The 10 habits of great leadership

 "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way"

- John C. Maxwell

Habit 1:  Act like a leader always!

Leaders are always on the job, exhibiting the character traits and behaviours that reflect both the organization and people for whom the leader is responsible.  Leadership is not a function, title or role. It is the state in which a person must always be, in order to fulfil their responsibilites and duties.

Habit 2:  Be a team player

Leadership is a team sport, where the leader is ultimately responsible for all of the outcomes, behaviours, successes and failures of both the individuals within the organization, and the organizations itself.  A failure is not a failed person, but a failure in leadership.  The leader give credit where due and takes responsibility for all.

Habit 3:  Follow the 4 steps to gaining any commitment

Leaders know that very few people will immediately take action without context.  Good leaders move people from a state of the unknown to the known, from knowing to understanding, from understanding to commitment, and finally from commitment to action.

Habit 4:  Create value first and reap the reward later

Leaders develop habits of deferring gratification and doing the hard work that many others would won’t do.  These habits create value first and are then followed by reward.  Unfortunately, many people lack these important leadership traits and expect to be rewarded first, before they put in the effort. 

Habit 5:  Sell your ideas

Leaders are exceptional sales people, in their own way.  They build the habit of selling their ideas, beliefs and strategies to those around them to build coalitions.  They work hard to develop good sales habits and hone their tactics through daily practice.  From the stock room to the board room, sales skills are critical to elevating a person from an average manager to an exceptional leader.

Habit 6:  Be an exceptional listener

Great leaders are often better listeners than speakers.  They know that they are only as strong as the people around them, and work hard to understand the motivations and desires of people, so they can be guided and inspired to bigger and better goals.  Leaders listen more often than they talk.

Habit 7:  Ask quality questions to get quality information

Leaders develop the habit of asking quality questions, and then listening quietly to get good information.  They know how to probe and seek out the critical piece of information that is paramount to the success of a project, and do so with both grace and skill.

Habit 8:  Seek to understand then to be understood

Leaders are empathetic and work hard to understand the values and beliefs of a person, before articulating their own course of actions.  Good leaders canvass their teams for ideas and solutions, but know they are ultimately responsible for making the decision and do not equivcate when the time arrives.

Habit 9:  Be a prolific and value-added networker

Leaders work hard to expand their personal and professional network for three reasons.  Firstly, to always be scouting for top talent.  Secondly, to seek allies with whom they can collaborate.  Finally, to seek new and different sources of information in order to challenge their views, not reinforce them.

Habit 10: Get results

Leaders are ultimately rewarded for getting results in whatever their chosen field.  They take their responsibilities seriously, knowing that the achievement of results is the ultimate goal of their organization, and they communicate the achievement of this goal in a persistent, compelling and inspirational manner.

Eamonn Percy is the Principal of The Percy Group, a performance improvement firm focused on helping business leaders solve complex problems and accelerate growth.  Subscribe to his free newsletter at