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The 4 Qualities of Effective Leaders & How to Develop Them

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

  • Week 1: Strong Business

  • Week 2: Confident Leaders

  • Week 3: Motivated Teams

In a rush? Read the Executive Summary:

  1. In a challenging environment, leaders must be ambitious, resilient AND empathetic. Those who’ve worked on their own personal and professional development will leap ahead, without the personal cost.

  2. Fitness & Energy: Crashing and burning is not a solution when we’re dealing with rolling waves of change. Leaders must find ways to prioritise their own fitness, health and energy levels to avoid ill-health.

  3. Self-Confidence & Belief: How can we ask others to follow our vision, if we don’t have confidence in ourselves? Self-confidence and belief are essential for making decisions, taking risks, overcoming challenges, and inspiring others.

  4. Influencing & Networking Skills: An influential and networked leader will have more support, trust, and cooperation, as well as lower resistance, isolation, and competition.

  5. Being a Good Problem Solver: Agility, just-in-time and collaborative problem-solving skills are essential for achieving quick wins with your team, generating belief in the vision and reducing friction.

Leaders often make sure their teams go through Development Reviews, but they rarely sit in the hot seat themselves. Does this mean they've got it all figured out? Hardly. Especially today, when the world is changing so fast, leaders need to keep up — to tweak their businesses and themselves to match what their customers, teams, and stakeholders need.

So, leaders need ways to see clear reflections of themselves — their strong points, and the things they could work on. These reflections might come from the people they work with, but those views aren't always the full picture. They could also come from outside mentors, leadership groups, or even through tools and programmes designed to help leaders grow.

For example, at our last Leadership Gym, we did a Leadership Diagnostic. What we found helped our members get to the bottom of what they all needed to work on, leading to fresh ideas and a stronger drive to make changes. And guess what? Taking care of their own health was a top concern. It's too easy to forget about looking after our own health when we're busy making changes, plugging gaps in our teams, and taking care of our customers and families. But just getting by isn't the same as really thriving at work.

Looking forward to 2024, I've got 10 goals that I think every leader should aim for to make sure they're not just getting by, but thriving. These goals are based on solid research, the latest in leadership development, and my own personal insights.

Now, we'll dive into goals 4-7, for Confident Leaders. In the final article next week, we'll discuss 3 goals to help you develop Motivated Teams.


In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, leaders are facing an array of challenges that test their mettle. To thrive, they must embody a trio of qualities: ambition, resilience, and empathy. The leaders who stand out are those who have invested in their personal and professional development, enabling them to leap ahead without incurring a personal toll.

1. Fitness & Energy

This is a tough time to be a business leader and manager. The external changes are relentless – including AI, compliance and a challenging economy. The internal impact takes a toll, as we attempt to drive progress and productivity with empathy and a lightness of touch. Most of us experience stress and crashes in our energy. The risk of ill-health, burnout and making poor decisions are real, and pose a significant threat to our effectiveness as leaders. Therefore, leaders must find ways to prioritise their physical, and mental and emotional well-being.

The Members of our Leadership Gym discussed their experience of this, and came up with their Top 5 Strategies:

  1. Making the choice to be committed to your health

  2. Having things to look forward to, to keep you motivated

  3. Focusing on how you feel after you’ve eaten, not just during

  4. Having structure and discipline, like a morning walk or routine

  5. Having an exercise buddy or personal trainer

According to McKinsey, nearly 80% of companies that prioritised organisational health experienced a substantial improvement in their operational performance, often within a span of just 6 to 12 months, showcasing the quick and beneficial effects of prioritising health in the workplace. Organizational health: A fast track to performance improvement | McKinsey

2. Self-Confidence & Belief

How can we ask others to follow our vision, if we don’t have confidence and belief in ourselves? Pushback from others, including colleagues and clients, is normal and to be expected – especially if you’re stretching their comfort zones. But true leaders balance self-belief with listening to others’ views, observing early results and having the confidence to know when to change plans and tactics instead of ploughing on regardless.

