Being a leader in the Internet world can be very confusing. What we call a "leader" today may refer to anything from a Twitter user to a YouTube sensation or a blog author.

Furthermore, the principles that guided leaders in the past seem, on the surface, vastly different from the qualities that contribute to success today.

At the beginning of my marketing career, I wasn't the best leader. I did not adapt well to the changing necessities of business, and I failed to motivate my employees.

As I gained experience, I developed a blueprint for leadership that guided my staff and my companies to long-term success. Suffice to say, my principles have worked well thus far.

These are the principles I will share below. However, keep in mind that what worked for me won't necessarily work for you. Your organizational structure and company culture is unique and demands a unique set of principles.

That said, here are six principles shared by great leaders that I use to make decisions in my business.

1. Exhibit passion.

The best way to motivate my employees is by being utterly passionate about the job I do.

My enthusiasm for the job shows commitment, giving them a sense of stability, and it energizes them to enjoy the work as well.

You've got to find what you love... Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. - Steve Jobs

Loving my work, as Jobs puts it, is contagious and energizing to those around me.

Whenever I feel stressed or down, I remember that as a leader, I don't have the luxury of letting it affect me or those around me.

2. Know yourself.

A leader needs to be, know and do. What do I mean by that?

  • Be means having strong values that guide your life.
  • Know is being acutely aware of the structure of your company and your personal responsibilities.
  • Do is executing the ideas you have.

Using these three pointers, I understand what I want and need in order to move my company forward.

3. Choose your team.

Team selection is imperative for a leader. It shows your ability to find skills and knowledge.

When choosing my team, I look for people who understand my vision and have a particular set of competencies.

Furthermore, being a passionate leader also means finding employees who are equally passionate about their work. My best employees come from all different fields, backgrounds and walks of life.

For example, one of my sales guys used to work in cancer research at Harvard. One of my CRO experts was a former Olympian.

Personally, I don't care too much about someone's technical know-how, but I care a ton about how passionate they are. Knowledge can be taught, but passion comes from a lifetime of experience.

As long as you're over a certain threshold of intelligence, what matters most is determination.

Determined employees feel fear like anyone else, but they move through it to get the job done.

4. Be responsible.

It took time for me to understand, as the leader in my company, that everything and everyone was my responsibility. My staff looks up to me for the final say on everything, so there's no room for blame.

I have learned to embrace this obligation, and also to take responsibility whenever I go wrong.

This is a type of leadership I call Extreme Ownership, to borrow a term from US NAVY SEAL Jocko Willink. It means taking responsibility for everything in your organization, even when it's not your fault.

This helps you acknowledge mistakes and immediately find ways to correct and learn from them, rather than pointing fingers at colleagues or circumstances.

5. Be self-motivated.

Like happy children receiving praise from their parents, employees need a healthy diet of praise to feel empowered and motivated at work. Great leaders motivate their employees openly and without hesitation.

Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise. - Dale Carnegie

Give your workers incentives such as the responsibility to make independent decisions. This makes them feel valuable to the team.

You can also reward creativity to motivate them keep brainstorming for more ideas. I have come to realize that in order to make real changes in online marketing, ideas need to remain fresh and relevant.

6. Have a clear vision and goals.

As a leader, you need to have a clear picture of the company's future. This means having a clear vision for your company, where it fits into the industry and how you plan to serve your customers.

Setting goals is a crucial step in realizing your company's vision. We regularly set daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals. Furthermore, we have a 5-year and 25-year plan of where we see the company going long-term.

Conclusion

A leader needs to be on the front lines of the company. Doing what you say shows how you want it done.

As a leader, be humble, but not timid. Be just firm enough to command the respect and loyalty of your colleagues. Great leaders encourage others to share their ideas, and even disagree with them. It's much better to be respected than feared.

What traits do you look for in great leaders?

Published on: Aug 18, 2016