Exploring Leadership Beyond Instinct

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Exploring Leadership Beyond Instinct

Effective leadership depends not on your ability, but rather on your commitment to change. Your journey as a leader begins with a deliberate decision and continues through personal growth that stretches you to become far more than your natural self.

Rethinking Our Definition of Effective Leadership

Definitions of effective leadership that rely on innate qualities like “influence” and “charisma” are overly narrow. The fact is that leadership skills aren’t natural. To be a leader, you must make the conscious choice to go against the grain.

Think about how people tend to respond. When hurt, they pull away. When confronted, they back off. When challenged, they become defensive. When irritated, they lash out. Though these responses are ingrained in human nature, they often have disastrous consequences for leaders and the people they manage.

To become a great leader, you must identify the natural instincts that get in your way and strive to become a better person. When you change your reactions, you can experience genuine transformation. With enough work and practice, this higher level of behavior can become your new natural.

Effective Leadership Begins With a Choice

If you accept the fundamental premise that leadership is a choice, rather than a natural ability or a position, you must also accept its far-reaching ramifications. The choice to become a leader demands sacrifices and changes that will drastically impact your life and change who you are. Once you’ve made the decision, you can no longer do what comes most naturally.

To ensure you are ready, ask yourself three questions. First, ask why you want to lead. If your motivation is anything other than serving others, nurturing their growth, and assisting them to realize their goals, reconsider your intentions.

Real leadership isn’t about power and prestige. The road of a leader is plagued by tough calls, conflict, doubts, and fears. The downsides of leadership only balance out if you can use your role to serve others.

Next, ask if you’re willing to develop into the role. If you’re not open to examining both your strengths and weaknesses under a microscope, you put everyone under you at risk.

To grow as a leader, you must work diligently to solicit feedback from trusted mentors, reflect on what you bring to the table, and shore up flaws. People love to argue whether top leaders are born or made. While some are born with a greater helping of leadership skills, others hone their abilities, but ability is never more important than the desire for personal growth and development.

Third, ask yourself if you’re prepared for discomfort. As a leader, you’ll be the first to venture into new frontiers, routinely encounter transitions, and help your team adapt to them.

For most, the natural response to uncertainty is anxiety and stress. Consider whether challenging circumstances motivate you to shut down or to innovate novel solutions. It takes work to become accustomed to discomfort, but if you commit to lead, you can rise above that natural trait.

Develop Leadership Skills Through 52 Maxims   

Once you decide to become a leader, only deliberate effort and consistent practice can enable you to rise above your natural instincts. To help you navigate this transition, we compiled 52 maxims — one for each week of the year. Along with each maxim are practical exercises to promote self-reflection and support as you initiate the change,

Essentially, you’ll learn to prioritize your team, facilitate their development, and celebrate their success. You know you’ve arrived as a leader when your team is fully equipped to take your place.

As you grow through self-reflection and trusted feedback, your newfound insight will equip you to confront conflict head-on, welcome uncertainty, and learn from failure. The advantages of going against your nature will become apparent as you inspire trust through transparency, become a person people listen to, explore diverse viewpoints, set boundaries that benefit your team, and understand the people who follow you on a whole new level.

Through the entire transformation, you’ll keep one goal before you. All of your work ultimately achieves the single purpose of leading your team forward. You lead so they can thrive.

About the Author

Joe Judge is co-author of Leadership is Overcoming the Natural: 52 Maxims to Move Beyond Instinct

Leadership Beyond Reflection: Applying Insights for Impact

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Leadership Beyond Reflection: Applying Insights for Impact

In today’s evolving and emotionally intelligent professional landscape, leadership isn’t solely about possessing innate qualities or holding authoritative positions. Leadership requires continuous growth, adaptation, and a willingness to learn from one’s experiences. 

At the heart of this process lies the invaluable practice of self-reflection — essential for honing leadership skills and fostering personal development. Yet, while self-reflection serves as a powerful tool for insight, its true potency lies in its application of the actionable steps taken to leverage what one learns. 

