5 Principles of a Successful Leader By Dr. Sri Gaddam

#1 Passion and Purpose

Successful people will have clear purpose in mind. Right purpose will unleash one’s passion and help them to achieve their ultimate goal with a burning desire.

Passion is really just a derivative of goal-setting. Meaning, if you set exciting goals, you’ll want to achieve them at all costs. You will feel driven, dedicated, even determined to get to your target, through thick and thin. I have always felt that with passion, no obstacle is too big to stop you in your tracks. But without passion, any obstacle can stop you in your tracks. It really just becomes a mindset. But the mind is easily persuaded, and if you aren’t excited about the goal, the mind will let you down. It won’t move you to action, it will actually limit you from action. You have to choose your own goals, but if you don’t wake up thinking about them and if they don’t keep you up at night, they aren’t big enough, and they aren’t exciting enough. It should feel like a healthy obsession — like you are lusting after it. The more I talk it out, the more I realize that passion is just an ancillary effect of picking goals that really stimulate and enthuse you. If you do that, passion is easy.”

#2 Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is identifying one’s values, desires, strengths, and weaknesses. Self-awareness is essential for managers or leaders who make intuitive decisions in times of adversity or uncertainty. Increasing self-awareness is an ongoing exercise and can be done using various methods:

  • Core competency development or continuous education
  • Coaching or mentoring
  • Honest feedback from your friends, colleagues, and family members
  • Self-assessment feedback surveys such as the 360-Degree Assessment

First identify your strengths and weaknesses using a self-assessment feedback survey. Then identify the gaps that you need to work on to reach your full potential.

Most people get feedback from others. But due to lack of self-awareness, they tend to believe them completely and take actions accordingly. Some people never take action on the feedback because they believe they understand the situation better than anyone else, based on their experiences and beliefs from the past that may not apply to their current situation.

People’s self-awareness is based on what they have experienced and seen in their life. Improving self-awareness goes beyond their own personal experiences and beliefs and changes them, based on the feedback from new experiences in life, professional help, or continuous education. Great leaders and managers possess excellent self-awareness. As a result, they identify and delegate activities to people who are better than they are in motivating and inspiring them toward achieving common goals.

Once you understand yourself with a clear vision in mind, then it’s easy for you to understand others’ strengths and weaknesses, and help them to improve their self-awareness and become better leaders.

#3 Team Building

A leader is a person with high integrity, strong values, consistency, and reliability. The leader makes a positive impact on others by doing the right things and doing them well, thereby inspiring them to reach their full potential.

Building a successful team does not happen overnight or during a short period of time. It begins with identifying a team of “A” players from your trusted network who are aligned with your values and believe in your vision. As stated in the book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins:

Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.—Jim Collins, Good to Great

Once the right people are in the right seats, then develop trust and influence people through consistent and transparent behavior while motivating them to reach their full potential with right compensation methods in place.

A competent leader with self-awareness can inspire and influence others for change. At the same time, a person without self-awareness can never change.

Changing your beliefs is the most challenging task. Have patience and give ample opportunities for others to understand you and your values with your consistent and predictable behavior, and never ignore people you care about most. Once you change others’ beliefs with your influence and positive experiences, they will be aligned with your values and adopt your culture.

Good or bad is a perception. It all depends upon one’s experiences and beliefs based on the environment he or she is in. If you believe in something that’s totally your perception, it doesn’t mean you are right.

If you want others to believe in what you believe, they must experience a few triggering events by observing your behavior and positive reactions in a given situation. A good leader first adopts the existing culture before trying to change it.

Successful leaders must also be very good at developing trusted networks of people who follow them, not because of their position or power, but the leader’s inherent skills and power. Always help people within your network and build their trust before reaching out to them. Sometimes you don’t have to ask—they care enough. It just happens.

Mahatma Gandhi is the greatest leader in the modern era. I always wonder how a single person can motivate and align millions of people toward one common goal. Gandhi created a hope in the lives of millions of people and changed their limited beliefs into convictions that they can be independent and no longer be slaves.

#4 Continuous Learning

In the initial stages, the domain experience or the previous education gained by an entrepreneur is more than sufficient to get started and to make intuitive decisions.

Once the entrepreneurs’ businesses enter the growth phase, continuing education helps them look at their business from ten thousand feet high, with improved self-awareness and confidence. They also get unbiased feedback through the network of fellow students on the concepts you always believed in. Eventually it helps him to change old habits or beliefs; it also helps him take better decisions.

Regardless of formal or informal education, successful people are always curious to seek solutions to their problems. They continually feed their appetite for knowledge in their focused areas. Their drive is to make intuitive business decisions in identifying and acting on opportunities they come across. Continuing education improved my awareness and created confidence in my making better decisions. All these were helpful in developing and reaching out to my trusted network for advice based on various personal or business situations in life.

A successful person learns from others’ experiences while taking advantage of continuing education to formulate frameworks for business strategies, learning from others’ mistakes and successes in the past, and training the subconscious brain to make intuitive decisions in any given situation.

#5 Flawless Execution

Successful strategy execution is more about saying no to many things and focus on very few things that matters most, while creating a sense of urgency and a culture of accountability.

Successful strategy execution comes from:

  1. Defining clear goals across the organization that are aligned with the organization’s strategy using strategic tools such as One Page Strategic Plan (OPSP) for every key person in the organization.
  2. Hire slow and fire fast to ensure right people for the right jobs and developing a culture of accountability, Identifying and removing potential barriers that may cause disruptions in achieving key organizational goals.
  3. Always setting aside time for strategic planning and execution while not getting carried away with tactical day-to-day operational issues.
  4. Defining, reviewing, monitoring, and providing feedback on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on a regular basis, and ensuring that everyone’s KPIs are aligned with the organization’s goals.
  5. Defining a compensation structure to reward behaviors that drive desired results.
  6. Communicate and link the message to various levels in the organization to facilitate making timely decisions.