What Really Makes A Difference When It Comes To Being An Effective Leader?

You are great in your professional field.  You get promoted into a management role.  You do well as a manager.

So far so good.  Now you have moved into a leadership role and are finding it a struggle.

Don’t worry it’s a lot more common than you might think.

The stakes are higher for you personally.  The expectations of you are greater.  The role is very different.

Sometimes when you read leadership books you get the idea that it’s really easy.  In the real world it’s a bit different.

A CEO I once worked with described it excellently.  He said leadership was hard to define but you knew it when you saw it.

So what in my experience makes a leader effective?

Self awareness

Yes you have made it to a senior level.  Of course that’s something to celebrate.

Equally you are just like every other employee.  Replaceable so don’t get hung up in your own importance.

When you’re self aware you recognise that there are some things that you are great at, some things you are okay at and some things you should avoid.

You are aware of the impact your style of working has on others.

Self confidence

A boss of mine once said that leading was a lonely existence.  Like most I never thought much about it until I was in a leadership role.

He was right.  You have to have a degree of self confidence and self belief.

There will be plenty of times when you have doubts.  Self confidence is what gets you through those periods of doubt.


This can be a tough one.  You have to accept that you don’t have all the best ideas.  You have to accept that there will be others who do a better job than you.  You have to accept that you can only achieve so much on your own.

Can this be challenging?  It can be but it’s better than failing.


You will try things and they won’t work out.  People won’t support you a lot of the time.  Change will be difficult.

Resilience is the ability to manage those stresses, strains and anxieties that comes with the territory of leading.


Managing is about maintenance and running things.  Leading is about moving things forward.  It’s about orchestrating and facilitating.

It’s key that you focus your time, energy and efforts on moving things forward.


For me this is about being able to differentiate between what does and doesn’t matter to the business.

Yes meeting targets matters.  Even more important is knowing what levers you need to pull to achieve the targets.

To do this you need to understand the key drivers of performance.

Measurement and data

There are plenty of opinions or points of view.  Often they are just that.

Measuring and getting data allows proactive action to be taken when things aren’t going to plan.

When you measure what’s critical to success you increase the likelihood of achieving your goals.

Great Team

TEAM (together everyone achieves more).  Conceptually most leaders get this.  Putting it into practice is a bit different.

A great team takes responsibility.  A great team makes things happen.  A great team allows you to focus on what you have to deliver.

So that’s my perspective on some of the contributors to being an effective leader.

What else would you add based on your own experiences?