Editor's note: "The First 90 Days" is a series about how to make 2016 a year of breakout growth for your business. Let us know how you're making the First 90 Days count by joining the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Inc90Days.
Over the next 90 days, you can build not only your business but also your personal leadership beyond what you may have thought possible.
Let this be the year you become the leader you want to be--in your business and in life.
1. Know yourself. The best leaders truly know themselves. Learn to recognize your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
2. Create a personal mission statement. As a leader is it important to have a personal sense of mission crafted into something you can reflect on daily and measure your performance against.
3. Lead your own way. Find out what your personal leadership strengths are so you can make the most of them.
4. Lead with conviction. Know your values--not just opinions, but the principles that guide your decision making every day--especially where matters of integrity are involved.
5. Set goals. Goal-setting is an important part of being a great leader. It's your job to always get from where you are to where you need to be, and it's your goals that are your roadmap for success.
6. Focus on the big picture. Set individual and team goals that are large in scale but realistic and measurable, and communicate your expectations in the context of the big picture.
7. Accept criticism. Get past defensiveness and always look for something useful and constructive in any criticism you receive.
8. Control stress. As the old ad used to say, never let them see you sweat. Your confidence in yourself will inspire others to have confidence in you.
9. Keep your focus. Remember what you're here to do. Don't let distractions and shiny objects distract you, or those around you.
10. Accept risk. The best leaders are great risk takers, because they are open for opportunity. Fear of failure causes many people to avoid taking chances, but when the risk is worth taking, leaders must be ready to take it.
11. Be determined. Surprisingly often, success is simply a matter of perseverance. Keep trying and trying again until you get there.
12. Keep multiple perspectives. Try to understand how things work from all angles; be aware of what's going on from the front lines to the executive level. This wide perspective, plus meticulous attention to detail, will allow you to recognize problems and opportunities that other miss.
13. Be honest. The best leaders are honest at all times. Honesty is a crucial trait to anyone who depends on the respect and trust of others.
14. Be authentic. Being true to yourself is the necessary first step in leading your team with consistency.
15. Believe in yourself. If you want others to believe in you, you must first believe in yourself.
16. Be a great communicator. Communication is a critical component of leadership. You need top communication skills for giving direction, providing encouragement, giving feedback, and listening.
17. Be ambitious. Ambition doesn't have to mean becoming cutthroat and aggressive. Use your ambition wisely to set and maintain high expectations for yourself and your team.
18. Embrace failure. To embrace failure means you're open to risk and willing to find lessons in mistakes.
19. Be confident. No matter how terrible you may feel and no matter how dire the circumstances, as a leader you have be sure to put on a brave face and let the world know that you're still going to succeed.
20. Reward effort. Don't reward only results; reward the people who work hard and show great effort. Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful effort.
21. Do the right thing. It's simple. If you are asked to do something illegal or unethical, or something that goes against your values, refuse.
22. Make relationships important. Fostering good relationships leads to mutual trust and respect in the workplace.
23. Be trustworthy. Trust is the foundation of success; it needs to be given so it can be returned.
24. Be accountable. As a leader it is your job to be accountable; you must be able to deliver on your promises and keep your word.
25. Be committed. A visible commitment to your work and your promises will increase the respect you receive and boost your team's productivity.
26. Get feedback. The most important feedback that you can get is from the people you are leading. It is a good idea to ask for feedback at least once a quarter.
27. Admit mistakes. When you're wrong, say so. When you mess up, apologize and do what you can to mitigate any damage.
28. Be available. If you work in an office, leave your door open. If you lead remotely, make sure people know you are available. Let people be able to approach you with ease.
29. Be forgiving. This one is hard, but the best leaders know that forgiveness is a tool they must master. It's how you let go and move on.
30. Encourage creativity. There will always be a time when you need someone to think differently. Foster creativity in your team for incredible results.
31. Delegate tasks. Become a master at the art of delegation. With a killer team and everyone working on something in their area of strength, you can make almost anything happen.
32. Don't settle. Look for the best solutions to your biggest problems, not just the first acceptable answer. Make sure innovation is part of the problem-solving process.
33. Appreciate others. The worst thing you can do is take people for granted. As a leader it is important to make people feel valued. Doing so helps you retain your best people and inspires those around you to work harder.
34. Be decisive. The worst thing you can do for your business is be a leader who cannot make decisions. Be decisive even when the situation is difficult.
35. Keep people growing. The best leaders are always thinking of how they can develop and grow their people--by giving them training, teaching them new skills, or just equipping them with what they need to go as far as they can go.
36. Boost your team's self-esteem. Go out of your way to boost the self-esteem of your people. When people believe in themselves, they can accomplish amazing things.
37. Share the credit. Nothing great was ever accomplished alone; it takes a group of talented people to make something truly wonderful happen.
38. Unlock potential. Give your team time and space to develop their talents and cultivate their creativity. Leadership is all about unlocking people's potential to become better.
39. Make learning indispensable. Leadership can't happen without learning, so build it into the daily routine for yourself and your team.
40. Be a mediator. Learn to be a mediator so you're prepared when someone becomes aggressive or hostile. Listen with understanding, and do your best to foster a positive solution.
