As a keynote speaker, focusing on the fields of leadership and engagement, I probably get one question more than any other: What’s the secret? What’s the magic bullet? How do I unlock my leadership greatness?

Of course, the question is usually offered a bit tongue-in-cheek. Most of us realize that great leadership takes time. It’s not something you can just flip on like a light switch.

And yet, there is an element of truth to that question. People want to know some quick habits they can adopt, some simple steps they can take, to move out of the good leader category into the realm of true excellence.

So let me share some insights—five significant steps you can take to put a little distance between yourself and those leaders who settle for mere goodness.

Transcending Goodness; Reaching Greatness

  1. Develop others. Good leaders spend a lot of their time on self-development—which is fine, and at times needed. But great leaders won’t settle for making themselves better. They insist on making others Let me ask you something: Are you a mentor to someone younger or less experienced than you? If not, you’re missing out on a key method for unlocking your leadership greatness.
  2. Listen to other people. Good leaders tend to be great speakers—but if you’re only interested in hearing yourself talk, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Great leadership means hearing the concerns, suggestions, and opinions of others. It means giving your team members the gift of your genuine engagement. It’ll sharpen you as a leader, and make your team more dynamic and robust.
  3. Working for a cause. To be a great leader, you need a motivation beyond the company you lead. You need to really believe in what that company is doing. You need to have a sense of mission—whether it’s social, environmental, technical, or something else.
  4. Own failure, not success. Great leaders always step up to claim responsibility when things are headed south; and yet, when the company is thriving, they’re more than willing to give the credit to their colleagues and team members. Are you a glory hog? That’s the antithesis of great leadership!
  5. Be open to change. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is about the worst thing a leader could say. Don’t take risks or take chances blindly, but do understand that there are almost always ways in which your team can adapt and improve.

With those habits down, you’ll be that much closer to unlocking your leadership greatness.