During the four-year process of starting and scaling SkyBell, I have had the pleasure of meeting some remarkably successful people. Whether it’s a potential investor or the CEO of a company with which we could become partners, I’m lucky to have had a front-row seat to a diverse set of individuals who have all created success in their lives.
When you spend time with great leaders, you start to recognize the behaviors and habits successful people all share. What’s interesting is that some of these are very obvious, while other leadership traits are actually quite subtle. In fact, the best leaders make leadership look so easy that you don’t even notice what they do.
Here’s a list of eight unspoken habits of highly effective leaders that you can adopt yourself to create the success you want in your own life.
1. They strive to better themselves.
You’ll never find true leaders growing complacent. They’re voracious learners, constantly expanding their skills and knowledge by reading, networking, or trying things.
Don’t underestimate the power of reading. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, and other extraordinary leaders make daily reading a big priority. Here’s a list of top books you should read for business and personal success.
2. They surround themselves with achievers.
Leaders associate with achievers who inspire them to live a fulfilled life. Remember what entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
It makes sense when pursuing greatness to surround yourself with people of similar character and ambition. And of course, avoid surrounding yourself with negative people.
3. They accept that improvement is a process.
Exceptional leaders are patient. They don’t expect to achieve significant results all at once. Rather, they know that incremental steps taken each day will lead to growth over time. The best leaders don’t overestimate what they can do in the short term or underestimate what they can produce over time.
4. They’re open to feedback.
Successful people solicit input and advice along the way as part of the self-improvement process. They take responsibility for their performance and have the self-awareness to incorporate feedback.
This can be feedback from people, customers, and investors. It is also important for leaders to learn from their mistakes and realize there are gifts in failure.
5. They resist dogma.
Strong leaders have the self-confidence to challenge their own assumptions and biases — and those of others around them. They think for themselves and typically resist following others (which is not the same as not listening to others). Strong leaders know that biases and rigid definitions today become land mines in the future.
6. They face their fears head-on.
Leaders acknowledge that their ambitions usually involve some level of fear or self-doubt. Bottom line: They won’t always feel good, but they move forward anyway. Driving forward in the face of fear and uncertainty is often what separates the best from the rest.
7. They believe in their vision.
A startup is a group of people who believe in a future that doesn’t yet exist. Great leaders reach a high level of clarity around their vision and cultivate a strong-enough belief to motivate others to join the mission.
8. They think long-term.
The most successful entrepreneurs know better than to live and die by every day. They plan long-term, constantly visualizing future versions of themselves and their business. They know that small steps will add up to bigger things. They know how to balance present-day urgencies while protecting the future.
By identifying the habits and qualities that make great leaders, you can adopt them in your daily activity. Use the list above to focus on one of these at a time. When you’re around successful people, see if you can notice each principle in action.
This combination of awareness and focus will help you create habits that stick. The same approach has been very effective for me, and I’m certain it will be for you as well.