6 Lessons Every Great Leader Learns on the Job

If you’ve ever taken leadership courses or training you have a good start, but there are some lessons that you can only truly learn on the job through trial and error.

Here are six of the most important lessons that every great leader will end up learning on the job.

1. The courage to be yourself: You can’t learn how to be authentic; you just have to be real. You can’t tell someone you’re genuine; you just have to honestly and truly be yourself. All your faults and weakness, all your strengths and gifts—when they are out and you are OK with it, when you know you are strong and you have room to be vulnerable, that is something no one can teach you. It has to come from within.

2. The quieter you become the more you can hear: Trainings and workshops teach leaders how to communicate well, and especially how to speak concisely and clearly. But they don’t teach you how to actually listen—how to be silent in your mind when another speaks so you can listen to understand, not to reply. Too often leaders think that in order to succeed they need to do most of the talking, but those who are most admired spend more time listening than speaking.

3. To trust is a two way street:  No one teaches you trust—either you trust or you don’t. But as a leader, you quickly discover that giving trust first earns you trust. And without trust you can’t truly collaborate. Trust transforms relationships; it makes a group of people into a team. Take the lesson and find the value of being the first to trust.

4. You may never be perfect, but you can always be loyal: Loyalty can be discussed but never really taught, because its only source is a strong sense of dedication and duty toward others. It comes from understanding what it means to be dependable and reliable. Those who have loyalty give it freely and generously.

5. You will be stubborn about flexibility: You can tell people the benefits of being agile, but you cannot teach them to be flexible. Unless you are in the dregs of difficulties and being constantly challenged you will never truly know the essence of flexibility. It is only when things are flying at you at warp speed and changing from moment to moment that you can learn how to constantly make the adjustments that will keep you on track.

6. The secret of appreciation is… it comes from the heart: You can tell people to care and to give praise, you can teach them how to acknowledge, but to truly appreciate someone you have to speak from your heart. It’s a lesson great leaders have learned well; they go out of their way to show appreciation and let their people know how they make a difference. They understand that the task of the leader is not to put greatness into people but to elicit the greatness that is there already.

When you’ve been through the best training program that life can offer—the program of learning by doing (and by sometimes getting it wrong)—you’ll be fully prepared to step into your own version of great leadership.

Lead from Within: The most important leadership lessons will come from staying open to learning, because learning isn’t done to you, it’s something you choose to do.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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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 has become a national bestseller.

  1. Salman

    19. Jun, 2016

    Nice article.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Christopher

    01. Jul, 2016

    This is a very informative and useful well written article. Thank you!
    – Chris

    Reply to this comment
  3. Cedri

    12. Aug, 2016

    Good points.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Halal

    30. Aug, 2016

    Great article

    Reply to this comment
  5. Todd

    17. Oct, 2016

    At work recently we were coached on how to show appreciation. The method was to say something positive about a person while talking to a different person, with the intended recipient within ear shot.

    I’m pretty sure that our overhead management has never heard of Lolly nor do they have a clue.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Nji E

    15. Sep, 2017

    Great article! Thanks Lolly

    Reply to this comment

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