4 Steps to Becoming an Exceptional Leader

Would you like to obtain the respect of many individuals in your organization?

Do you want your ideas to be heard, validated, and implemented?

Would you like employees to come to you for assistance with problem-solving on projects?

Would you like to move up to a higher level of leadership?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on.

I’ll share with you four qualities crucial for an effective leadership, which are summarized by the acronym, LEAD

L is for leadership skills

E is for empathy

A is for action

D is for delegation

Leadership Skills

As a leader, you know that there are dozens of skills you need. Did you know that one of the most important ones is assertiveness? As a leader you must command attention and let people know what needs to be done.

Assertiveness is NOT the same as aggressiveness. The art of being assertive requires presenting activities as win-win situations. Aggressiveness is being demanding and rude. Assertiveness, on the other hand, provides clear criteria for the goals to be accomplished and utilizes rewards to give people incentives.

One of the other key leadership skills is motivation. Provide praise and rewards. If a relationship already exists, a reward may be as simple as the positive feeling they get from helping you out. You could say, “It would really help me out if you…”

For an additional incentive, let people know how you’ll help them or that they may receive a benefit (time, bonus, etc.) for completion of the task. It is equally important that you follow-up and provide feedback on people’s progress. Continuous feedback can increase motivation and the quality of work performance.


Empathy is a very important communication skill. People will respect you if they feel that you listen to and respect them. This means more than asking someone how they are doing. It means really listening to their response and providing an additional comment.

Take your time to hear what your colleague or supervisee says, and then either reflect it back to them (“so what you are saying is…”) or provide an empathic statement (“that sounds very difficult,” or “it sounds like a wonderful idea, are you excited?”).

Do NOT ask a question that you cannot or do not want to hear the answer to. Never ask someone how their project is going while you continue to rush down the hall. It is better to not ask or, preferably, to wait until you have time.


“Practice what you preach” “Actions speak louder than words”

These clichés actually have a good deal of merit. Why should you expect others to do things that you are not doing yourself? Research shows that we learn from watching others and that we sometimes only perform a behavior is a reward is present.

When I was a manager of a high volume retail store, one of the employees complained that she could not figure out how to discount an item on the register. Rather than explain it to her, I did it with her. Then, I had her complete the discount for the customer. After the customer had left, I asked her to teach me how to do it. A common expression in the field of medicine is “Show one, do one, teach one” This strategy is very action-oriented and effective in all settings.


Delegation is not simply assigning tasks to employees. If you delegate this way, you will not reap the rewards that delegation offers. There are three fundamental points in effective delegating:

Assignment of tasks to the proper individuals.

Consider individual’s unique talents and attributes in training, experience, and personality. Weigh who has the best track record, who is efficient, and who has enthusiasm for the particular project or assignment.

Provide clear and concise descriptions of the projects.

Make sure that people know exactly what, how, and when the task needs to be completed, and provide specific time deadlines.

Create Accountability

Have employees present their progress to you, the leader, and make employees aware of what other team members are doing to increase accountability to the group.

Now you know the LEAD model. But knowing it is not enough to see powerful change. Practice one of these steps every day and you’re sure to become and even more inspirational leader.

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