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What makes a great leader? (one point that most leaders miss!)Have you ever thought about what makes someone a great leader?

Is it charisma? Or rock solid self-confidence? Or maybe leadership is about seeing the big picture and being able to communicate this vision to other people?

If you think that this topic does not concern you, because your direct job responsibilities do not include leading other people, than think again.

Whether you want it or not, there will be times when you will have to lead other people. In fact, if you are a parent you are already a full-time role model, because your kids expect you to guide, support and inspire them (or at least that is what they should be doing).

Similar, if you ever want to get a job promotion, open your own business or become an authority in any field, then you will have to step up and become a leader. And not just a leader, but someone, who people respect, look up to and willingly follow.

Wouldn’t it be great if other people stopped questioning your decisions, pretending not to hear your requests or becoming defensive every time you ask them to do something?

Maybe you are already a great leader, but just in case take a look at the most important, yet rarely practiced leadership quality.

The truth about what makes a great leader.

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leadership beliefsThere are leaders that we eagerly follow, hang on their every word and come to them looking for guidance. Then there are bosses. You know – the annoying, close-minded, stubborn control freaks that everyone dislikes and complains about?

Taken out of context they could be wonderful people, loving husbands or wives, devoted fathers or mothers, and passionate golf-players.

But…

When it comes to leading, organizing and empowering people, bosses’ social status by far exceeds their leadership abilities.

Fortunately for us (and for the bosses) there is hope, because with the right guidance and dedication leadership skills can be developed and improved.

  • So how do you take a mediocre boss and transform them into a Charismatic Leader?
  • What are the main qualities that define inborn leaders that attract loyal followers wherever they go?
  • What is the secret of their carefree success?

I found that at the base of any leadership success and charisma lay 3 Powerful Beliefs:

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Our life is a direct result of the choices that we have made at each point along the way and we do not always do a good job at deciding what is best for us.

If we all made sound judgments we would not act irrationally, engage in needless conflicts, forego gains in order to spite others, make impulsive purchases, marry wrong partners and wrongly invade other countries. But the truth is that we do all of the above without even realizing how much our decision-making mistakes are costing us.

Unfortunately, it is not always simple to make the right decision and behave ‘optimally’.
However, there are a few things that we can do to noticeably improve our decision making skills and reduce the number of less than perfect choices that we rightly call “mistakes”:

1. Consider ‘opportunity’ cost.

Making good decisions does not always mean weighting costs against benefits. You have to take into consideration the ‘opportunity cost’ or what you give up by choosing another option. For example, reading friends’ updates on facebook can be a form of enjoyment and relaxation, but this is the time you could be spending doing something way more enjoyable like playing badminton with a friend, writing for your blog or jogging.

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Every person has their unique, natural, God-given talents, positive traits of character and desire to contribute to the world in some way. Sometimes this inner goodness is temporary overshadowed by fears, harsh words and painful past experiences.

But it does not mean we should not try to see past people’s actions and limiting beliefs and try to bring out the best in every person we see.

I know, it is not your job, nor your duty to bring the best out in people, but take it from me it is a lot nicer to live in a world of bright, kind-hearted and compassionate people than deal with “ungrateful family members”, “hard-headed clients” and “slack co-workers”.

In fact, learning to bring out the best in other people is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself. True, it might not always be easy. It might not always be appreciated. It might not even work in some cases, but it does not mean we should stop trying.

Here is a little guide on how to do it:

1. Do not take negativity personally.

“Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.” – Rene Descartes

Can you think of a time when you were bubbling with joy and love for the whole world? You wanted to share it with everyone you met, right? Well, when people are overcome by negative feelings, they unintentionally share them with the world as well.

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Have you ever met someone and instantly felt a fondness towards them? You only chatted a few minutes, but you felt like you have known them for a long time. This person may not seem to be any different from other people you have meet, yet they have this “x-factor”, or some sort of magnetism that draws people to them.
This mystical quality is called charisma. This one quality alone helps people, who possess it to get a better job, create great relationships with their business partners, become more attractive to the opposite sex and make loyal friends everywhere they go.
You can do it too. Charisma is a skill and like any skill it can be improved and developed with a little bit of practice.
Here is what you can do to cultivate this intangible quality that makes people admire you, follow you, and just want to be around you:

1. Shift your focus

Have you ever been on a date with someone who just kept prattling on about themselves and their achievements?  Kind of annoying, isn’t it? To win people’s sympathy, do not try too hard to convince them of your own value. It will only make them look for an escape door. Instead, shift your focus from yourself towards other people. Talk about something that interests them. Praise their strengths. Value their accomplishments. And people will feel that you are the most wonderful person that they have ever met.

2. Act confidently

Imagine a doctor, looking at your blood test results and mumbling something about you probably being fine. Even if they say all the right words, you will most likely still go to a different doctor. Similar, you can be very knowledgeable and brilliant, but if you voice out your thoughts without conviction, people will hardly listen to you or be impressed by your statements.
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About only two-three hundred years ago a man’s word was his bond and a handshake was enough to close a deal. Now contracts are valid only if written on paper in the presence of lawyers and it is enough to have a plausible excuse to break a promise.

How often do we tell someone “I’ll call you”, “I really want to watch this movie. I’ll clean up as soon as the commercials are on”, “I will definitely get back in shape before the summer”?

I admit that I am guilty of making such promises and then fulfilling them partially or having to go back on my word and explain why I could not do it.

There are hundreds of reasons why we do not stick to our word: circumstances change, something more urgent comes up, time passes and we forget what we have promised and to whom, or we realize that we made a foolish pledge without thinking it through. The human mind can reach extraordinary levels when it comes to making up self-justifications. But all the excuses in the world still cannot stifle the nagging sensation that we have done something wrong.