Self-confidence and belief are essential for making decisions, taking risks, overcoming challenges, and inspiring others. But how do we build a self-confidence that accepts our flaws, rather than an arrogance or imposter syndrome that either denies or hides our flaws? I recommend you start in really simple ways, by keeping your promises to yourself; promises like getting up on time and not doing things you know you’ll regret. That builds our self-like and our self-trust, and I’ve found that to be incredibly powerful in these challenging times! We build on that foundation by keeping the commitments we make to others, and being where we say we’ll be, doing what we say we’ll do, and letting people know as soon as possible if we can’t. That builds others’ trust in us and means that we know we are trustworthy, i.e. worthy of others’ faith.

Leaders can foster self-confidence by setting and achieving small, incremental personal and professional goals, thereby building a track record of success. Engaging in regular self-reflection and seeking feedback from trusted colleagues can provide valuable insights into their strengths and areas for improvement. Additionally, embracing opportunities for professional development, such as workshops and mentorship, can further enhance their skills and confidence. By consistently challenging themselves and stepping out of their comfort zones, leaders can develop a stronger sense of self-assurance, which is vital for effective leadership.

When leaders enhance their self-confidence and belief, they often witness a profound transformation in their approach to leadership. This personal growth translates into an increased ability to effectively balance support with challenge, confidently handle difficult conversations, and set clear, achievable stretch objectives. Participants of our Liberating Leadership Programme frequently described improved collaboration, productivity, and motivation within their teams, leading to a more cohesive work environment. This ripple effect, where personal growth leads to organisational development, underscores the huge impact that self-confidence and belief can have, not just on individual leaders but on their entire team and organisation.

3. Influencing & Networking Skills

An influential leader with a strong network is a powerful force. Such leaders have more support, trust, and cooperation, while simultaneously experiencing lower resistance, isolation, and competition. These skills are especially important in times of change, where information, collaboration and support networks can make the difference between success and failure. To enhance these skills, a genuine interest in others, as well as active listening and empathy, fosters deep and long-lasting connections. Networks should NOT be focused on ‘sell, sell, sell’ but on relationship-building, having and creating fun, and increasing knowledge and understanding, which can create wonderful win:win outcomes.

Engaging in diverse networking, formal and informal, broadens understanding and makes you far more interesting. For example, I’ve been involved in a ladies shareclub for the past 12 years. It’s a wonderful source of friendship, and we learn and have fun keeping track of share performance, what’s hot and what’s not in various industries and buying and selling. Up until COVID, we were doing exceptionally well, and we ‘sold it all’ pre-Brexit and bought back in when the prices had dropped. It provides a completely different perspective on inflation, changing customer needs and business.

4. Being a Good Problem Solver

In a world that demands quick solutions, leaders must be agile and adept at collaborative problem-solving. This approach is key to achieving quick wins with team buy-in, which are crucial for building team morale and belief in the shared vision and the team’s capability. It also helps in reducing friction within the team, and promotes delegation and team-working.

Good problem-solving skills involve actively seeking opportunities to listen to the team’s views, have healthy debates to stress-test and find the best solutions, understanding diverse and different perspectives, and ensuring the team hear others’ views too. This is progressed into solutions by filtering the wheat from the chaff, finding the few key factors that will deliver 80% of the desired outcome, and crafting a vision that everyone can see, to ensure everyone knows ‘what the game is, and how to play it’. After all, if it’s your vision, and you’ve not asked for my opinion in crafting it, why should I help you in fixing it later?

The Forcefield Tool is one of my personal favourites and easy to use with teams. Strategic SWOTs and even Mindmaps are useful – as long as you filter the answers. Even if you know the answer, if you’ve time, it’s worth asking the team’s opinion because they will feel valued and buy into the vision and actions more readily. If you don’t have the time, why not? The more you do this, the quicker it is to consult the team and get buy into the pivot.


Take an Aspirin - Developing Confident Leaders

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Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you next month!

Team Aspirin - Susannah, Heath and Kyle


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