15 Top Leadership Tips from Deliberate Leaders

Reading Time: 8 Minutes

A big part of what we do at Deliberate Directions is to focus on developing and growing leaders. We help our clients create a deliberate set of leadership practices that help them process decisions and remove roadblocks so they can confidently achieve their goals. Our focus is on developing deliberate leaders that connect, engage and inspire their teams.

We move leaders from frustration and indecision to confident and inspired to grow their impact on others. Our focus is on developing the leaders’ ability to engage with others, navigate change successfully, and perform in their leadership roles more effectively.

As our Deliberate Leaders podcast has grown and we are able to interview leadership experts from across the country, we have asked them what their number 1 leadership tip is. Here are what some of these experts, CEO’s and authors have shared. Plus stay tuned for my number 1 leadership tip!

Tip #1: Leaders need to be transparent, visible and vocal.

“My top leadership tip while we are being presented with the physical distancing, with all of the anxiety and fear, my top leadership tip right now is for leaders to become transparent, visible and vocal. When I say transparent, we are really looking for leaders who tell it like it is, not who make up some kind of story. We want leaders who are honest with us. And I think one of the things that happens when we are faced with crisis is it rips away the mask, and it lets people know who you really are.”

Eileen McDargh, author of Your Resiliency GPS and Burnout to Breakthrough

Tip #2: Surround yourself with people smarter than you.

“Surround yourself with people smarter than you. It’s what I learned early on that one of the worst enemies of any leader is success. Because as soon as you see yourself on the magazine cover, you suddenly think you must be a good leader and smart at this. And in fact, the truth is you got there because of the people around you, so surround yourself with people smarter than you and then lead by service, get out of their way and take care of them.”

Jeff Hoffman, Chairman of the Board of the Global Entrepreneurship Network

Tip #3: As a leader, influence should be earned.

“Number one leadership tip, you know, I would go with the idea that leading others is a function of course, influencing others, and that that influence is earned. I think all too often in our fast paced, volatile, uncertain world, that we tend to rely on credentials, authority, by position and so forth. Yet the leaders that research shows, we follow the most, follow the best and do big things. Those leaders that earn the right to influence us. And that’s a skill or talent that most of us dedicate. It takes a lifetime to, to practice them to gain the discipline.”

Craig Ross, author of Do Big Things

Tip #4: Be an intentional leader.

“Number one leadership tip is be intentional. I’m familiar with your materials and I think that aligns with much of what you and the coaches as part of your program teach. A lot of very successful business leaders found their companies and have a great run, usually reacting to things reacting to the market, reacting to customer needs, reacting to opportunities that doesn’t mean that they can’t be incredibly successful. But it’s still a theme of reacting and being opportunistic. And at some point, and we’re going to, we’re going to talk about exit. But at some point, you have to define your desired outcomes. And you’ve got to make some choices to get there, sometimes some harder choices. And that can be a struggle for a lot of business leaders who have otherwise been very successful. So be intentional about that.”

Patrick Ungashick, author of Dance in the End Zone

Tip #5: Thank people when they do a good job.

“Thank people when they do a good job, okay, what you’re paying them out, care how long they’ve worked for you. If someone does a good job, thank them.”

Dr. Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Engage Your Employees

Tip #6: Be an active listener.

“I think listening is underrated. And not just hearing what people say, but really focusing on trying to understand better. And so as a therapist, when I work with people, my goal is to listen to them, but also to teach them how to become more active listeners, I think the world would be a better place if we all worked on listening more than we try to speak.”

Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Do

Tip #7: A present leader is better than a perfect one.

“One of the things that I often tell my leaders is they want you to be present more than they need you to be perfect. You know, so many leaders I work with, they resist even learning how to coach because they think they need to know everything and have all the answers and are constantly giving advice. When so many times and especially these days, people need to be heard they need to be feel valued, even more important how you make them feel. It’s more important than the words that you choose. And you don’t need to know everything you need to be human. And you need to respect them as valuable human beings as well. If you want to engage them in an important conversation.”

Marcia Reynolds, author of Coach the Person, Not the Problem

Tip #8: Leaders should have congruency.

A congruency, what does that mean? So to me, that means oftentimes we give our people direction, or we set rules or policies, even little things like hey, you should be on time for meetings, but yet sometimes leaders aren’t because we get to get a jail card free because of our title. And I think people listen to what you say but they’re also going to watch what you do. And you should model what you want everyone else to be doing. Not sending a memo telling them and then doing what you always do. And then blaming you know the environment on why things are you were late or this or that. So I would say congruency.”

Dave Mattson, co-author of The Sandler Rules

Tip #9: Be a collaborative leader.

