What Makes a Thoughtful Leader, Based on My Experience

If you’ve watched successful leaders in your own professional life, or prominent leaders on the world stage, you probably recognize some common traits in their approach to business and relationships.

Based on my own experience in leadership roles, whether it be at Anson Funds or the Moez and Marissa Kassam Foundation, I’ve seen that successful leadership begins with cultivating, inspiring and winning the loyalty of the team. That team represents your colleagues, peers, employees, associates or anyone cheering for you on the sidelines.

Once you’ve earned the trust of the team, they’re ready to follow your vision. A successful leader always keeps focus on that vision, moving steadily toward key goals — whatever that may entail. That’ s just one of a few traits , I think, successful leaders hold. Here are a few others:

What You Do Has a Greater Impact Than What You Say

Thoughtful leaders focus on nurturing the people they lead, identifying their strengths and encouraging growth in these traits and talents.

As John Quincy Adams noted: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

If You Delegate Authority, You Will Build Leaders

As you maximize the potential of your team, you must also trust them to handle the missions you give them. That means standing aside and letting your people soar.

Teddy Roosevelt summarized it this way: “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

Take More of a Share in the Blame, than the Credit

For some, sharing credit is the hardest part of being a leader. It shouldn’t be. Successful leaders recognize the importance of giving credit where credit is due — and even giving credit when it isn’t due.

There’s no downside to giving credit, praise and encourage those you are leading  –  there is a tremendous upside. In the long run, observers will judge a leader based on the success of their business or organization. Ultimately, you will get the credit — it’s up to you to make it about success and not failure.

As author John Maxwell wrote: “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”

Economist Thomas Friedman took the concept a step further: “If you want to solve a big problem, you need to go from taking credit, to sharing credit, to multiplying credit. The systems that all work, multiply credit. Multiplying credit is just another way of making everyone in the system feel ownership. And the byproduct is both resilience and propulsion.”

Raise Your Awareness and Cultivate Your Uniqueness

Keep a balanced perspective on the challenges before you, the resources available and the opportunities yet to be discovered. 

As John Maxwell observed: “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”