The 9 Principles To Successful Leadership

Welcome to this course ‘The Secrets To Successful Leadership’ that shows you how you by training, can become a successful leader with these 9 principles. 

Often when we attend a course, we get great inspiration, a lot of knowledge, but very little exercise. It is only when we practice in our daily lives as the courses and all the knowledge they have given creates results.

What we are looking for is to change habits in-depth and these are not changed if you never exercise. 

You know how it is – if you go to the gym once you do not expect great results, you have to train on a continuous basis for it to give effect.

The Definitions of Leadership

Leadership is achieving results together with other people. The slightly more precise definition is: “Leadership a process of social influence in which a person employs the aid and support of others to accomplish a common task”.

In this definition is thus the whole secret behind the successful leadership:

A process of social influence…

This means that you as a leader must know what influences the people you are leading and this knowledge requires interest, curiosity, and the ability to communicate.

Employ the aid and support of others…

This means that you as a leader need to lead in a way, that those you lead feel that their efforts count and that they aren’t doing it because you want to, but because they want to.

Accomplish a common task…

This means you always have to lead towards a common result. Leadership is therefore not about you or your own significance, but the efforts of the entire organization or team.

These three fundamentals – influence, enlist the aid and support, and accomplishing results – is what this course is all about.

To create a structure for how to best exercise your leadership, we have chosen to use three different perspectives that describe the areas you need to work with to create success:

1. The Organizational Perspective – deals with the big picture. Here we look at how you as a leader act for the organization.

2. The Individual Perspective – is about your internal leadership and how you effectively lead yourself

3. The Leadership Roles Perspective – is about how you lead others.

The 9 Principles of Leadership

Each of the three perspectives we described above has three different principles that will give you guidance on how to train yourself to successful leadership. These are:

The Organizational perspective

  • Principle 1: Set goals and lead to results
  • Principle 2: Engage people
  • Principle 3: Build your brand

The Individual perspective

  • Principle 4: Believe that you can
  • Principle 5: Behave as a leader
  • Principle 6: Lead with effective habits

The Leadership roles perspective

  • Principle 7: Lead the group towards a common vision
  • Principle 8: Manage the daily business
  • Principle 9: Coach the individual.

Principle 1: Set Goals and Lead to Results

We will start from an organizational perspective. All successful leadership has one fundamental element – to create results. 

Leading is in that sense about guiding an organization towards a common goal.

The first step is to create a clear vision with clear goals so that the organization has something to aim for and create a strategy to get there.

Many fail before they even start. A large study of CEOs worldwide revealed that the greatest challenge in their work was the lack of common goals.  Why is this such a big problem?

Well, if you don’t know where you’re going (vision and goals), you won’t know how to get there (strategy). 

Without goals, you don’t know what to do or focus on – you just work, without understanding the purpose. This often results in a stressful organization.

What’s the difference between a vision and a goal?

When we use the word “vision”, we mean a mental picture of the way we want the future to pan out.

To create a vision of where we are going is something that is unique to humans. 

We can close our eyes and imagine lying down on a warm tropical beach. We all share this ability and it is by creating and painting a picture of the future for our team that we set an engaging vision.

It can be expressed both in the image and in text, but everyone in the team should be able to “see it in front of them” in order to buy in on the vision.

A good example of a clear vision is John F Kennedy’s vision of “putting a man on the moon before the end of this decade”. Everyone could imagine what it would look like with a man on the moon.

The strength of a vision is that if we decide something specific that we can imagine before it is done, this will help steer us in the right direction.

When we talk about goals we mean S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, and Timed) like “achieving 200.000 USD in revenue by the end of this month”. Goals are used to tell us step-by-step what to do when working in the direction set by our vision.

To effectively communicate where we are going and how to get there, we need to express it simply enough so that everyone in the organization understands it.

Many organizations have strategies but still, fail because nobody understands them.

The most effective organizations have a simple chart (maximum one page) that states the meaning of the following key concepts:

Mission – Why they exist.

