22 Self-Improvement Areas for Effective Leadership

As a manager, you need to be an exemplary leader in order to help your organization grow.

There are lots of leadership traits that define great managers. Most of them are hard to observe and investigate unless you know what you are looking for.

In this piece, I will uncover some of the most important traits that we look for when hiring intrapreneurs and top talent internally, as well as the main areas to work on with individuals and managers for professional self-improvement across different organizations.


1. Defining Success

In order to be successful, you first need to figure out what success means for you.

Success strikes differently for different people.

But more importantly, if you do not know what you are striving for, odds are you are going to be unhappy and dissatisfied with your accomplishments. Dig deeper into your value framework and find out what makes you happy, settle down with specific accomplishments, work towards your goals, and celebrate milestones.

Once you achieve the first level, move forward to expanding upon the definition of success.

Mario Peshev

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2. Seeing The Bigger Picture

We miss out on different promotion opportunities, partnerships, or hiring top talent unless we look at the bigger picture.

Sometimes, we are fairly narrow-minded when it comes to assessing different situations with people.

But in reality, if we look deeper, we can uncover a lot more opportunities to achieve better ROI, or tackle new directions.

Always strive to look at the bigger picture before making a decision.

3. Developing Discipline

Being disciplined and knowing what you are fighting for and what you are aiming for is just as integral as defining success.

Moreover, it is a complementary skill by itself.

I have developed a detailed guide that uncovers how to build discipline for yourself and how to adapt it for your teamwork.

Developing Discipline

4. Discovering Intrinsic Motivation

There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic

The extrinsic type of motivation is related to external factors around different activities you deal with.

Intrinsic motivation is a lot more important because it digs deeper into your value system and leads to satisfaction on a much deeper level.

For instance, if the paycheck is the only thing that keeps you at work, it is 100% extrinsic motivation. But if you find a job or build a business that brings you joy as a result of what you do on a day to day, then your increasing motivation is going to be a lot stronger.

For an in-depth discussion on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, check out my complete motivation guide.

5. Entering Focus Mode

Getting back on track after getting distracted can waste so much of your time. 

It requires an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to focus back on a previous task according to a study by the University of California. Aside from that, distractions cause more than 40 percent of people to experience pressure and anxiety especially when they are unable to finish their work.

It is integral to be capable of entering focus mode while many business leaders are swamped 24/7.

Even the best ones and the biggest billionaires are booking time for themselves. 

Scheduling time for focused work or strategy, planning, reading, learning, or even multitasking will really accomplish a lot more for you on a personal level, and your satisfaction increases.

6. Increasing Productivity

We all have 24 hours a day at our disposal.

The question is: how do you utilize them in the most efficient manner?

The difference between great leaders and regular people is mostly related to scheduling, planning, and organizing workload. 

Efficient organizations are organizations that are achieving high productivity results and better output in less time with less effort, which is what all leaders should strive for. 

To increase productivity, check out the following productivity frameworks and techniques                 :

Productivity Frameworks

7. Clearing Communication

If I have to rank these skills up, communication would be my number one trait.

I would look for clear and crisp workplace communication manifested through the following:

  • escalating on time
  • reporting challenges
  • foreseeing obstacles
  • asking promptly for clarifications

Communication taps into every area of business or career growth. 

No matter what you do, failing to produce and abide by a clear communication protocol will always be an obstacle in your professional development.

8. Developing Soft Skills

There are plenty of soft skills you may want to take care of.

Some of them are also covered in this list, including communication or negotiation skills, or other traits that you want to improve so that you can operate properly within a team environment.

Regardless of your career ambitions, you are always going to be working with people in your team, bosses, colleagues, subordinates, majors, vendors, partners.

Professional soft skills usually result in accomplishments, long-term contracts and partnerships, better profitability, and a lot more. It is an important investment in the grand scheme of things.

Here is the complete list I covered in the previous post linked earlier:

Soft Skills

9. Adopting Creative Thinking

Being a copycat won’t get you anywhere. Adopt creative thinking with the help of certain strategies for improving your creative thinking skills.

Of course, following the best practices and methodologies that are already established is a great way to start.

But while good artists copy, great artists steal.

And if I have to assume that, the extraordinary artists just have their own creative flair that distinguishes them from the rest.

10. Thinking Critically

How many times have you stumbled upon a “fact” on Facebook or Instagram that was wrong?

Have you studied any facts in your history lessons that turned out to be false?

Well, I have. Trusting blindly everything you see on the internet, or everything you hear during the meeting, would not let you spark your creative juices and potentially push an idea to the next level.

Check out the following skills necessary for critical thinking:

Critical Thinking Skills

11. Developing A Growth Mindset

The growth mindset is the difference between an intrapreneur and a regular employee.

A regular employee often finds it hard to accomplish a given set of tasks. An intrapreneur or someone who can be promoted within an organization to a higher tier is someone who can take an idea, build upon it, come up with new revenue strategies, think of ways to optimize it or automate it, eventually find ways to hire a team for it, and so on.

As you can see, it all revolves around growth, but the growth mindset isn’t just something that you go to work with. It is a mentality that enables you to think in your day-to-day life, and how to hack into life and just discover opportunities for progress and expansion in a productive way.

12. Adopting Empathy

As a subset of soft skills, empathy is crucial if you aim to scale. 

