“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.”
Brian Tracy (Motivational speaker & Author, Maximum Achievement)
“A leader has a vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.”
Ralph Lauren (American fashion designer)
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
John C. Maxwell, (Author, Developing The Leader Within You)
The idea of being a leader, whether personally or professionally, gives the ego a glossy stroke with all the qualities the term implies.
Leaders are strong, confident, and tenacious.
They inspire others to follow them and develop the same traits.
The leader/follower relationship implies constant growth.
One to pave the way, the others to follow with some assuredness it’s the right direction.
And, if the set goal is achieved, the leader basks in the glory of that success — and rightly so… after all, the leaders take all the risks.
But, not everyone is wired or desires to be a leader.
Some people are better as team supporters that contribute their strengths to the process.
Both are needed.
But, to be a leader means constantly setting new goals, executing new strategies, and moving forward.
This is what sets you apart as a leader worthy of the label.
But, for many, basking in one success for too long leads to stagnation and a lack of growth.
The enemy of success, and leaders in general, is comfort.
Reaching a certain level of success and then stopping.
Getting lazy, unfocused, and stuck in the past.
Whether it’s personal growth or organizational excellence, you need to continue to set bigger goals after each achieved milestone.
You need a strategy for leveling up in order to separate you as a leader from someone that just got lucky.
You need maximum efficiency and long-term vision, not just for your business, but for yourself.
Traits successful leaders need for next-level goals
There are reams of lists of leadership qualities on the Internet.
But, the traits of next-level leaders go beyond interpersonal likeability and integrity.
If you’re a leader, you have likely reached a certain level of success because of your inherent or learned leadership traits.
The question is… how to move the needle next?
The Harvard Business Review surveyed businesses and came up with 10 traits of excellent leaders.
One key trait they reported was that good leaders excelled at setting “stretch goals”, or goals that were not just about working harder but depended on the leader finding new ways to achieve higher goals.
In another report, the Harvard Business Review looked at excellence in CEOs, finding that “adaptable CEOs “spend more than 50% of their time on the job thinking about long-term goals.
They are asking the question, “Where do we go from here?” and strategizing how to level up from where they’re currently at.
Once goals are reached, leaders set new ones.
While short-term goals are being reached, leaders are setting the next ones.
The long range vision and focus of leaders is the platform for levelling up.
The next step is innovative strategy to execute that vision.
And, according to a Strategy& survey of over 700 executives, possessing both strategy and execution is a rarity… found in less than 8% of leaders. Whereas 16% are good at one or the other, and the majority are neutral or weak at both.
If there was a secret sauce ingredient blend for success, this rare combination would be it.
Two Things Leaders Do To Move Forward
The truth is, most leaders get stagnant by getting comfortable with where they are and not setting stretch goals.
But, you can’t set bigger goals without having the right strategy.
Just because you’ve reached one level of success doesn’t mean you can reach the next.
If you fall into a comfortable status quo, you’ll end up missing your next level goals. If you don’t boil down your focus to maximize efficiency in your day, you’ll never be able to take things to the next level.
Leaders level up by doing these two things…
1. Harness the power of systems.
Success relies on scalability, which relies on systems.
A system, like a habit, can be simple…
Such as the system you use to brush your teeth the exact same way every morning.
Systems can also can be complex, like the system a toothpaste business uses to ensure that the contents of every tube of toothpaste they produce is exactly the same every time.
Systems make your life efficient.
They are the habits in your life that you have been able to complete effortlessly and without expending a lot of energy.
Once you have mastered something or formed a new habit, it takes less energy to consciously commit to the task and — like brushing your teeth — becomes automatic.
Automatic tasks, or the smooth-running systems of your life, allow you more time for high-level strategy and long-term goals.
Think of the areas in your life where you can automate. What time-wasters chew up your focus?
Banking, errands, email, and social media use.
Delegate, use apps to streamline, and use services designed to save you time.
Once you automate low-level tasks, you’ll have time, mental space, and focus for the next level of personal growth or professional explosion.
In business, creating systems is about taking what processes have made you successful and looking for ways to make them simple, repeatable, and transferable.
This is where you create standard operating procedures, fall in love with spreadsheets, and consciously build a team of people to execute and automate.
Smart use of your time, both personally and professionally, are the first step and the only way you can start to build next-level success.
2. Focus on scaling up.
Once you’ve systemized, you can start to scale up.
Scaling up requires the blend of strategy and execution that your leadership wheelhouse depends on.
Successful people are normal people who have learned how to scale themselves really well.
If you don’t know what the word “scale” means — don’t worry — you are not alone.
Most people don’t know what it means.
Here, the word “scale” refers to scalability, which is a characteristic of a system, model or function that describes the system’s capability to cope and perform under an increased or expanding workload.
A system that scales well will be able to maintain, or even increase, its level of performance or efficiency when tested by larger operational demands.
In life, if you know how to scale, you know how to get more and more done without burning out or being miserable.
Scaling is what will allow you to free up your time while increasing your productivity.
Scaling lets you work with laser focus on high-level tasks.
It brings the skillset of strategy and execution together.
Systemization is what makes scaling possible.
From there, you’ll scale up by plotting out how to execute your next big goal.
Then, you’ll follow the same reverse engineering you used to reach your first level of success, including short-term benchmarks mapped out to long-term outcomes.
With a business, your systems allow you to work on the business without being bogged down in the business.
You’ll start to value your time and protect your focus, trusting the systems you’ve put in place.
This will allow you to try new things, learn new skills, harness greater creativity, or cultivate growth in areas of your personal life that you’ve been neglecting.
For business, this will take you to the next wave of success and achievement.
Leaders need big goals and effective strategies in order to keep moving forward. Without growth, you’ll be miserable and lazy. But, many leaders struggle to maintain current success while trying to achieve more. The secret is to maximize efficiency and be intentional with your time so that you can focus on high-level goals. Without leveraging the power of systems in your life, you won’t be able to scale yourself, and you won’t be able to increase your levels of success.
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