Vision – Where they are going.

Position – How they are unique.

Culture – How they want to work together, what values they share, and cherish.

Strategy – How to reach their vision (note that strategies are different ways to reach a vision and can change if circumstances change. The vision however should not be changed unless you reach it).

Goals – Specific goals that tie into the vision that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed). The best case is where each strategy has specific goals.

Successful Leadership

Create a Vision and Strategy Board

Draw up the answers as a temple, where the mission is stated at the bottom forming the foundation and vision is stated at the top to illustrating what you want to achieve. 

Position, culture, strategy, and objectives are the building blocks and ways to approach the vision.

Mission – Why we exist?

Vision – Where we are going?

Position – How we are unique?

Culture – How do we work together? What values do we share and cherish?

Strategies – What strategies (paths) do we need to take to reach the vision

Goals – What specific goals do we have that will take us step by step closer to the vision

Allow a decent amount of time to finalize this “Vision temple”. You will get the best effect if you do it together with your team. 

Principle 2: Motivate People

Successful Leadership

People get motivated when they find meaning in what they do and want to devote time and effort to be a part of creating the result the leader wants to create. 

Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. In the report ”State of the global workplace”  from Gallup we can see that only 14% in western Europe are motivated at work, 66% are not motivated and a frightening 20% are actively disengaged. So why is this?

You can start by asking yourself: ”Am I motivated at work” and if not: ”why not?”. If your answer is no, it may be because you do not have a clear and inspiring goal, co-workers that don’t let you in on the team or a manager who does not acknowledge your efforts.

Therefore as a leader need to help the organization you are leading to become motivated.

The main key to engaging an organization is to be an effective communicator.

It is basically about being interested in and curious about your employees’ “inner world”; what makes them passionate, how they motivate themselves, and what influences they have. 

With greater insight into their world, you can easily get them motivated in joint efforts to reach your goals. The first ingredient in becoming an effective communicator is to be a really good listener.

We as leaders need to listen in to what is really influencing the people we are leading and then we can start to talk about successful leadership.

Sit down and listen

We want you to sit down with your coworkers, one on one, to listen to how they see their job today, what they want, how they perceive the goal for the organization and how they can participate in reaching it. 

Some questions you can use to be effective in your conversation with your coworkers:

  • How do you see your job today?
  • Where do you see yourself a year from now? How can you develop in your job?
  • What areas need improvement, what – if anything – do you see as hinders or obstacles.
  • How can you best use the resources you have today?
  • Are there any resources you need that I can help you with?
  • What actions do you want to take to start getting you to where you want to be?

Principle 3: Build Your Brand

Successful Leadership

We have two exercises for you: walk as a leader and start building your personal brand.

As a leader, you are a brand whether you like it or not. A good leader is someone your coworkers turn to for guidance, for help, and to entrust with the things that are important for their development. 

The way you act is of vital importance in achieving a great performance from your team.

So are you perceived as a leader today and how can you build your brand as a leader?

If you as a leader are feeling uncomfortable, scared, or stressed your team will know of this and these feelings will affect them. If you, on the other hand, feel strong, confident, and relaxed, they perceive this too and be able to do a better job.

In reality, this is much more subtle than you might think because it has a lot to do with the way you communicate, especially the unspoken, the so-called non-verbals.

Body language, tone, the pace of voice and posture, is actually of more importance than the exact words you say. Just think of a leader standing and giving a presentation.

The words come out of the persons’ mouth, she or he points to a PowerPoint slide and explains how everything is, but you feel neither the commitment, enthusiasm, or inspiration.

The words might be right but the way they are communicated does not send positive signals to make you feel “This is a leader I respect and who I want to be my leader”

Lead with the body

The best and easiest way to strengthen your leadership is through powerful body language. Therefore we suggest that you over the coming week straighten yourself up, stand up tall and straight with a stronger frame. 

When you are walking stand up tall and try to slow down and have a high gaze – not stooping with a stressed walk. This way you will feel more confident, more relaxed, and not so stressed.