41. Be consistent. Consistency shows your team that you are confident and steady.
42. Celebrate small wins. Most people wait to celebrate the big wins, but celebrating the day-to-day victories makes a huge difference.
43. Be positive. It's always easy to get discouraged, but the ability to maintain positivity is worth its weight in gold to you and your team.
44. Don't tolerate gossip. It's among the most toxic forces in the workplace. Take no part in it and discourage it in every way possible--primarily with good communication that makes it unnecessary.
45. Be humble. Let your success make the noise.
46. Encourage collaboration. Collaboration builds strong teams and generates great ideas from the interplay of multiple intelligences.
47. Be an active listener. Communication is vital. When you listen, you learn. Leaders need the ability to really listen in order to understand.
48. Become an advocate. Show your team you have their back. Understand their needs and be willing to put yourself out there on their behalf.
49. Honor everyone's time. Don't waste time with petty demands and endless meetings. Let everyone say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done as efficiently as possible.
50. Be a planner. Without a good plan, it's easy to put off important tasks and waste a lot of precious time.
51. Solve problems. The best leaders are problems solvers; they do this by managing conflict and helping people accept solutions and change.
52. Make time for questions. Always leave time for people to ask questions. Making time for questions shows that you are a leader who cares.
53. Genuinely care. The driving force of any successful organization is the people within it. Honor those people with caring.
54. Maintain good technical skills. Keep current on technology and social media platforms so you can push your organization to the next level.
55. Be organized. Your own level of organization sets an example and can greatly improve productivity.
56. Prioritize tasks. Know exactly what needs to get done when so everyone can be successful.
57. Keep a schedule. Find a way of tracking your daily responsibilities and follow it impeccably.
58. Set big-picture goals. When planning and setting goals, be sure to focus on both the long and the short term.
59. Think proactively. Be ready for change. Thinking proactively can help you stay a couple of steps ahead and avoid preventable problems.
60. Embrace diversity. It takes a team of diverse talent, thinking, and perspectives to create something innovative.
61. Be adaptable. As a leader you must be willing to be agile. Things are always changing, and you have to be able to go with the flow.
62. Trust your intuition. When you learn to trust yourself, it is much easier for others to trust you.
63. Be fair. It is part of your role as a leader to insist that everyone be treated fairly and equitably.
64. Be solution-driven. Of course you will face obstacles, so it's important to be mentally prepared with a perspective that keeps you focused on finding solutions instead of deflecting blame.
65. Challenge assumptions. Especially in a world where change is paced quickly, willingness to challenge the status quo will keep you ahead of your competition.
66. Embrace change. Change is the only constant, it's been said, and good leadership requires anticipating and accommodating change of all kinds
67. Practice persuasion. When you can convince others to believe in your cause, their belief will spur them to work hard and be creative.
68. Be a coach. Lead, guide, and educate your team members to produce maximum results.
69. Be a mentor. The best leaders are the best mentors. They guide others through the territory they have come through before.
70. Be a supporter. Help your team members obtain whatever they need for success and growth.
71. Find a coach. Leadership is about helping others, but finding your own coach will help you stay on top of professional and personal development
72. Be flexible. A strong leader doesn't always want or need to be right. Be open to the opinions of others.
73. Be a negotiator. Finding solutions that are fair and beneficial to all parties will mark you as a great leader.
74. Be resourceful. When you don't have an answer you need, rely on your resourcefulness to find one. Let others see how you respond so they know they don't have to pretend to know everything.
75. Always be a student. To stay on top of your game, always be learning something new.
76. Develop new skills. Keep your skills current so you can put in a peak performance as a leader.
77. Be passionate. Keep your purpose front and center, and your passion will be contagious throughout your team.
78. Celebrate achievements. Be quick to praise. Celebrating achievements boosts morale and motivates others to give their best.
79. Dress the part. In today's laid-back atmosphere, take pride in your appearance to boost your self-confidence and inspire others to do the same.
80. Read every day. The best way to keep up with what is going on in the world is to stay current with your reading. Be diverse by reading books, magazines, and online sources.
81. Be empathetic. Understanding what other people are thinking and feeling is valuable in forging deeper connections.
82. Be interested in people. Encourage people to talk about themselves. Show genuine interest in their lives outside of work.
83. Manage time wisely. The better you can manage your time, the more time you have to get things done and enjoy your life.
84. Accept your flaws. Even if you're striving to be a perfect leader, learning to work with your flaws gives you a chance to be human.
85. Breathe through stress. When stress is off the charts, don't forget to breathe. It will help settle you and clear your mind.
86. Be fearless. As a leader you have to know how to take risks. Don't be afraid to take chances.
87. Embrace mindfulness. Staying in the moment helps you concentrate, focus, and do everything better--even unwind, when the time comes.
88. Be inspiring. Leading others to do great things is part of setting goals, expanding your company, and running a successful operation. It's at the heart of inspiration.
89. Work out. Leave time each day to exercise your mind, body, and soul.
90. Show gratitude. One sure way how to improve any difficulty or complication is to pause to be grateful for what is going right.
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