What makes an ever better leader?

I love lists. They help me both to remember and to understand things better. That is why I often write down and compile ideas I come up with while reading, watching and thinking. In this particular list, that is based on my experiences, I picked up seven important characteristics any leader should have:

1. Passion

Every great man recognizes his passion, purpose, calling. I am not able to know your motives, but you should be aware of what motivates you, what makes you feel like you have a purpose. What is your passion? Focus on that and let nothing stop you. Surely there can be times when you need to do something else for a while, but get back to your passion as soon as possible. Passion is the single most important trait a great leader should have.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
– Confucius
2. Be the real you

We don’t need to be perfect. But it is wise to be ourselves. That ensures personal growth on something solid. Unless somebody happens to be a jerk. Then he or she should try to evolve. See, being candid but respectful is totally OK, but being candid and rude is never the choice of a great leader.

“Be yourself. People would rather follow a leader who is
always real than one who is always right.”
– Craig Groeschel
3. Be helpful and kind

In case you need some convincing on “why” here are two reasons to start with:

  1. You will feel good. Majority of us are hardwired so that helping other people will give us a sense of purpose and belonging. As a tribal species, that has just been the winning concept while working together with the members of your tribe.
  2. And nobody gets through this life playing solo.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
– Michael Jordan

4. Be able to trust

For a leader it is just essential to be able to trust people: the more you are able to delegate and trust, the bigger the results can be. Trust also has a tendency to create proactive and committed people who are always many times more valuable than just reactive drone men.

There is also a study made by Google, where they studied teamwork and found out that the most important single factor in a good team is psychological safety, in other words: trust. People will need to feel secure in failing to be able to try their best.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
– Steve Jobs
5. BE ABLE TO MAKE DECISIONS

To my experience one thing that employees think is particularly important for a leader, is his or her ability to make decisions when things get tricky. Also there is no need for “a leader” who is not able to come up with a solid vision, communicate it to people and make necessary decisions to advance it. Quite often it is the role of a leader to make the hard choices: who or what to keep, what to invest in.

“Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail.” – John C. Maxwell
Word of advice: being a decision maker doesn’t mean that you need to micromanage. As previously said, trust generates proactive people who are super valuable for any business – but if you end up deciding everything people stop thinking themselves and turn into mere drones.
6. BE HUNGRY for growth

Wise leaders understand that business needs to grow and get better or it will sooner or later start to diminish. But pay attention: it is not growth for the sake of growth or greed. It is to expand your organization’s talent, your own skills and resources to follow your calling, to help the client and consumer, and to make the world a better place. Studies show that economical growth makes people more altruistic I.e. people are more able to focus on good things.

To be able to track and follow growth you need to be interested in charts, statistics and reports. Track even your personal growth. Set tangible goals. Make a road-map to yourself.

“Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not.”
– John C. Maxwell
7. Pursuit of Excellence

Good leaders are never ready. The better you get, the better you understand that there is so much to learn that we can never be perfect when it comes to business. Most likely great leaders study daily, read a lot of books, spend time discussing their ideas, and are ready to use much of their time to become ever better. When you are doing the thing that is your passion, you just keep doing it no matter what.

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
– Albert Einstein

I would love to hear your thoughts either here in comments or in Twitter. Or if you just agree, please share this post in Twitter or LinkedIn. Thanks!

The list was originally inspired by John C. Maxwell’s awesome book “5 Levels of Leadership”.

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My TOP 5 tips to boost and increase effectiveness

Whether you want to get to your goal faster, to have free time for something important or just to be more productive, there are several great ways to boost effectiveness. I have read pretty much about the topic and also done some testing with myself and at the time of writing this blog, I think these five are the best boosters suitable for me. Maybe also for you? So try them out and feel free to share your experiences or your personal suggestions for increasing effectiveness / productivity.

  1. Get enough of sleep

    This is by far the most important single factor. Being tired feels like shit, makes people more prone to accidents, reduces motivation and lessens cognitive skills. I am super aware that it can be really hard to get the usually required 7.5-8 hours of sleep, but it really is worth a try if you want to be the best you.

  2. Do the hardest/shittiest task first thing in the morning.

    Studies have shown that we have limited amount of willpower to be used daily. And EVERY decision drains it, meaning: if you use your willpower to solve petty problems first thing in the morning, it is not getting any easier during the afternoon or evening… Unless you get some rest. Pro tip: Arrange all the important meetings late afternoon, but make sure you get an hour of rest before that meeting to fill up your willpower.

  3. Do NOT open e-mail/social media first thing in the morning.

    Do the step two instead. This might sound stupid as “surely little Facebooking can do no harm while drinking morning coffee?” WRONG! You are using your best time to learn and study for utter crap. Stop it. Read something important or listen to an audiobook. If you’re not spending your mornings in a smart way, in a week you’ll have spent easily few hours just idling around reading pointless status updates.

  4. Do a list of things that matter today…

    This week. This month. This year. In five years. During your life. Start to build it backwards. I.e. think what really matters to you. What you want from your life. Then think how you can advance that in the next five years. And in the next following year. In a month. In a week. In this day. During the next hour. Focus on your list of things that matter. And start it now.

  5. Turn off e-mail notifications and check mail only once in 2-3 hours – the longer interval the better for the quality of work.

    E-mail is a great servant but a terrible master. If you let it pace your day, there is a big risk that you’ll just end up running around stressed and losing the focus on the things that really matter. Respect the list you made in step four.

As a bonus tip I would recommend trying out meditation. Tim Ferris says in his book “4 hour work week” that approx. 80% of the top leaders he has met do some sort of meditation or mindfulness practice. There are also huge amount of evidence and studies that show how meditation improves cognitive skills and helps to reduce anxiety. This can really make a difference to your well-being. But be prepared: regular meditation can cause big things to happen in your life. Luckily they usually are positive after the dust has settled down.

Ever better wishes,
Jukka

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My manifesto

When people are born, they are all equal. But then the fairness ends. Life is not fair. The nature of nature is not fair. It just is what it is. And for the most it is just a struggle to survive.

But guess what: It is up to you if you are going to sink down into the suffering or rather rise above the average. Stop blaming resources, past, or even present. That shit just drags you deeper into misery. Say to yourself: “I let go of all that shit that prevents me from rising above average. I focus on things that improve and enhance my mind, body and spirit. I choose to be ever better!”

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Welcome to read my ”Ever better leadership” blog!

I feel that my mission is to help and enable people to get ever better. In addition to that, I have found out that my own learning improves as I process my experiences with as many senses as possible. These two reasons are the main motivators as to why I decided to start this blog.

The topics close to my heart, and which I plan mostly to write about, are:

  • Leadership
  • Motivating
  • Personal and spiritual growth
  • Leading oneself
  • Storytelling
  • Marketing communication trends and phenomenons
  • Technological advancement, like digitalization, IoT, AI, VR/AR/MR
  • Business development and strategy
  • Generating wealth

I read and listen to lots of books, watch videos and mine information from the Internet, and will most probably write down summaries about those. Sometimes I might fall into being provocative, and because of that I already express my apologies. I try my best to be ever better, and to remember that I have committed to work on behalf of humanity. All my actions are guided by brotherly love, and I believe that as long as I keep following that principle, this blog will generate good.

Ever better wishes,

Jukka Niittymaa

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