Biz Features

43 Simple Things Leaders Should Be Doing

by . November 13th, 2015

The biggest difference between leadership and management is courage. But how does one test it?

Courage does not always mean valor or doing something dangerous. It can be as simple as consistently doing things because they make you or the world a better place, even when those things are difficult.

Each day we are presented with dozens if not hundreds of choices.

“Should I take the chicken or the fish?”

“Should I choose this supplier?”

“Should I train this girl instead of this guy?”

Some decisions will be harder than others, but we should never confuse difficult decisions with the right ones. A leader will have the courage and integrity to follow through on what must be done – regardless of the difficulty.

You don’t need to do anything dramatic to be a great leader, rather than a mere manager. Heck you don’t even have to be a manager to be a leader. Often, the things that count the most are the small ones.

The key is to do those small things consistently. This is a lot harder than it seems. While each of the items on the list below are not too hard to do at one sitting, most of us avoid doing these simply because they’re slightly harder than what we’re used to.

And yes, these points are all arguable. Please feel to leave your thoughts in the comments!

See if you can do even 10 of these items every day:


  1. Listen to understand, not so you can one-up someone.

  2. Make someone happy when they aren’t expecting it.

  3. Practicing gratitude.

  4. Instead of telling them, lead someone to an answer you already know.

  5. Have very specific goals for the day.

  6. Keep things systematic.

  7. Let others speak.

  8. Don’t let money do all the talking.

  9. Set expectations, roles and responsibilities.

  10. Give credit where credit is due.

  11. Practice what you preach.

  12. Be enthusiastic — or at least work on it.

  13. Avoid leadership through fear or anxiety.

  14. See people — as people.

  15. Be humble. 

  16. Understand what makes someone strong.

  17. Understand what makes someone weak.

  18. Ditch unnecessary politics.

  19. Fix something you’ve been putting off.

  20. Nurture growth for others.

  21. Keep learning.

  22. Encourage team members to share books and articles.

  23. Keep yourself grounded.

  24. Respect other people’s time.

  25. Question your own motives.

  26. Be reachable.

  27. Do the dirty work.

  28. Be honest with yourself and others.

  29. Quit multi-tasking.

  30. Cut buzzwords out of your vocabulary.

  31. Appear calm even when inside you aren’t.

  32. Face people in person.

  33. Stop meandering.

  34. Follow through on goals you’ve forgotten you’d set.

  35. Learn a new Excel function.

  36. Make your team lunch.

  37. Avoid pointless complexity.

  38. Don’t flip-flop in front of your team.

  39. Think of the big picture.

  40. Help others to grow professionally.

  41. Don’t hide anything that will affect your team.

  42. Offer to host events for others.

  43. Get to know your associates.

A study by Dale Carnegie Training found that around 3 out 4 employees are not fully engaged. In real world situations it’s often not the big decisions that turn out to decide whether or not someone is engaged, but patterns of small acts by immediate supervisors.

Leadership is rarely if at all tested in a huge one-off life-defining situation, but in a series of long, dreary, often simple but sometimes Sisyphean series of challenges. If you can handle them with grace, tact, and earnestness, then you will have succeeded as a leader, regardless of whether your enterprise does the same.


Help us with this list! What other small things can a leader do?




Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.