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10 Ways to Step Up Your Leadership Today

No matter who you are, or the type of company you oversee, there are some universal ways you can be better at it.

Strong leadership is a lifelong pursuit that requires continuous evaluation and improvement.  Every leader has his own style, and every company needs a personalized approach.  

That said, there are 10 things any entrepreneur in any organization can do to deliver results:

1. Don't try to get stuff done. 

That's not your job.  As CEO, your job is to get others to execute for you.  A leader is the only one who can drive the big strategy, so being caught in the weeds will only undermine the ability for everyone else to win.

2. Forget about democracy. 

You want to be a supportive, open-minded autocrat.  If you make soft suggestions and ask for input, you create a lack of confidence among your subordinates.  Be assertive; lead by unwavering decisiveness.

3. Never say 'start small.' 

Seek out the big ideas and drive your team to achieve them.  If you start small, you succeed small.

4. Make time your enemy. 

The best CEOs move faster, get to scale sooner, and make things happen now.  Impatience is a critical tool to motivate results.

5. Tell exciting stories.

Having a vision and strong direction is only as good as how well you convince others to believe in what you're saying.  Not much is as important as being able to relay--in person, or on paper--through stories that inspire others.

6. Deliver finished materials. 

Any document that feels raw and rushed was not thought through carefully, and won't be taken seriously. Pay close attention to typos, punctuation, page breaks, headers, and footers. Perfect formatting and proofreading are essential elements to sell your ideas.

7. Prepare extensively for every meeting. 

The more structure you can create as CEO, the more your team will know how to deliver results.  You want to write crafted agendas, and make employees accountable.  Provide clear roles and clarify expectations in advance, and oversee meetings by deliberately pacing each section.

8. Remove staffers who don't crush it. Immediately.

The only route to success is getting great people to achieve greatness.  The clichés are true: few get better at hiring; many get better at firing.  Being one man down is better than having an underperformer.

9. Don't turn "off"--ever. 

If you're going to inspire a team, you must avoid blackout periods, and communicate more often and more clearly than anyone else.  Silence results in complacency, so always respond.  Weekends and nights are just as important.

10. Behave like your company is publicly-traded. 

What would you do if you knew that every decision you made would be visible to shareholders, affect share price, and put your job on the line?  Operate from this perspective and your biggest ideas will rise to the forefront.

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Last updated: Jan 31, 2013

DAVE BALTER

Dave Balter is the founder of the social marketing company BzzAgent, which was acquired in 2011 by dunnhumby, where he now serves as global head of investments. He is also founder and CEO of skill-testing platform Smarterer, and an investor or advisor to a dozen startups.




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