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The 7 Disciplines Of A Successful Leader

Fellow professional speaker Scott Ginsberg once asked me, “What do you do each day to assure your ongoing success?” I thought it was one of the best questions I’ve ever been asked.

For over 25 years, I’ve considered what activities have given me the biggest payback on my investment of time and expertise as a leader. The biggest challenge of leadership isn’t being successful; it is being successful over the long run. Longevity trumps the temporary, and requires daily disciplines.

At different times in your business, there will be different things you need to do, but these seven activities—when done daily—will stack the odds in your favor for long-term success.

  1. Capture ideas: Each day, read, observe, contemplate and capture ideas that will be relevant to your audience and useful in your speaking, writing, coaching and consulting. Reading broadly and eclectically develops intellectual bandwidth. If you read only what others are reading, you will likely lack the ingredients for true originality.

  2. Sell something: While getting out and making sales calls is always a good idea for staying in touch with customers, that’s not only what I mean. Ideas have consequences, and leaders go beyond simple telling to selling. They know what matters and they make it matter to others. Whether a needed change or a suggestion for improvement, sell the ideas that matter most.

  3. Build and deepen relationships: People rarely change or improve outside of relationship. When people are asked about the leaders who have made the biggest difference in their lives, they first site warmth and personal connection. Leadership is about making connections and keeping them. Great leaders get results by focusing as much or more on the relational as the transaction, and the relational is born out of genuine concern. When was the last time you called or emailed a colleague or client with no other motive than checking in on them and their well-being?

  4. Create: Leadership is an art as well as a science. Your vision will be richer because of creativity, not stenography. Write a story, post a blog, send a tweet, but do something that requires imagination. Your creative muscle is developed with use, and unless it is being built over time, it won’t be available to you when needed.

  5. Improve something: Look at every aspect of your performance and your business. Find something you can tweak, improve or overhaul for maximum impact and effectiveness. Pick one area of your business operations to scrutinize and improve with your team each month.

  6. Learn a new idea: Capturing ideas for your content development is different from looking for new ideas on how to live your life better. Learning also keeps you from stagnating -—personally and professionally. My longtime friend and futurist Dan Burrus, picks one new skill to learn each year.

  7. Enjoy: Make the most of each moment and the moments will become a life well lived. You can enjoy the successes and even the setbacks, if you look at them as learning opportunities. Don’t only do what needs to be done; make it a habit to do those things you really enjoy. Have fun. As the legendary Michael Jackson (not the singer, but the Brit known as the Beer Hunter) said, “Moderation is good, as long as it is in moderation.”

What will you do each day to assure your ongoing success? And what would you add to this list?

Author: Mark Sanborn Mark will be speaking at the Annual International Leadership Conference "Reaching New Heights", April 3-6, 2018, in Denver, Colorado.

Mark holds the Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association (NSA) and is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame. He was recently honored with the Cavett Award, the highest honor the NSA bestows on its members, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the speaking profession. Mark is also a member of the exclusive Speakers Roundtable, made up of 20 of the top speakers in America.