If you, just like me, would like to learn how to follow through with your promises 100% of the time, here are 7 Great Tips that will help you to become a man/woman of your word, gain other people’s trust easily, reinforce your self-confidence, eliminate guilty pangs and even reduce conflicts with your family members and your co-workers.

1. Be honest with yourself. However good the intention, before making a promise to anyone (even to yourself), ask yourself if you will be able fulfill it. Do you really have the opportunity, time and desire to stick to your word? Are you sure you are not going to let yourself or another person down? No one is forcing you to give the pledges or make any commitments. Therefore, whenever you have the impulse to make a rushed, far-fetched promise, put a piece of chocolate in your mouth and chew it slowly until the promise-itch passes.

2. Ask yourself if you mean it. An interesting study conducted in Switzerland by Thomas Baumgartner and Urs Fischbacher showed that it is possible to detect whether a person is about to break a promise the second the person voices it. It means that on some level we already know if we will do something or not. They also noticed increased brain activity when participants were giving false promises, which may mean that it is psychologically more comfortable to stick to your promises than to break them.

So my question is why promise something that we do not want to do, knowing that we are not going to do and in addition to all this having to deal with the negative consequences. Isn’t it easier to say “I’m sorry. I wish I could, but I don’t want to” right away?

3. Analyze your motivation behind the promise. Why are you making a particular commitment in the first place? Do you really want to help? Do you feel that you need to say “yes”, because you do not want to disappoint the person who is asking you for a favor? Do you just say “yes”, because you want to end a conversation or because you do not feel like explaining why you do not want to do it? Is there some type of reward/punishment involved? If you are making a promise for the wrong reasons, the chances are that you will not follow through with it.

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Whether your goal is to write a book, learn HTML, get promoted at work, raise wonderful kids, or help to motivate and inspire others – you should probably aim to become an expert at whatever you are trying to do.

Why?

Because it is much easier to achieve any of these goals if:

1) You know what you are doing
2) You have authority and other people trust you

Besides, becoming an expert holds multiple other benefits:

• You become a trusted resource and people appreciate your advice
• You hold the true power to teach others how to succeed
• You gain respect of your co-workers, boss and other people who admire your skills
• You do a great job and make better decisions
• And consequently, you get greater rewards for your efforts (money, gratitude and appreciation)

If you are interested in becoming an expert at almost any field here is a 5 step process that can help you to do just that:

1. Start at the beginning.

The crucial part of becoming an expert is to know a lot about whatever it is you do. In order to gain this knowledge, you must know WHERE to look for it and WHAT questions to ask. And in order to know what to ask, one should first learn the basics and terminology. This is where a lot of people have difficulties. I recently heard an interview given by an Editor of a huge Publishing house. He said that if someone wants to sell a book about any subject for beginners, they should probably name it something like “Advanced time management techniques” or “How to flirt like a pro”. For some reason we strongly dislike thinking of ourselves as amateurs or beginners. Maybe it is a quick-fix mentality talking. Or maybe we subconsciously hope if we learn the pro stuff, the basics will somehow take care of themselves. Who knows?

But unfortunately the truth is that no one can become a master without starting at the beginner’s level first. It would be foolish to give a five-year-old the “New York Times” and expect him to learn how to read. He needs to learn his “ABC” first. Similar memorizing bits and pieces of information here and there can help you to put on a false front for a while, but will not make you a true expert. Therefore, do not skip the first step. Learn the basics really well before you do anything else.

2. Understand the process.

Understanding what you are learning and why, gives you the motivation and focus to act on your goal. But you cannot do anything until you know HOW to do it (at least at some minimal level). Therefore, before taking massive action, learn as much as you can about the area of your interest.

There are many ways you can do this:

• find out if there are any techniques that you can use
• ask people who are already “experts” for help and advice
• watch someone else do it
• read at least one book a month on the topic
• search the Internet for helpful information
• make a resource bank of everything that you feel is worthy as you learn (document and save all the helpful information that you might use in the future),
• attend seminars or take classes
• decide where to start and make an action plan

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Have you ever tried to convince your friend to stop smoking and got a “whatever” look in return? Or have you ever tried to make your boss and co-workers understand and accept your suggestion, but they all quickly dismissed it, even though you turned out to be right?
Why do people refuse to change their opinion or behavior even though it is in their best interests to do so? Why do they not listen to sound reason and do not act as we want them to act?
The answer to these questions is simple – resistance to change.
Here are 14 Great Strategies that allow you to overcome people’s prejudices and inner resistance and make them consider your point of view:
1. Speak with authority. Self-confidence is the key to making people listen to your point of view. The more you believe in your idea the more convincing you will be when talking about it, the more people will value your opinion.
2. Make sure that you know what you are talking about. If you tell your friend that they should not eat after 6 p.m. it will not be nearly as convincing as if their dietician told them this. Being viewed as an expert in a certain area is a huge advantage in making people consider your opinion and follow your advice. And to gain a reputation as an expert, you must know what you are talking about. Therefore, make sure that you back up your ideas and suggestions with solid facts and numbers.

3. Give the reason WHY? You might be saying something very intelligent and important, but it is not a good enough reason for most people to listen to you. Why should they listen to you? Why should they follow your advice? What is in it for them? When talking to other people, try to put yourself in their shoes and give them concrete and specific benefits of listening to your suggestions and implementing them.
4. Educate people. People will seldom admit it, but usually the biggest obstacle to change is fear of failure. Even if deep down we might agree that change would be “good”, we might still resist it, because we think it is too complicated to understand or implement. Educate people and show them what needs to be done and how.
5. Show them the consequences of their behavior.  People will only take active steps towards change if they genuinely believe that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction. Sometimes the best way to motivate people into action is to show them what they can lose if they keep doing what they have always done.
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