Team looking at their leader while he explaining something on whiteboard

These are 20 best habits that I have noticed most successful leaders use. Keep this list handy as a reminder of time-tested solutions that will make you and your team shine.

    1. Use the power of the pen. Recognition is the number one motivator. A simple thank you note is more important than money to most people. Open the fancy pen you got for your birthday and say thanks to the people who helped you succeed.
    2. Understand the importance of emotions. Feelings are a part of daily life and business. When people’s feelings are hurt, their performance suffers. So make sure you deal with these issues sooner rather than later.
    3. Be passionate. If you don’t love what you do, your team won’t either. Show them that you’re excited and watch them give their best at all times.
    4. Communicate effectively. If you don’t use effective communication skills, you may fail to motivate people and get the most out of them. Don’t be afraid to take a brush-up course and listen to hints from those who are in the positions you aspire to be in.
    5. Do a company evaluation at least once a year. Take inputs from your team. Ask them to respond in writing to important questions like, “What do we need to change?” and “What do we need to keep doing more often?”
    6. Create a healthy environment. Every new person in your team should feel welcome and comfortable. Appoint a mentor to assist the person. This helps build confidence and creates the motivation to go on.
    7. Balance your team’s skills sets. If everyone in a team is an innovator, nothing will get done. Similarly, a team of only implementers will create nothing new.
    8. Remember that customer service rocks. Value your clients and their needs. This is the key to successful business relationships.
    9. Take your team’s opinion. This shows them that their suggestions are valued and hence will put more energy and effort to achieve the target goal. Ask them what they think and you’ll get their dedication in return.
    10. Organise a knowledge lunch. Keep your team up-to-date by having a lunch meeting once a week or month. Getting together for things other than work helps them reconnect with each other.
    11. Deal appropriately with fear. Provide a forum to safely discuss any fears your team might have. When team members fear, they do not perform at their highest level.

A boss giving a presentation to his team

    1. Inspire faith. You need to believe in what you and your company are doing, and to share the power of that belief with your team members.
    2. Pursue failure. Failure is not an ending; it is a stepping stone to the right answer. Stop beating yourself up for mistakes and see them as an opportunity to begin again with additional information, knowledge and experience.
    3. Take responsibility. You are responsible for everything that goes right, and anything that goes wrong. As it is rightly said, the fish stinks from the head down.
    4. Have fun. If your team members enjoy work and have fun, it is sure to reflect in their productivity and ultimately in your profits.
    5. Beware of invalidation. The number one motivation killer is making a team member feel less important. If you mistakenly say the wrong thing to someone, apologise immediately. You’ll look like a responsible leader rather than an insensitive bully.
    6. Maintain your composure under pressure. As Thomas Jefferson has said, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
    7. Keep yourself updated. To keep your skills sharp and get answers to difficult questions, get into a group of non-competing peers.
    8. Ask powerful questions. The right question at the right time can eliminate major problems or help a team member find the best answer available.
    9. Learn to deal with difficult people. There are specific techniques to deal with different types of people. Doing this effectively will maintain a healthy balance in your team.

Enjoy work to live longer

There’s increasing evidence to prove that apart from diet and health, there is another factor that may be just as important to live longer—your job. A study done at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill shows that a constellation of work-related factors—whether you’re employed, how secure you are in your job, how much you enjoy your work—may influence both your day-to-day health and how long you live. “Our work is intricately tied-up with our well being,” says Nortin Hadler, a professor of medicine and immunology at the University.

It is clear that something about the workplace pecking order affects health. One major factor is about how much control employees have over the demands associated with their respective jobs. “It’s a combination of high demands and low control.” This combination is associated with earlier death, cardiovascular disease, mental health problems, sleep issues, among other maladies,” says Benjamin Amick III, a professor of behavioural sciences and epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center’s School of Public Health. His recent research suggests that people who work in jobs with low demands are also at risk if they have low control over their work. If you spend your working life in a job that’s basically boring, you’re at risk of dying sooner.

One more research led by Sarah Burgard, a sociologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, has shown that job insecurity can be as bad for your long-term health as a bout with a serious illness or even an actual job loss.

— Team CW

Barton Goldsmith
Dr Barton Goldsmith, PhD, an award-winning and highly sought-after keynote speaker, business consultant and internationally syndicated author, has helped develop creative and balanced leadership in several Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organisations worldwide. He lives in California, USA.


  1. This is a great list, and it is pretty consistent with the varied instruction/direction I’ve seen concerning this subject. You might want to check item #6, though. It appears that this section needs to be edited/revised.


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