Unlocking the Power of Action in Leadership

The core of strong leadership isn’t solely confined to contemplating one’s experiences, strengths, or areas of opportunity. The power lies in one’s ability to take that pivotal step forward by implementing these reflections and leaning into taking the steps to truly elevate your leadership. 

Acting is the igniting force that transforms self-reflection from information or data points into driving forces for impactful leadership evolution. In essence, it’s the fusion of thoughtful contemplation and deliberate action that steers leadership toward transformation and excellence.

Measuring Progress in Leadership Development

Measuring progress is an indispensable compass for development. This entails acknowledging the insights gained through self-reflection and then quantifying and evaluating the impact of these insights and what needs to happen to apply them. Once you establish the steps you need to take, you can track your progress.

Effectively measuring progress involves the establishment of benchmarks and the identification of key performance indicators (KPIs) as guiding metrics. Leaders committed to their development identify tangible and quantifiable goals along with benchmarks and steps to track advancement.

Another critical way to measure progress is to have a personal board of advisors. They typically consist of individuals with diverse backgrounds, expertise, and experiences. Advisors can offer objective feedback and guidance, as they are not directly involved in the leader’s day-to-day operations. This objectivity can help leaders see their blind spots that can hinder progress.

The monitoring process validates the efficacy of the journey and offers invaluable insights into the areas requiring further attention and refinement in the pursuit of leadership excellence.

Practical Strategies for Immediate Impact

Realistic strategies represent the actionable steps that leaders can readily employ for significant impact. These strategies should cover a spectrum of actionable measures that leaders can seamlessly integrate into their daily practices, catalyzing personal and professional growth.

One such impactful strategy involves the cultivation of a growth mindset. Self-reflection helps identify areas for improvement, and consciously adopting a mindset centered on continuous learning and development allows one to realize their goals. 

Additionally, cultivating an environment conducive to open feedback — both in giving and receiving — is integral to leadership development. Embracing feedback acts as a catalyst for self-improvement, allowing leaders to refine their approaches based on external perspectives and insights.

Furthermore, setting S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals transforms abstract aspirations into concrete and achievable objectives. Additionally, integrating mindfulness and introspection into daily routines enhances self-awareness, an invaluable asset for effective leadership.

These practical strategies serve as actionable steps to foster immediate impact on leadership growth and efficacy. They act as conduits translating thoughtful contemplation into practical action, guiding leaders toward transformative and impactful evolution.

Ultimately, leadership is a continuous journey of learning and self-improvement, catalyzed by the mindful practice of self-reflection, the harnessing of its insights through quantifiable goals and observable behavioral shifts, and the manifestation of its revelations through impactful strategies. Leadership pivots not merely on contemplation, but also on the ability to convert insights into transformative action.

About the Author

Paul Bramson has been described as a powerhouse on keynote stages and in training arenas. He is distinguished as being one of the most effective speakers, trainers, and C-suite coaches in the world today. With over 25 years of experience, he is considered a global authority and thought leader in the areas of leadership, sales & communication. Paul grew up in Boston, graduated from Boston University, and currently resides in Atlanta, GA.

Top Tips to Become a More Effective Leader in a Medium-Sized Corporation

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Top Tips to Become a More Effective Leader in a Medium-Sized Corporation

There has been a long-standing debate about whether effective leaders are born or made. Put simply, is a great leader created by having suitable access to professional learning and development that boosts their leadership skillset, or are they simply destined to be great leaders because of innate personality and intellectual traits?

A genuinely great leader subscribes to a philosophy of lifelong learning and is willing to develop key skills such as critical thinking and communication as they progress in a corporate environment. While some leaders may be intrinsically more suited to such roles, it is evident that leadership skills can be developed and improved over time. This article will discuss some key tips that will help all leaders in medium-sized firms become more effective.

Be Visible to the Workforce

A medium-sized enterprise is typically thought to be one that employs between 50 to 249 staff members. An organization of this size presents some challenges, as an effective leader should be visible to all levels of the workforce. By being visible to all staff members, leaders can serve to motivate and empower staff while demonstrating the values and aspirations of the company in both words and actions.

This is more difficult to achieve in a medium-sized organization when compared to a smaller one. However, some ways to be visible as a leader go beyond simply visiting each worker in person. Consider setting up a dedicated email box where employees can reach you when they have questions, queries, or comments for leaders.