“Well, you know, I think everyone has different needs. I’ll tell you what mine was as a young man and it was a great tip that was given to me. I studied under Dr. Warren Bennis, who was in his day was one of the world’s leading experts in leadership at the University of Southern California. So I can certainly share some of the things I learned from him but the best leadership tip I got, I got when I was 14 years old. From my mother, who she said to me, son, I love you but you’re a bull in a china shop. You just knock people over and she gave me this paperweight which was given to me now 50 years ago, which tells you how old I am. She gave me this, I’ll read it to you, but she and I have it to this date. And it’s on my desk right here. It’s always here. It says diplomacy is the art of letting something else have your way. And she said, this is about collaboration, not manipulation. But if you want to be a leader, you have to learn how to work with people and not knock them over. And it’s probably been one of the best bits of advice. And one that I have to constantly remind myself of throughout my career, but it’s been it’s been great advice in running a business and working with people.”

Ivan Misner, founder of BNI

Tip #10: A leader’s goal, should be to develop more leaders.

“With my business coach and my clients, obviously we go over leadership, you know, techniques and templates and things like that. And I was reminded the groups I’m working with, which are usually entrepreneurs, but sometimes their next level managers or C level managers, or executives, the number one role of a leader is to develop more leaders. And I, in my own experience in my own life and my own businesses, I found that when I started to really embrace that and stop being the yes guy, and the answer guy and the ego guy, like a lot of entrepreneurs are, and worked on developing other leaders and coaching other leaders. Wow. I mean, not only was my company running better, but everybody in the company was more energized and having fun, you know, hitting their goals.”

Scott Fritz, author of The 40 Hour Work Year

Tip #11: Lead from a genuine place.

“I think the thing I’ve learned about leadership over time, and listen, I don’t know if there is I never knew to be said about these things. It’s more about remembering the core principles. So what I would say is what I’ve learned over time is that when you can lead from a place of being very genuine, because you  have confidence in yourself and you’ve done the homework and you know what you’re doing. You can be much more effective. The worst kind of leader is somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing and trying to transmit, that they actually think you know, that they do know but they really don’t And then therefore people just smell it. And I think you want to stay away from that. So if you don’t know, don’t try to lead. Listen.”

Patrick McGinnis, author of Fear of Missing Out

Tip #12: Be your honest and true self.

“The best way to connect with people, is to show up fully as yourself and be honest and true about that. And it gives other people permission to be themselves and I think that that deepens the connection that we have with our people in ways that allows us to take them places they otherwise wouldn’t trust us to go.”

Jeff Goins, author of The Art of Work

Tip #13: Work harder on yourself than at your job.

“It’s a quote that I had from Jim Rohn. He told it to me early on in my career, he said work harder on yourself than you do on your job. And it is so powerful and it had such an impact on me because if you work on your job, he said you’ll make money. If you work hard on yourself, you’ll make a fortune and it really had a measurable impact on me taking up personal development, not just focusing on making a return or getting something for the business, but really focusing on you.”

Skip Prichard, author of The Book of Mistakes

Tip #14: Check biases and focus on empathy.

“You know, I think the most important thing that a leader can do is to leave their biases behind and focus on empathy as they lead forward.

“Well, there’s two kinds of bias that come to mind that I think is really important to understand when, at least from my perspective, when I think of leadership, the first is confirmation bias. This is a really well studied concept and you know, leadership and management practices and is this issue of, you know, where people seek out information and sources that reaffirm their own beliefs and their perception of things. And I think as leaders when we’re dealing with uncertainty and change. And we’re navigating markets and how we develop better connections with customers. We need to, you know, let those biases go. And one of the most powerful tools that we can do to remove that bias is practice empathy and stepping into the shoes of our customers, and especially stepping into the shoes of our employees and practicing that empathy. And looking at it through their lens and helping us make better decisions then as leaders as we go forward.”

Jonathon Hensley, CEO of Emerge Interactive

Tip #15: Build trust with everyone around you.

“My top leadership tip is build trust- with your team, your customers, your community, your industry. Trust is the most critical factor of the success of any leader and any business. It’s important to keep in mind that any pain points within an organization whether it be leadership, sales, marketing, employee retention, innovation, can all be improved with increased trust. Too often, I hear that a business thinks they have a leadership issue, but it is a trust issue. Or you think you have a sales issue or profit issue or stress issue and these are all a lack of trust issues. Trust is a leading indicator to leadership success and lack of trust is actually the largest expense of any organization. Leadership (and frankly business success) starts with trust.”

Allison Dunn, CEO of Deliberate Directions

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

Join our list for exclusive tips, content and a welcome gift – our ebook on how to engage your team and boost profits.