5 Basic Principles of Successful Leadership

How to be a successful leader - Michael Wader

Asking for help is a sign of STRENGTH, not weakness.

When it may seem like things are going south at several points and you feel no one wants to help you solve your problem, you need to maintain your clarity and resolve tough circumstances. Thanks to understanding who you are, what you are capable of, and continuing to ask for help you will persevere. People who are not confident of themselves are afraid of looking foolish by asking for help. But, for those that are confident and persist in challenging the circumstances, they will find help available and they will succeed. The good leader is smart enough to know what he or she does not know and willing to ask for help.

Never ask someone to do something you are not willing to do yourself.

The successful leader leads by example. If changes at work are needed, the leader should change first and then set the example for others to follow. If new training program or new work culture are to be implemented at work, the leader should be the first to attend the training. If work performance habits are to be changed, the work leader needs to ensure he or she has corrected or changed those habits before asking other workers to change. Lead by example.

Continuously ask “Good” questions and know how to listen.

Asking good questions is a 2-step process and is followed with 4 good listening techniques. If you are curious about the processes within your organization and want to ask questions about them… get prepared first.

  1. Think about who you will ask, when you will ask them, where you will ask them, and don’t presume you already know the answer.
  2. Write a date and time in your journal, when you will ask the question and write it down before reading it back to yourself. You don’t want to ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”. You want to worker to use their brain and think about an answer that makes sense, not just a quick yes or no answer.


  1. After you ask the question, close your mouth and keep it closed. Give the person a few moments to think about your question and develop an answer for you.
  2. When they speak, maintain good eye contact with them and do not be looking at your cell phone or computer or anywhere else than directly at them.
  3. Take a few notes about what they say. You don’t need every word, but you need the ideas they have so you can review them later.
  4. Be sure to tell them “thank you” and show that you sincerely care about what they had to say. They will stop avoiding you and be waiting for your next question.

Insist on having current data before helping someone solve a problem.

Too often people use “fuzzy words” such as always, frequently, too many, not enough, etc. to tell their supervisor about a problem. There is no way a leader can make a good decision on the actions needed to correct a problem if there are not hard facts. The percentages we assign to those fuzzy words are different for each person and they multiply the confusion when groups try to brainstorm a solution. Asking good questions and getting quantitative answers with data will help everyone to clearly understand the severity of the problem and help to focus on possible solutions. With data you can set the goals for the problem-solving group and be able to measure possible solutions against the current problem data to choose the best actions to take.

Look for opportunities to recognize and reward people for good performance.

When most leaders go to the shop floor or the production area they are usually looking for problems. If you always look for problems, you will find problems… but you will walk right past someone doing something great. Take time to schedule a visit to the work areas in your journal with a specific time and date. Then go there looking to catch someone doing something above the normal standard of performance. Most companies have people doing good work, but frequently the leaders fail to take time to recognize and reward these outstanding employees. When workers are given a difficult task they often devise improvements in the process and do not tell anyone about it. Catch these “continuously improving” employees in the act and let them know that you appreciate their contributions to the company and to improving the processes. If this is not you regular habit now, do not be surprised by the reactions of the workers that are recognized for doing things better without being told. This is something new for them and for you that will provide positive results.

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