In addition, provide a function where they can also request face-to-face meetings with you, which can be added to your working calendar. Ideally, you may also wish to hold meetings with whole teams or departments so that many staff can speak with you in a shorter period.

Use Reporting Software to Educate Yourself and Others

Leaders require access to the latest corporate information and performance statistics. They use this to gain key insights into how well the organization performs and which areas need improvement. These insights can then be disseminated to the wider workforce to raise standards in key areas. High value insights can be gained by using association management software (AMS) packages.

These platforms commonly contain reporting applications that can transform corporate data into meaningful and actionable insights. Many AWS solutions use powerful analytics programs to drive the analysis of company information and can quickly produce performance dashboards that measure key indicators and metrics.

Put simply, leaders need access to the latest information to disseminate key objectives and ensure that they are aware of the current position on various objectives. AMS software provides a comprehensive solution for reporting needs and should be considered an essential tool for effective leaders.

To Sum Up

Leaders need to be visible in the workplace to motivate and inspire other staff while being a knowledge source. In a medium-sized firm, this can be achieved by meeting with groups and teams while also being able to be contacted by email to book face-to-face individual meetings. In addition, leaders should have access to the latest reporting software so they can be fully informed on the progress of tasks and where performance needs to improve.

3 Ways to Be a Respected Leader Within Your Organization

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | 3 Ways to Be a Respected Leader Within Your Organization

Am I a good boss? It is a question that every business leader asks themselves at one point or another because when you oversee so many people, you want to make sure that you do a good job.

What’s more, because you are responsible for the livelihoods of all your employees, few of them are ever going to have the courage to tell the truth about your leadership abilities to your face. This leaves you in a weird twilight world where you have to guess what the right leadership move is without anyone to feedback to.

This can easily make you feel insecure, especially if it is your first leadership position and you don’t have the most experience in an authoritative role.

Of course, there are a thousand different ways to be a great leader, but one of the most underappreciated factors is respect. You can read every business management book under the sun, but if your team doesn’t respect you, you will stand little hope of driving your ideas forward or being taken seriously.

To help, here are three ways to become a respected leader within your company.

1. Give Your Team Everything They Need to Succeed 

The first step you need to take if you want to become a respected leader within your organization is to provide your team with everything they need to succeed.

The reason why this is vital is that if your employees don’t feel as if they are given the best chance to perform at their highest potential, and then you call that potential into question later down the line, they are going to doubt your judgment as a leader.

The relationship between a leader and their team only works if both sides trust one another and believe that they have their best interests at heart. If you essentially tie one arm behind their backs before they have even started, the relationship will be off to a bad start.

Therefore, equip your facilities with everything your business needs to thrive – whether it be a Centrifugal blower in an industrial facility or software in an office.

2. Listen to Feedback

Another great tip for becoming a respected leader is to always listen to feedback from others. Like anything in life, you are only ever going to grow as a boss if you are reflecting on your weaknesses, learning from your mistakes, and vowing to do better in the future.

This is why you must lay your ego aside and listen – particularly when it is members of your workforce providing their own views on your leadership style or actions you have taken.

While some of these will be nothing more than petty complaints, you should still listen and try to derive some valuable feedback from them.

3. Do Not Micromanage

Micromanagement is one of the worst attributes you can have as a leader because it proves that you cannot lead.

The point of being in charge is that you can delegate responsibility to others who are more qualified than you rather than hogging all the jobs yourself out of insecurity and mean-spiritedness.

This demonstrates a lack of trust in your workforce, which is hardly the right message to send if you want them to respect you.

Traits That Make An Official A Leader

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Traits of a Leader|Traits That Make An Official A LeaderBeing an official is all about your rank in an organization, while being a leader requires a significant number of traits that may only be present in some officials. These traits make you stand out as a leader in a room full of officials. You can be an official or a manager by following a particular set of rules to judge your credibility. However, being a leader is so much more than that.

