The Most Overlooked Habits of Great Leaders

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 6.24.00 AMThere are a few habits that are frequently overlooked but that can make a difference between a good leader and a great one.

All leaders want to do better than just being good at what they do. They tend to share a passionate desire to be great.

To be a great leader, you have to be able to lead others purposefully, communicate effectively, deliver results successfully, and measure progress efficiently.

But there is more to great leadership than external success. From what I’ve seen, the secret lies not with particular actions or methodologies, but with internal habits that are often completely overlooked.

Here are the five of the most important.

1. Great leaders admit mistakes. No one wants to stand in front of people who look up to you and admit that you made a mistake or experienced an epic failure—when you know people trust you and count on you, it’s hard to say things that you know will let them down. That’s why so many leaders will do everything they can to cover up their failures. But great leaders do swallow their pride and admit their mistakes. They know the importance of taking responsibility  and they understand that the best way to salvage value from a disaster is to model integrity and face the consequences of their actions. The best leaders are humble enough to admit their mistakes and honorable enough to learn from them.

2. Great leaders give credit. It’s the flip side of taking responsibility for what goes wrong—giving credit for the things that go well. Egotistic leaders are quick to take credit for their team’s achievements, but when people stop feeling appreciated and recognized, their personal investment and care in their work begin to decline. Great leaders are quick to take the spotlight off themselves to express gratitude and appreciation to those around them whose hard work led to success.

3. Great leaders tell the truth. It’s always tempting to gloss over the differences that can lead to conflict or challenges, but great leaders understand that the experience of resolving those conflicts gives their team better communication skills and deeper connections. It also means that no one has to feel their concerns are off limits, leading to more transparency that benefits everyone. At the same time, great leaders know that honesty doesn’t have to be brutal or blunt, and they show their teams how to express honest thoughts in a spirit of respect and kindness.

4. Great leaders inspire. Being a leader means constantly having to solve problems, stave off challenges, develop compromises and find solutions. It can be easy to lose the forest of leadership for the trees of the day-to-day challenges. But finding the energy and time to inspire those around you is at the heart of great leadership. Leadership is about making other people better as a result of your presence in a way that continues to inspire them in your absence. At its best, it’s based not on domination but cooperation, not intimidation but inspiration.

5. Great leaders lead from within. Great leaders understand that their leadership begins with themselves. if you want to be a better leader, you need to first learn who you are. When you can understand yourself, you can understand others. Once you become a leader your focus naturally moves from developing yourself to developing others—but they are two sides of the same thing. When you lead from within, you improve yourself and your way of being, and in doing so you reach a new level of great leadership.

These five habits may not be on the top of anyone’s leadership list, but following them will bring you a leadership that’s genuine and authentic.

Lead From Within: Sometimes we get so busy with trying to be good that we forget we can be great.



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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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,, 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. Bill

    16. Aug, 2016

    Thanks for the recent email on leadership and for giving such great value!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Robert B

    17. Aug, 2016

    Great 5 points, though I would add another 2:
    6. Great leaders lead by example
    7. Great leaders emanate emotions, especially enthusiasm

    Reply to this comment
  3. Santosh Kanekar

    22. Aug, 2016

    A wonderful post again.

    In a world where the need for authentic leadership has increased, it’s great to see how you consistently call out the heart-centered approach.

    The first habit of acknowledging mistakes itself sets the tone for a leadership which is more humane, vulnerable and authentic.

    Thanks for this

    Reply to this comment
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  5. Greg Salvato

    05. Oct, 2016

    Love #4, Lolly! Effective leaders are directly involved with every level of the organization and employ creative solutions to communicate with, mentor and inspire individuals and teams.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Jack

    20. Aug, 2017

    Great leaders are great at developing other leaders.

    Reply to this comment

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