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7 Signs You Are an Effective Leader


Although you may have the title of manager, you may not be an effective leader. So what? Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence” states that the most important characteristic for managerial success is the leadership quality of how to influence the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of a diverse workgroup in order to keep everyone pulling in the same direction and not at odds with the manager and co-workers. Studies show that upwards of 70% of workers are “disengaged,” or highly disengaged, producing only what is necessary to keep their jobs. So how do you know if you are effectively leading?

Look for these indicators:

  1. They are willing to go above and beyond the minimum to keep a satisfactory rating. They aren’t worried about taking measured risks, because you have demonstrated giving them some freedom with clear boundaries so they know their limitations and can be creative within those boundaries. They understand their SMART goals while also showing initiative for other tasks that come up outside of their job description. They are willingly give input of their ideas and treat team members with respect as you demonstrate. They are willing to sometimes put in long hours to get an important project out the door.
  2. They work to support their coworkers and the organization. In other words, they have bought into your vision and the purpose of the larger organization. Work has meaning for them. This meaning also includes working for a boss who talks about shared values and is willing to explore and discuss these core values in light of behaviors within the group, department, and organization.
  3. Mission is an organizing principle of how they use their time. Because they have enrolled in your mission, they continuously ask themselves, “will doing this help us achieve our mission? Or, is this merely a side journey?” You have been successful in communicating and monitoring “mission control,” and achieve consistent results.
  4. They are coachable. The best employees aren't perfect -- but they are coachable. They are willing to take accountability for their actions, but perhaps more importantly, they also view you as a valuable resource for gaining insights on how they can improve. They see you as a supportive resource who wants to see them succeed as well as the organization. They enjoy the feedback you give them even when you are coaching for a necessary correction.
  5. They feel comfortable saying “no” not in defiance, but as necessary pushback. They understand, you are also human and can sometimes give competing directives and timetables. You have created the culture in the group that “we’re in this together,” and that you’re not an autocratic dictator who expects the followers to act without question. They question in order to understand how they may need to recalibrate their efforts recognizing the realities of a dynamic workplace.
  6. Strategic Focus and Commitment are frequently demonstrated as your staff will sometime defer their own immediate gratification in order to help you achieve the mission and vison. (Personal note – this one always surprised me in my own career as a manager and leader. It seemed counter intuitive that some of my staff had opportunities for better pay but chose to stay on for the long haul.)
  7. You most frequently hear “We, Us, Our” as the pronoun of choice. This isn’t just a matter of linguistic niceties and politics, you see it demonstrated in their ideas and actions. This may even apply to situations which are directly attributable to you. Since you have created a true sense of teamwork and community, the spotlight shines on the group, not you! How humbling! This may rock your ego boat, however research on the most effective leaders over the long haul indicates they have an overwhelming sense of personal humility.

How do you measure up? How many of these signs are true for you?

Let me let you in on a secret – if you can’t answer the above question with any sense of certainty, you may occupy a managerial position, but you are not a leader!

Secret # 2 (for most people that is). Leadership is a learnable set of skills and behaviors! How willing are you to learn it? How willing are you to deepen it?

Training is a good place to start.

Coaching is essential for your mastery! You won’t become a highly effective leader overnight. The signs enumerated above are describing character traits that have been widely researched. Characteristics are clusters of behaviors that only develop over time.

One of the critical signs from above is that your people are coachable. That assumes that you are already a highly effective coach yourself. Are you? How would you know?

If you are interested in taking a deeper dive into your role as leader, I invite you to click this link and schedule a no-cost strategy session.

 Have you downloaded your Free Guide yet? It can also help with your Strategic Plan Click Here to Get Yours!

 Please share with others who want to create a more balanced and fulfilled life and work.



 Time Tip & Free App - Leaders always know their their growth edge, or next steps in their own life long learning process. Decades ago, as a young aspiring manager I heard, "Leaders are readers" as a guiding principle towards personal growth.  But here's the catch, with "always being connected" we can easily get distracted into a time warp when we come across an interesting article, report, recipe, etc. Check out Pocket, a free app and browser extension that can store all those interesting pieces that you don't want to get side-tracked from your original task.Click Here to download. It can even read it to you for your listening enjoyment while working out.

Want to Become Smarter?  This is just too good not to share. This visual maps out the 12 Most Useful  Mental Models, most of which I use and train on a regular basis. When you are trying to figure out a complex situation it's always smart to look at from another direction.

 I hope these newsletters are useful to you! Please drop me a line at and let me know what you think, or if you want to explore a particular area(s) you want to grow in yourself. Feel free to share with all your colleagues and friends. 


Ed Caldwell
Productive Learning Systems, Inc