A leader is someone who has the capabilities and potential enough to lead the masses with their skills. Leaders not only teach their followers but also influence them greatly. To make such an impact on people, you need to attain courage, self-awareness, integrity, respect, and remarkable communication skills. Some critical traits that make you a leader are as follows:

1. You must have a Vision

One of the most needed traits to be qualified as a leader while being an official is having the vision to lead those following you. The ability to foresee the bigger picture is a must-have when you are working in an organization or company. A leader with a broad vision can recognize their team’s capabilities and shortcomings and make better plans and strategies to reach the desired goals. Having an in-depth vision makes a leader acknowledge and solve problems better.

2. Communication skills

To be able to influence people, a leader must communicate in a way that is efficient and understandable to everyone. However, speaking in a manner that resonates with your subordinates is one of many things that make a great leader. Their active listening skills also hold great importance in this regard. Leaders with exceptional communication and listening skills may also find their place in executive search in various fields such as education, health, charity organizations, etc. and be respected by all.

3. Critical Thinking and Decisive Skills

A good leader is one with critical thinking. A leader’s ability to anticipate their team’s capabilities and weaknesses and plan accordingly helps the organization reach its ultimate goal. If you, as a leader, can think with an in-depth perspective and make decisions accordingly and timely, you will never fail in achieving heights. An indecisive person can never be a leader; rather, they can only bring chaos to the organization. Therefore, a leader should know how to make effective and timely decisions.

4. Creativity and Innovation

To become a leader, the most important trait an official need is creativity and innovation in making new organizational choices and decisions. If you have a creative approach and innovative ideas, you will bring success to the organization and lead your team more effectively. You will be able to resolve problems in a clever and better way by thinking outside the box. This might be an underappreciated trait, but it plays a vital role in leadership.

Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

5. Optimism

Being optimistic is one vital trait a leader must acquire. Because when you are working in an organization and have several things to manage, there is a fair chance that things will not always go as you have planned. Ups and downs are a part of life. However, a positive attitude towards such setbacks greatly benefits your organization. An optimistic leader who can keep calm and improve constantly can make his team achieve their objective by motivating them to stay positive and relaxed in any situation.

6. Courage and Confidence

Leaders often have to make decisions that might be very risky. Suppose a leader is courageous enough to risk everything and make decisions based on innovative ideas and critical thinking. In that case, it is possible to make an extraordinary impact on your team and achieve your aims. The second thing that holds great power is the leader’s confidence in their decisions. The belief in the authenticity of your decision is the essence of leadership. You will only be able to achieve your target if you are confident about your decision and idea.

7. Effective Management Skills

A leader always has multiple things to handle at once. Managing it all together can be very complicated at times. Therefore, your management skills should be top-notch to put strategies and ideas into suitable actions. A lack of management might complicate and sometimes even ruin the hard work you have already put in. Furthermore, even before any problem arrives, a skilled leader identifies potential complications and makes decisions accordingly. That is how appropriate management helps you become a better leader.

8. Inspiration and Motivation

A successful team is made under the leadership of a motivational and inspirational leader. Reports also suggest that employees work happily in an inspiring work environment. Pay attention to the fact that you cannot inspire people only through your words but actions. That is one of the essential qualities of a leader. They must act selflessly and work tirelessly so their team members can be motivated by their leader’s enthusiasm.

9. Willingness to Learn and Improve

One vital trait that separates a leader from an official is their desire to learn and eagerness to improve. It is often seen that many officials in organizations are conservative in their opinions and not open to new ideas and suggestions. However, that is different from how a leader works. You have to be open-minded enough to accept your shortcomings, value others’ opinions and try to improve if you want to be a successful leader.

10. Justice

A great leader practices justice. Being a leader is more challenging than it may seem. There come certain circumstances where a leader has to be selfless and impartial. No matter the situation and consequences, a leader does not forget morals and ethics and makes sure to be just in the workplace. Any discrimination is highly condemned under their leadership.


Every leader has once been an official, but not all officials become leaders. To be called a leader, you have to be influential and inspirational with the ability to lead your team and succeed at it. Being hardworking, enthusiastic, having an intuitive vision and having a positive attitude leads the way to be a leader. The other important skills include critical and strategic thinking, management skills, eagerness to learn and improve, and being just under all circumstances.