You have to be ready to conquer the world. This means that you have to be ready to work with thousands of people from different cultures and religions in different points of life, and fully focus on how you can help them or how we can work together. 

Without empathy, you are going to only focus on your logical thinking—and in the middle, a lot of subtle details. They are otherwise going to help you build a better bond, or uncover better opportunities to just peer up together.

After all, empathy is what differentiates a human being from a robot.

13. Understanding Accountability

If you want to progress in the organization, or if you want to grow your current contract with a client you are working for, you would need to be accountable for everything you do.

Accountability is all about covering for what you are in charge of and making sure it is done on time, and in the best possible manner.

In the real world, there’s a lot of finger-pointing, excuses, and justifications when something goes south, which means that other people need to take responsibility in the end.

Understanding how accountability works, and taking care of that level of responsibility is a major step to bring you to the next level.

14. Taking Ownership

Career-wise, or consulting-wise, you would be in charge of certain responsibilities or contracts.

The more activities you own, especially after you master accountability, the more power you will have in the long run.

The responsibilities are something you have to live with and accept as part of your life.

However, this reduces the overhead of hiring managers or Quality Assurance people, and other agencies taking care of what you do.

So owning what you do, and making sure that the consequences are going to be relayed to you. It relieves the other parties from obligations, which is a cheaper version for them, and also builds a stronger bond with you as someone who owns their work.

15. Handling Feedback

Feedback works in both ways. You need to learn how to give great feedback and receive critical feedback.

Receiving feedback is one of the main traits I test for during interviews.

If your ego isn’t intact, this means that you wouldn’t be open to feedback or different ways to accomplish a certain thing.

It may also result in anger management issues and other trades that would impair your work within an organization.

So the lack of feedback management may be crucial for any promotion, or business opportunity.

16. Dealing With Stress 

Taking on more responsibilities, working with more people, and taking ownership will inevitably put a lot more burden on your plate.

If you aren’t used to that, you will end up burning out quickly, especially if productivity isn’t one of your strong suits.

To combat these, you need to come prepared with some of the best, stress management practices.

Stress Management

17. Prioritizing Sleep 

While grinding in your 20s may still be achievable, at some point it no longer is. 

But first, during your early career years hustling 24/7 may be normal. Starting a business in your first year or two may be all about grinding, as well.

This is the feast and famine cycle. In the long run, when it comes to survival and continuous growth, you need to think of it as a marathon and you must manage to get enough sleep to thrive.

18. Working Out

Keeping your body in shape is important for various reasons.

On one hand, you are going to prevent different injuries and different forms of sickness, and you’d be in a better shape to handle different circumstances.

On the other hand, working out is training your body to handle more on a daily basis. This increases your endurance and stamina and allows you to take on more work, or more challenges at work.

So in a nutshell, a body workout improves your brain functions and your overall productivity.

19. Eating Healthy

As part of the self-improvement series, it is important to take on all activities that great leaders pay attention to. 

Healthy eating is the next addition to working out. Healthy eating is an expedition to getting enough sleep, working out, and drinking enough water.

You definitely do not want to end up with diabetes or obesity that are going to prevent you from taking on important business opportunities or advancing your career. For further health impairments over time.

20. Setting Goals

Goal setting is a really underappreciated cue out there.

The difference between a dream and an accomplishment is usually the goal-setting process.

Leaders focus on self-improvement, invest a lot in building smart goals, broken down into milestones that they can follow and celebrate as part of their success strategy.

This prevents them from adding too many distractions to the list, and only focuses them on the most important accomplishments they want to pursue.

21. Handling Finances

Finance management is crucial regardless of whether you are running operations, managing a team in an organization, or just starting out. 

This involves anything from personal finances to investing in stocks or crypto to being able to allocate resources to pay off debt or save some funds for real estate, and so on.

Smart financial management means you need to drop a lot of your materialistic goals such as spending cash on parties and clubs and have a smart investment plan instead, both short-term and long-term, to get to the next level.

There are lots of ways to go about that. But prioritizing personal finance is an important achievement so that you have diversified income levels or ways to accomplish your personal goals without being fully dependent on monthly payroll.

22. Learning Continuously

The best managers and leaders always allocate time to learning.

CEOs spend tons of time with the rest of the executives or fellow leaders who help enable them to learn a ton about different industries.

The difference between them and the regular employees is merely the access to tons of smart talent in a short period of time.

But in order to get there, you need to understand that learning is a continuous process, and you have to allocate time for learning.

Different studies suggest that booking one hour a day for reading, or taking a course, or working on a pet project is a great way to start and improve upon your skills.

Self-improvement is a process.

There are many areas you can work on as a part of the journey.

But the hidden traits that top leaders possess are the main reason we want to follow through and accomplish what they have done as well.

The way most leaders start and run their venture is fully contingent on their ability to focus and prioritize to handle stress and to employ empathy, take ownership, improve their soft skills, communicate clearly with the media and other people, and live a healthy life.

The full package of traits and habits is what makes a great leader someone worth following.

So start today, and pick a couple of those areas to work on over the next month. Then pick two more and then some more. Turn this into a continuous process. And remember, look at these as your intrinsic motivation.

No matter what happens, you are going to improve yourself personally and professionally by working on those areas.

Check out this management guide for more tips on management and leadership.

Your thoughts?