Try this during the whole week, then evaluate. Did you notice anything different when you walked like this as opposed to how it feels when you walk as usual? 

When you stand up tall will not only others but also you feel a greater strength. You will believe more in yourself, feel safer, and easier see perspectives.

My personal brand

In the same way that we build brands for example a company or product, you can build your personal brand. 

To do this you need to find out a few things: how you are perceived, how you as a leader can use your brand best to achieve results and how you live your brand. 

Therefore, we have assembled a set of questions below that can help you on your way to strengthen your personal brand.

These questions follow a similar process as on how to build e.g. product brands: to find out how you are perceived, compare with how you want to be perceived, pinpoint your own uniqueness, act, and evaluate.

To answer these questions may require some effort from you, both of thought and time, so take your time (we suggest that you set aside at least 60 minutes). 

They will, on the other hand, provide valuable information to you as a leader in terms of reflection, perspective, and to take steps to evolve.

Create and develop your personal brand

1. How would the following people describe you?

  • Boss
  • Colleague
  • Friend
  • Partner
  • Children (own or others)
  • You

2. Now look at the responses you have given to the above. The way you think you are perceived by those around you, is this in line with how you want to be perceived, or is there anything you would want to change? 

For example, if you think your colleagues perceive you as “absent”, it is something you want to hold on to or do you want to change this perception?

3. Now describe how you want to be perceived, what is the desired image of your own successful leadership?

4. Think through what personality your personal brand can best be described with. As a brand, we usually call these a brand’s core values.

I would like these core values to express my personal brand (such as secure, clear, knowledgeable, open, fast):


5. In what ways are you unique, that makes people happy to work with you as a leader (talent, knowledge, resources)?

6. In accordance with what you establish in the above questions, it is now time to create your own development plan for your personal brand.

Principle 4: Believe That You Can

Successful Leadership

As we move into the fourth principle to become a successful leadership, we assume perspective number 2: The Individual Perspective.

Henry Ford once stated:

” Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are right”.

The mind is strong but also a bit stupid. If you tell yourself in your inner dialogue ”I can not give a presentation”, “I can not do this, “I can not have that tough talk with my colleague” the mind will believe you and try to make this a reality. 

But we know what is really real. Even if it is uncomfortable you can probably give just fine presentations, you can achieve things and you can talk to your colleague about the tough stuff. 

You have probably done it many times and you have been fine. It’s about changing your perspective.

Let’s say for instance that you don’t like giving presentations and feel this is very awkward for you. Who are you focusing on then? Yourself, right? 

But if we asked you if you have ever talked in front a couple of people in your family – have you ever done that? Thought so. It is more that we aren’t used to the situation and therefore we have built it up to become a great problem. 

If you change focus from yourself to the ones you are giving a speech to, it all changes. Sometimes we have beliefs that limit us in the way we want to lead our lives.

Limiting Beliefs

We want you to think about and identify any beliefs you might have that limits you. Are there things you are telling yourself that you can not do? For example, “I’m not good at giving presentations”.

1. Identify and write down all the limiting beliefs you can think about.

2. Question the belief – is this really true? Maybe it is more like: ”I am inexperienced in giving good presentations and therefore I need to practice to give presentations, and I can start by giving small presentations on a daily basis when I talk to people”

3. Create a new belief to replace the limiting one with – for example,” I am a good presenter in many walks of life, in my home, with my friends, with people I know, I can now start to practice to become a great presenter”

Identify and practice to change my limiting beliefs

1. Identify and question any beliefs you have that limits you.

  • Identify 2-3 beliefs that you consider to limit you. Also, write down why you think that they are no more than beliefs and the way in which they have limited you in the past.
  • Establish a plan on how you want to question these beliefs and what is actually true, that is, how these are just beliefs and not truths.

2. Practice gradually to change your habitually limiting beliefs.

  • Start by practicing to counter these perceptions. For example, talk to strangers in a group (to become a better presenter).
  • Increase your exercise with more opportunities to speak in groups.

