Become a Leader Worth Following

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Principle #43 in Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” is Become a Leader Worth Following.

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Jack identifies six core behaviors of effective leaders. He stresses that these behaviors can help you be a better leader in any role you take – whether that’s a CEO, an entrepreneur building your first startup, a department manager, a little league coach, volunteering in a civic group, or organizing a church event.

As an overview, the six behaviors are:

  • Know your own strengths and weaknesses
  • Hold yourself accountable… and others too
  • Inspire your team with a clear, compelling, continuous vision
  • Listen for possibility
  • Coach others to take a leadership role
  • Maintain an attitude of gratitude

Know Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses

First, know yourself. When you know your own strengths and weaknesses, it helps you realize when your contributions will have a significant impact on an outcome, and when you need to let others take over.

This self-awareness also helps you remain calm in a moment of crisis. You realize that you can’t fix everything. You know what you should do and what you need to delegate. By demonstrating this calmness, it helps others stay calm too.

Hold Yourself Accountable… and Others Too

As mentioned in principle 1, it’s important to take 100 percent responsibility for your actions. This requires you to consistently follow through on your commitments. People trust you when you consistently follow through on your commitments. This is often as simple as being punctual and reliable.

From a bigger perspective, it means no blaming and no complaining. You take responsibility for outcomes even if they don’t turn out the way you planned. You don’t blame others or complain about outside circumstances.

If the results are caused by someone working for you, it’s important to hold that person accountable too. Publicly, you take responsibility for the overall outcome. Privately, you have a heart to heart with the person that didn’t meet his or her responsibilities to you and the rest of the team. Effective leaders don’t avoid these conversations just because they may be uncomfortable.

Inspire Your Team with a Clear, Compelling, Continuous Vision

When people on your team understand your overall vision, they are able to contribute to it without constant supervision. They can think independently and add their own creativity.

As an example, the primary vision of the Get Certified Get Ahead brand is to help people Get Certified and Get Ahead. We do a lot with the CompTIA Security+ certification and gratefully, we hear from people almost every day telling us that they’ve passed the exam using our materials.

Jaena is my primary assistant and she understands this vision. Additionally, she has frequently used her creativity to increase the helpfulness of our web sites and other materials. Without a clear vision, this might have been more difficult for her.

Listen for Possibility

When your team understands your mission, they are better able to contribute to its success. However, the leader must be open to listening to the team members.

As an example, Jaena understands and supports the vision of the Get Certified Get Ahead brand and she frequently presents ideas for improvement.  Many of these ideas are great, but would simply be lost if I wasn’t listening to them.

Coach Others to Take a Leadership Role

At this point, Jaena could do more if she had some help. With that in mind, we have recently hired some part time help and Jaena has taken the leadership role with them. She found the help and trained them to do the job.

Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude

This is a recurring theme with successful people – be grateful. When you’re in a grateful state of mind, you have a more positive outlook in all your endeavors. When you’re grateful, you are often acknowledging others for their contributions.

Jack mentions that 80% of employees report that they are motivated to work harder when their employer shows appreciation for what they do. He also mentions that only 17% of people feel they are appreciated enough for their boss.

Even when you show appreciation though, it’s important to show it in a way that is meaningful to the recipient. In the 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Gary Chapman outlines the five things that make people feel loved such as words of affirmation (compliments) and receiving gifts. Imagine your spouse values compliments more than gifts and you are frequently giving gifts, but rarely giving compliments. Your spouse may not feel loved.

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Similarly, if your team members value gifts (such as bonuses or time off) more than compliments, but you are only giving compliments, they may not feel appreciated.

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About This Post

I’ve been learning from Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) since 2008. I credit much of my success (including authoring or co-authoring more than 40 books) to applying principles in my life that he teaches. I’m currently going through his book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” covering one principle a week.


Here’s a link to other musing’s on Jack Canfield’s Success Principles.


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