Leaders guide countries, shape businesses and inspire followers. They may be official in title, or simply influential in action. Regardless of the makeup, leaders impact lives.

So what makes a masterful leader?

If you take a look at Amazon, you'll find over 130,000 books and nearly 37 million written pages of advice on the subject.

It's an age-old question with lots of suggestions and opinions.

And I have one too.

Leadership is a relatively simple formula that any individual can master. I've seen the simple formula work in individuals that you'd never consider "leadership material".

In fact, I once had a leader with the charisma of a box. He had little to no speaking eloquence. He had no personal style to speak of, and his social interactions were usually downright awkward.

You would never peg him as a leader.

Yet I - and the hundreds of people he led - would follow him into the heat of any battle with full confidence and support. No questions asked.

Now that's leadership!

His secret, and the secrets of other masterful leaders?

1. Be Knowledgeable

If you're a plumber, know more about plumbing than anyone else. If you're a graphic artist, find your niche and master design elements better than the crowd of followers.

There is no shortcut here. No excuses. Do the time. Learn and excel at your trade. No exceptions.

People are smart. They'll run to the leader that has something to teach and share, and run from the leader who knows little or nothing.

2. Build Relationships With Your People

Somehow, military training and policies regarding fraternization between soldiers of different grades crept into corporate America, and now dictates relationships between leaders and their employees.

That may work for the battlefield, but it doesn't cut it in business. And with the incoming millennial generation - they'll have none of that vain puffery.

Want to be a masterful leader?

Take the time to know your people. Build a relationship. Take an interest. Remember key dates and names. Take an interest in their families. Have genuine concern and care.

Be human.

3. Make Your People Better than You

You'll shine brightest when the people you lead become better and more accomplished than you.

Now, I realize that is contrary to how most GenXers and Boomers learned to lead.

But truly masterful leaders understand that their biggest accomplishment comes from helping their people spread their wings and soar.

It's the same thing parents think of when they raise their children. Why is it any different in the workplace?

It's not.

To be a truly masterful leader, invest in your people and help them shine brighter than you (and you'll find yourself shining exponentially yourself).

4. Steer from the Front, Cheer from Behind

Following the same lines of making people better than you, this is an easy to master - but rarely practiced - skill in leadership.

When most individuals hit the leadership ranks they think they've "made it" and no longer have to do what the little guy does. Don't make that mistake.

Never ask your people to do anything you're not willing to do yourself (skillets aside).

When your team experiences success, let them take the credit. Make sure they take the credit. Shine the spotlight on them.

And when you're pointing your finger towards their successes, you'll quickly see you have three fingers pointing right back at you and your leadership.


That's it. Just four simple techniques.

Leadership doesn't have to be hard. You don't have to be the most attractive, charismatic or eloquent person in the room.

If you do more for your people than what your people can do for you - you'll find yourself becoming a truly masterful leader.