Becoming a better leader

12 November 2018 Myra Knoesen

In a competitive business environment, effective leadership is an essential requirement in order to achieve organisational goals, success and stability. To do this, leaders must be able to provide inspiration, motivation and clear direction to their team.

In an article written by Dave Kerpen, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Likeable Local, and the New York Times bestselling author of Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business, he introduces us to 11 simple concepts to become a better leader. 

Simple concepts

According to Kerpen, “all of the concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things - things that not only make us human but can actually help us become more successful.” 

Kerpen further highlights the eleven most important principles to integrate to become a better leader. In part one of this article we will look at the first five. 

  1. Listening - Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors.
  2. Storytelling - After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. Whether you are telling a story to one prospect over lunch, a boardroom full of people, or thousands of people through an online video - storytelling wins customers.
  3. Authenticity - Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow's leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.
  4. Transparency - There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers and colleagues. More important, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night - unworried about what you said to whom, a happier leader is a more productive one.
  5. Team playing - No matter how small your organisation is, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, practicing humility, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You will need a culture of success within your organisation, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking. 

In the second part of the article we will look at the last six principles to integrate to become a better leader and what the golden rule is, above all else.


In the first part of the article Dave Kerpen, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Likeable Local, and the New York Times bestselling author of Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business, introduced us to 5 simple concepts to become a better leader.   

The last six principles

In the second part of the article we will look at the last six principles to integrate to become a better leader and what the golden rule is, above all else. 

  1. Responsiveness - The best leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder today is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognises this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Whether the communication is via email, voice mail, a note or a tweet, responding shows you care and gives your customers and colleagues a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on the organisation.
  2. Adaptability - There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable to most organisations. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.
  3. Passion - Those who love what they do not have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.
  4. Surprise and delight - Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders under promise and over deliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There is a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money – for example a smile. We all like to be delighted — surprise and delight create incredible word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.
  5. Simplicity - The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so today's leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.
  6. Gratefulness - Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great!

 Adopting leadership styles

By adopting the appropriate leadership styles, leaders can affect employee job satisfaction, commitment and productivity. 

Kerpen concludes by saying, “the golden rule above all else, is to treat others as you would like to be treated. By showing others the same courtesy, you expect from them, you will gain more respect from co-workers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles, and yet many people are too concerned with making money and further fail to truly adopt these key concepts.” 

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