How to Be a Better Leader

3 tips on developing your leadership skills

Lisa B. Marshall
3-minute read
Episode #143

What do Vince Lombardi, Walt Disney, Donald Terner, and you have in common?

Two words…inspired leadership. Vince Lombardi inspired excellence in football players, Walt Disney inspired creativity in his imagineers, and Donald Terner inspired government, his community, and his students to solve the problem of affordable housing.

The leadership of these men made an enormous impact, not only in their immediate institutions but also on national scale. Today I’ll cover 3 tips to help you become a better leader.

Tip #1: Establish Achievable Goals

Great leaders create success by setting achievable goals. Great leaders help their teams to choose the best paths toward success. Through trust and understanding, leaders encourage and enable teams to prioritize and to work together smoothly and efficiently.

One way to establish achievable goals is to work with your team. Instead of you handing the goals to them as a mandate, help them to come up with the goals. Keep breaking the big goals down into smaller and smaller units until you’ve reached the comfort zone of the team or individuals. It is important not to overwhelm them with big, seemingly unattainable, goals. Once you have the main goals in place, work with the team to define specific steps to achieving those goals. Make sure that each person feels like they have the training and experience to complete the tasks required of them and enough time to meet the deadlines.

Great leaders demonstrate initiative, courage and resilience while encouraging followers to work hard to overcome obstacles and complete tasks. Appreciation is fundamental and ingrained. By setting goals and showing appreciation for your team, you will work together to overcome new challenges and achieve even more.

In fact, Walt Disney said, “A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” (From Walt Disney, Magician of the Movies by Bob Thomas, 1966).

Tip #2: Inspire Others

Great leaders know how to influence and coach others to success. They are visionaries who know that change comes through the hard work of the individuals they lead. Instilling a sense of pride and belonging among their followers are marks of a great leader. Excellent leaders know how to provide resources and educational opportunities. They help others to grow and develop new skills. Outstanding leadership uniquely combines vision with direction to move forward and create change.

Inspiring others isn’t easy. So what are some concrete ways to inspire others? Be expressive. Passion is contagious and by publically expressing your excitement, you’ll inspire others. Offer your assistance by teaching others things you’ve learned along the way, share your personal stories, and ask questions about their progress. Finally, be consistent with those you support. Be consistent in your actions, the information you share, and the standards you set. For example:

“Don Terner was a man constantly in motion, bringing people together, finding partners, developing new sources of funding, enrolling others in his cause…Many of his colleagues were convinced that he could be depended upon reliably to produce a miracle a day, more on some days.” (From Leaders Who Make a Difference by Burt Nanus and Stephen Dobbs, 1999).   


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.