Principle 5: Behave as a leader

Successful Leadership

The way you act, live and behave as a leader is of great importance not only to yourself but to the people you are leading. 

So how do you behave today? Are you late to meetings? Unorganized? A poor listener? Do you interrupt people? Are you taking care of your body?

The things you do affect others, and the more you want your team to behave a certain way, the more you have to behave accordingly. 

They turn to you for guidance (consciously or unconsciously) so you have to be a good example of how to behave in order to succeed. Otherwise, they will not believe or trust you.

I Will Behave As I Want My Team To Behave

We suggest that you consciously work on behaving the way you want your team to behave. To do this effectively, set up a number of behaviors you want to see in your team and begin to practice it. Here’s an example of a pledge and a list which you can copy or be inspired by:

“As of today I will start behaving like I would want my team to behave. I Hereby pledge to the following:”

  • ”I will be on time for every meeting”
  • ”I will engage in dialogues by trying to understand first and then giving my view second”
  • ”I will not interrupt. It’s a way of saying ”I am not listening”
  • ”I will listen to the needs of my body and treat it so that it will last for a long time”

Step 1 – Create a pledge with a list of the behaviors you want to see in your team.

  • From today I will start to behave like I want my team to do.
  • I hereby promise that ….

Step 2 – Practice these new behaviors

Principle 6: Lead with Effective Habits

Successful Leadership

Let’s face it – we like habits. Have you ever considered how much of your life is based on habits? Just think of it.

Do you usually wake up in the morning about the same time, take a shower, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, go to work/school, eat lunch, talk to people at work, go for coffee, work your email, …you get it. 

Most of our lives are based on habits, and that is good – if the habits are good, that is.

successful leaders work with good habits that lead themselves and their team in a good way. The more good habits you implement in an organization the better the result.

So if you have a bad habit (in your own opinion) – how can you change them? It has to do with the association you make. 

Say for instance that you have the habit of eating candy every day, but you don’t really want to do that. Then you can think about it in the following ABC analysis:

A – Attention, I see a candy bar

B – Behavior – I eat the candy bar

C – Consequence 

  • Short Term – ”It is good and tastes sweet in the mouth”
  • Long Term – ”If I eat candy every day I will gain weight and be unhealthy”

In order to change a bad habit, we do best by associating a positive feeling as a consequence of changing the habit. 

In the above example, for instance, we connect with positive consequences to the long term perspective to help get the short-term positive consequence: “If I see a piece of candy, I choose not to eat every day, since I want to remain healthy.”

Maintain Or Change Habits

  1. Below is a way to change the habits you no longer want:
  2. Create a list of the habits you like and want to keep.
  3. Then create another list with habits you want to change.
  4. Change the bad habits by associating a positive feeling as a consequence by changing the habit. For example ”By getting to the meeting in good time I can prepare, I am relaxed and I am leading by example to my organization.
  5. Create an action list based on the habits you want to change: From now on I will…

Once you acted on these points and created an action list, it is time to take action and follow up.

Principle 7: Lead The Group Towards A Common Vision

From the third perspective – the leader perspective, we in principle 7 look at your role as a leader of the group.

The role of the leader is to get the group engaged and organized to accomplish a common task. As leaders, we have to communicate so that people want to devote their time and effort to do so.

The role of the Leader is the one you use when creating visions, get the organization engaged and put together, and lead teams. So where is the team you are leading right now?

The psychologist Bruce Tucker found 5 stages a team can go through:

  • Forming
  • Norming
  • Storming
  • Performing
  • Mourning

Forming – a stage people are often positive and anxious to get going and where it is important for you as a leader to play a vital part since the roles aren’t clear yet.

Norming – In this stage things are getting better and working well. Little conflict and more solutions characterize this stage. Team members may socialize more and help each other out. In this stage, you can take a step back and let them do the job.

