5 “Secrets” Which Can Make You A Better Leader

When I became a leader, I had no clue what I was doing. I was a high school student and had just been elected student body president. I had served as class president and in a few other positions, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of responsibility which stretched me at that point. As president of the study body, the a senior, I quickly realized lots of students and teachers were looking to me for leadership.

What in the world does a senior in high school have to add to the field of leadership?

We were in the second year of a new school and most of the students were forced to leave their previous school to attend this one. Some went willingly, but many were reluctantly bused to a school absent of many of their friends. In my first year at the school, as a junior, I was one of the reluctant students. In my new position, I knew firsthand the need, as well as the challenge, to encourage the morale and build momentum in this new school.

(Recognizing a need is one key to being an effective leader – but I still had no clue how to accomplish this.)

Thankfully I had a seasoned leader for a principal. Mr. Huggins was a retired Army colonel who loved seeing students succeed. He became my mentor and my biggest supporter as a new leader.

(Every new leader needs someone who believes in them, mentors them, and helps them get back up when they fall.)

Through his leadership of me, I learned a few “secrets”, which helped me as student body president. I carried them with me as I entered the business world and later as I led my own businesses. I used them in an elected office.

Even today in ministry, these same “secrets” have made me a better leader. I’ve gotten lots of practice with them and they are more comfortable to me now, but they still are pillars of my understanding of what good and effective leadership looks like.

(Good leaders learn good principles and build upon them, contextualizing them for each leadership position.)

The principles started with the investment of my principal in me.

Here are 5 secrets to make you a better leader:

Letting go of power

The more you learn to delegate the better your leadership will appear to others. When you let go and let others lead, it will actually look like you’re doing more, because your team will be expanding the vision far beyond your individual capacity. Good leadership involves empowering people to carry out the vision. (You may want to read THIS POST as a test to see if you’re an empowering leader.)

Giving up control

You can’t control every outcome. Have you learned this secret yet? Some things are going to happen beyond your ability to guide them. Leaders who attempt to control stifle their team’s creativity, frustrate others on the team and limit the growth and future success of the organization. (You may want to read THIS POST about controlling leaders.)

Not always knowing the answer

If you don’t have all the answers, people will be more willing to help you find the answers. Equally true, if you try to bluff your way through leadership, pretending you don’t need input from others, your ignorance will quickly be discovered. You’ll be dismissed as a respected leader and will essentially close yourself off from gaining wisdom from others. The best leaders I know are always learning something new – many times from the people they lead.

“Wasting time” is not always wasted

Great leaders have learned spending time which other leaders may feel is unproductive usually ends up being among the most productive use of their time. (I wrote a post about this principle HERE.) Great teams laugh together, share personal life with one another, and build relationships beyond the work environment. Spend time with people, in ways which may or may not produce immediate results, and over time, you’ll find your team to be more satisfied and more productive in their work.

Bouncing attention

The more you deflect attention from yourself to others the more people will respect you. People follow confidence in a leader far more passionately than they follow arrogance. You can be confident without demanding all the attention or without receiving credit for every success of the team. Great leaders know that without the input and investment of others they would never accomplish their goals. They remain appreciative of others and consistently share the spotlight. (You may want to read the attributes of a humble leader in THIS POST.)

Those are some of my secrets in leadership. Thanks Principal Huggins! And, life, thank you for continually showing me these are true.

What secrets have you learned which make one a better leader?

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Ron Edmondson

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  • Alex says:

    Very good post Ron. If I may add one thing I've learned in leadership (and still learning) is what I call: "Be a Cheerleader" to those you lead. Everyone needs to be encouraged even when doing their job right. I am a goal oriented and results oriented person, and taking time to "cheer" people on by-passes me very easy. I need to remind myself that if I want to see good momentum, joy and other leaders around me be in an upswing, I must cheer them on. After all, some leaders of my past cheered me on.
    Thanks again Ron for cheering us on in many of your posts!

  • Mark Green MD says:

    I think most leaders have a self wall that often times is a daily fight but that when we are faithful to get over it, Gods blesses us with success as leaders. I call it my Sampson Issue. For Sampson, his issue was his hair. Pretty ridiculous sounding on the surface but for God it was the one thing Sampson was to adhere to and he failed, squandered it, and in the end left his potential for influence in the rubble. I think every leader has a Hair issue and when we are faithful to not cut or to cut depending on the issue, our ability to influence is magnified by a God who wants our whole heart.

  • — Embrace change
    — Accept uncertainty
    — Never lose vision
    — Keep going

  • allanhovis says:

    In my opinion, to be a good leader, we should know how to communicate with other people, because everybody has different opinions about things, how to be responsible, honest and what to do to reach the company's goals. We can learn about this subject at courses like Toronto strategy consultant.

  • Rob Still says:

    Great post Ron and best to you in your new assignment.

    I would add "Speak Life". Encourage the result you envision by speaking it forth and calling out the best in people. I've observed that as one secret of the best leaders.

  • whats the difference between let go and give up?

    • ronedmondson says:

      In letting go you delegate responsibility to others. In giving up you don't try to script every outcome. They go together mostly but not always. Some people delegate but then they try to direct the way it gets done…the final product. Good leaders work with a defined vision but realize the way that vision is accomplished may look different depending on who does the work.Make sense?

  • Melissa says:

    Roll the sleeves up! Work side by side with others to help achieve the goal.

    I've also found to delegate (as you mention above) is a trait I've seen so successful in true leaders….great post Ron. Carry on!

  • Bryankr

    I like the “Give Up” and “Waste Time” headings. They hit some key principles. I would like to add an openness to learn. If one hasn’t anymore to learn, how could that one lead?

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