Career Development

11 Effective Leadership Principles

June 9, 2021

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach


Skillful leadership is crucial to achieving business goals. There is a set of leadership principles that a leader should follow to help them maximize the potential of their employees. Some people are natural leaders, while others must develop the skills and abilities that they need to lead effectively. In this article, we discuss what leadership principles are and the top principles that leaders need to succeed.

Related: How to Demonstrate Leadership Skills at Work

What are leadership principles?

Leadership principles are the set of actions or guiding beliefs that leaders can implement to move them toward success. How well an organization, company or business performs is directly related to how effectively the leader motivates and guides their employees.

There are many different leadership styles, and what works for one leader may not work for another. Because of this, each leader must have a specific set of principles that applies to them and their organization. However, certain principles are found in all styles of leadership, such as showing people how to do a good job instead of just telling them what to do. This is one difference that separates a great leader from a manager or supervisor. A leader should always be involved in their work and have a genuine interest in seeing the organization succeed.

Leadership principles are a framework of actions you can take as a leader to inspire others to work together toward a common goal—they are the foundation for success.

Related: What Does Leadership Mean?

Top leadership principles

There are many leadership styles and theories as to what factors make the best leaders. The following leadership principles are commonly seen as vital to success:

  1. Lead by example.
  2. Leadership is about people.
  3. Focus on change.
  4. Be human and admit mistakes.
  5. Understand the value of listening.
  6. Develop leadership skills.
  7. Promote diversity.
  8. Work together to achieve more.
  9. Have solid values.
  10. Use technology and innovation.
  11. Help to develop future leaders.

1. Lead by example.

Many successful leaders demonstrate how to behave, perform tasks and do their work. A good leader models excellent behavior and must be able to motivate and encourage people. The most successful companies and organizations have leaders who help their staff understand the value in their vision and show them how everyone can work together to achieve that goal in their role.

It is challenging for people to have faith in an idea or point of view if their leader is not also committed to the vision and empowering their employees or followers to take appropriate action. When you lead by example, your followers should see that you are confident and dedicated, and they will want to align their behavior to their leader.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles (With Examples)

2. Leadership is about people.

Communicating and engaging with your team is essential to leadership. Interpersonal and communication skills are essential to any leader. Without being able to communicate your vision to others, leadership will be challenging. As a leader, you should have the best possible relationship with each member of your team. This means not only relating to those people in top-level management but also the people who work in the lowest-level positions and everyone in between.

Leaders should work to constantly improve relationships, their interpersonal skills and how they influence the people who surround them.

3. Focus on change.

Transformation should be at the foundation of every leadership plan. People need to understand what your goals and objectives are and the part they can play in transforming the organization. Once they know the direction and changes that need to happen, they may be more willing to work toward them.

When you encourage others to change and grow, you will do the same as a leader. Change for the better should be your focus, not just making changes for financial gain. Focus on the overall vision and have the ambition to bring about change.

4. Be human and admit mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes, but it can be beneficial for other people to see a leader acknowledge their mistakes as it can help them be more relatable. Mistakes can show you where you went wrong and how you can improve in the future. A wise leader learns from each experience and uses it to teach their employees and themselves what areas they need to focus on to grow as an organization.

People can lose faith in others when they are unwilling to accept responsibility. When a leader owns a mistake, they are often held in higher regard.

5. Understand the value of listening.

Learn to listen more than you talk. When you listen, you could be finding out valuable, new information that may help you lead effectively. Leaders are great listeners, which does not mean that they must agree with everything they hear, but they must try to make sense of it and understand.

There are two levels of human understanding: intellectual and emotional. When you understand what someone is saying, this is the intellectual level. The emotional level of understanding means that you know how they are feeling. A good leader should understand both. People feel valued and respected when a leader takes the time to listen and process what they are saying.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

6. Develop leadership skills.

A leader is defined by their behavior and actions, and a good leader has specific skills and characteristics that help them lead effectively.

To be a great leader, you should recognize the skills you need and work to develop them. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and what your leadership strategy will be. You need to understand your own behaviors and attitudes, and how these affect your ability to lead. You must constantly work on your skills and always strive to improve them because they determine how successful your leadership style will be.

7. Promote diversity.

A leader should welcome diversity and harness the strengths that it can confer on a company. When everyone has the same background and experience, it means there is a limited field of expertise, but when there is a diverse range, you may be able to approach things differently and find fresh perspectives.

A diverse workforce encourages innovation and new ideas, which in turn increases the likelihood of success. Many schools of thought now identify diversity as key to business accomplishments like profit and growth. A leader needs to recognize the importance of diversity and aim to build teams that embrace it.

8. Work together to achieve more.

Collaboration is the act of working with others to share information, strategies and successes, and every great leader understands its importance. Cooperation and collaboration can happen between organizations without affecting healthy competition. A leader should embrace the benefits working collaboratively can bring.

9. Have solid values.

An effective leader must have a clear vision and solid values so they can inspire their followers and motivate them. Values are essential, and they show that you are a credible leader. Profit is essential to every business, but it should not be the sole value that a leader works toward. Employees appreciate working within a great team, having flexible working hours, job security, training and development, a comfortable working environment and a job that makes them feel like they are making a difference.

People typically want to work with a leader who understands their values and needs and has authentic values they follow themselves.

10. Use technology and innovation.

Since technology use in the workplace is widespread, as a leader you should take advantage of the benefits that technology can bring to your organization. Technology can help in the operation of a business, increase productivity, help movement into new markets and facilitate in achieving the company vision. Communication across the world is easier using new technologies, which helps with collaboration. Teams can now work together even if they are based in different countries.

It is vital to strong leadership that you understand and educate yourself on the technologies that are involved in your organization. You can then improve on how they are used so you gain the most benefit. It is also essential to understand what challenges there could be and how you can overcome them. Your vision for the future could be affected by the technology that is available or by future innovations.

11. Help to develop future leaders.

There is always a need for good leadership, and part of being a great leader is to make sure there is someone else who can take over your role when necessary. Thinking about the future in this way is a strong leadership trait. The organization will benefit from having a plan in place that leaves no time gap when people have no leader to look to. When employees are educated on how to become leaders, they are motivated to take ownership of their work.

Leaders should understand the value of education and the development of skill sets, nurture talent within the workforce and be able to identify and mentor the individuals who could become leaders of the future.

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