Storming – In this stage, people start to settle in and also push the boundaries that were established in the forming stage. In this stage, many teams fail especially if you never move to the next stage. Conflict among team members challenge to your role as a leader and priorities that go wrong can happen in this stage. In this stage, it is important to be clear about where you are going and solve problems to go to the next stage.

Performing – In this stage the team is performing well without friction. Structures and processes work well. In this stage, you can delegate most of the tasks and develop team members.

Mourning – in some cases you also have a mourning stage where something isn´t anymore. A project is finished, a group has dissolved, a company has reorganized and things aren´t as they used to be. As a leader in this stage, you have to work with the importance of change, not neglecting a good history but look for new ways to engage in the present and future.

By recognizing what stage your team is in you are able to more clearly see what needs to be done.

What stage is your team in?

In what stage is your team right now? If you aren’t in the performing stage – what can you as a leader do to get you there? Establish steps to take you there in the most efficient manner.

Principle 8: Manage The Daily Business

As a manager you need to manage the daily business, a person, or a task. If the leader role is more strategic – pointing out the direction – the manager role is more practical – getting things done. 

It is as a manager that you need to make decisions and get things done. This doesn’t necessarily mean to do it yourself but you have to get it done. It is an actionable role and requires that you act now.

Getting things done

A manageable exercise is a 4D principle: Do, Dump, Delegate, Defer

For everything that needs to be managed do one of the following:

  • DO – start at once
  • DUMP, throw it away
  • DELEGATE, Delegate at once
  • DEFER then set up when it is to be handled

Use the method every day, then evaluate how it worked out for you.

Principle 9: Coach The Individual

Successful Leadership

The third role of a leader is as the coach which in reality stands for helping someone else reach their goals. 

It emphasizes on different parts that is necessary in order to help a person use his or her resources most effectively.

Now – What is the situation right now?

Outcome – What are you aiming for, vision, goals, outcomes?

Problems – What possible problems do you see or experience in achieving your outcome?

Resources – What resources do you need (own or others) to achieve your outcome

Action – What actions will you start right now to get towards your outcome

Follow up – What feedback do you get so that you can change and alter the way in order to achieve your outcome.

In Closing:

Congratulations you have now gone through the 9 different principles typical of successful leadership. 

These 9 principles of successful leadership are something you can always turn to in order to find strength and guidance.

Ask yourself:

  1. Am I creating results?
  2. Do I engage the team so that we are getting closer to our goal?
  3. Do I use my personal brand in the best possible way?
  4. Do I have beliefs that empower me or limiting beliefs?
  5. Do I perform a behavior I want as a leader?
  6. Do I use good habits that I can install in myself and others?
  7. Do I use my role as a leader to engage people to willingly give of their time and resources to achieve our common goals?
  8. Do I manage the business so that things move forward and take the necessary decisions?
  9. Do I coach the organization to be a little bit better every day?


Leadership is about achieving results together with other people. The more precise definition is that: “leadership is the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”.

In this definition is thus the whole secret behind the successful leadership:

A process of social influence…

…means that you as a leader must know what influences the people you are leading and this knowledge requires interest, curiosity, and the ability to communicate.

Enlist the aid and support of others…

…means that you as a leader need to lead in a way, that those you lead feel that their efforts count and that they aren’t doing it because you want to, but because they want to.

The accomplishment of a common task…

…means you always have to lead towards a common result. Leadership is therefore not about you or your own significance, but the efforts of the entire organization or team.

These three fundamentals – influence, enlist the aid and support and result

The 9 principles you typically find in exceptionally good leaders are as follows:

The Organizational Perspective

Principle 1: Set goals and lead to results

Principle 2: Engage people

Principle 3: Build your brand

2. The Individual Perspective

Principle 4: Believe that you can

Principle 5: Behave as a leader

Principle 6: Lead with effective habits

3. The Leadership roles perspective

Principle 7: Lead the group towards a common vision

Principle 8: Manage the daily business

Principle 9: Coach the individual.

These 9 principles are something you can always turn to in order to find strength and guidance.

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