak yours from the heart.

55.   Know Your Values. Make a list of what you stand for and what you will not tolerate. Let everyone know you have high standards and you spend your time meeting them every day.

56.   Remember Your Story Matters. Who you are, where you came from, what you value—they’re all relevant.

57.   Take It From “ME” To “WE”. Ask your team for ideas about how you can best collaborate to do something important.

58.   Don’t Let Distractions Get The Best Of  You. There will be lots of distractions—keep your focus.

59.   Show And Tell. Give good direction, especially with people who haven’t worked with you before.

60.   Don’t Keep Them Guessing.
The worst thing you can do is failing to communicate with your team, your peers, and your bosses.

61.    Make It Easy For Others. Do everything in your power to simplify their work and to help them be successful.

62.    Define Priorities. Let your team know what you consider urgent and what constitutes a priority. Let them know how best to communicate with you in both cases.

63.    Set A Response Time. Let those around you know what to expect from you in terms of response time for voice mail, emails or any kind of communication, even in off hours.

64.    Disclose.    Let your team know what you will absolutely not tolerate.

65.    Let Them Get To Know You. It’s the path to effective collaboration, connection, and communication.

66.    Constantly Build Trust. Consistently work to build an atmosphere of trust that begins with you.

67.    Model The Behavior You Want.
For example, put your own phone away at the beginning of your team meeting.

68.    Catch Problems Early. Learn how to identify and solve problems and find solutions before things become overwhelming.

69.    Reinforce Your Team’s Efforts. Show appreciation of their efforts and recognize their hard work.

70.    Pick Your Battles. Make sure they’re worth it.

71.    Be Reasonable. Don’t set expectations so high that no one can live up to them.

72.    Expect A Lot And Appreciate Even More. Set a high bar for performance, and reward it with gratitude.

73.    Always Be Positive. Always have a positive attitude and speak nicely about others. People are looking to you to set a tone.

74.    Go After Quick Wins. The energize teams and give you momentum.

75.    Plan To Succeed. Spend a few minutes in planning every day, however busy things are.

76.    Communicate Often. Never be inaccessible or hidden away.

77.    Tell Them A Compelling Story. When you need buy-in, remember that people resonate with a great story.

78.    Let Curiosity Kill The Can’t. Let everyone know how much you value curiosity.

79.    Run Great Meetings. To win hearts of your people, run great meetings. Make them fun and productive, memorable and measurable.

80.    Admit Your Mistakes. Let others know it’s OK to make mistakes as long as they don’t keep repeating them. Make the most out of mistakes; figure out what went wrong and learn how to do it better next time.

81.    Invest In Your People. Do all that you can to support them.

82.    Grow More Leaders. Give people the confidence they need and grow them to the next level.

83.    Ask For Help. Sometimes you just have to call in an expert or coach.

84.    Opinions Matter. Make it easy for people to share and speak their mind.

85.    Celebrate Diversity. The best teams seek out diversity and make the best use of it.

86.    Look For Talent Everywhere. Keep your eyes open to the value in others and think of ways to utilize their talents.

87.    Keep Them Informed. Put together a monthly newsletter or spreadsheet that lets people stay aligned and informed.

88.    Have Confidence. Believe in yourself and in your team; let them know you have the confidence to succeed and so do they.

89.    Keep Your Hands Off  The Wheel. Don’t micromanage or become a control freak. Let people show you what they can do.

90.    Stay Smart And Heart-Centered. Whatever you do, the first 90 days will be a road map for the rest of your leadership. Be smart about what you do and do all that you can to show that you care. Leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together, to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose.

Lead From Within: If you follow these 90 powerful tips you will go beyond being a successful leader. You will imprint hearts and minds of those you lead.

[box]Lolly Daskal is the president and Founder of Lead From Within a consulting firm specializing in executive leadership coaching and customized leadership programs. Connect with Lolly Daskal[/box]

Additional Reading:

At The Risk Of Being Changed

• The Power Of Parting: 7 Things You Need To Stop Doing 

Lead From Where You Are And With All That You 

The Wisdom Of Whole Hearted Leading

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness is being released by Portfolio May 2017.

11 Responses to “90 Powerful Ways to Become a Highly Successful Leader”

  1. Panteli Tritchew

    26. Aug, 2015

    …This is a great list, and all 90 are important. The statistic that 40 percent of new hires fail in their first 18 months is alarming, but not surprising.
    …With 90 items on the list, we could cluster them in numerous categories, but for any of those actions to work meaningfully, a key skill would be listening, and for that skill to be work, a key character trait would be open-mindedness, aka willingness to learn, what might more simply be called…humility.
    …Have a great week, Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  2. bikihamza

    26. Aug, 2015

    Many items in fact give a stimulus in principle and show the way from the beginning at least. Each item of 90 can be considered as an integrated skill said Panteli Tritchew
    And play a personal role in inspiring and most prominent lolly Thanks to the great effort your week beautiful

    Reply to this comment
  3. Ray Brown

    29. Aug, 2015

    Great list lolly. I particularly like, find the experts and move from me to we. Related to finding the experts is “get yourself at least one reliable mentor”. Understanding the power of coaching and mentoring, as well as the difference between the two concepts, is a key leadership differentiator.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Laura Beth Cowan

    15. Nov, 2015

    This is a very helpful list Lolly! Several of these are important reminders that I wish I had known in the past. Thanks for the post!

    Just stumbled on your blog from Twitter and looking forward to reading more.

    Laura Beth

    Reply to this comment
  5. Sanaul Haque

    03. Jan, 2017

    Reply to this comment

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