13 things the world's most successful leaders get right

Bernard Marr
The White House | Getty Images

It might be true that some people are inherently better leaders than others, but one of the things the world's most successful leaders get right is they are always finding ways to improve. In many cases, great leaders are molded over time.

So, if you don't quite feel like you have achieved legendary leadership status yet, there's still hope if you pay attention to these 13 things the most successful leaders do.

Make you feel safe

Great leaders nurture safe environments that build trust and cooperation among a team. When there is trust and cooperation among a team, team members feel empowered to make decisions that can greatly impact an organization. They don't fear making mistakes, because they know they are in a safe environment. When a team feels safe they will also have important conversations in the boardroom and not resort to unuseful gossip in the hallways.

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Inspire action with a strong why

The most successful leaders in the world articulate the purpose and the reason WHY behind objectives to inspire action. They inspire those who follow them because they don't just talk about the what and the how of doing something, they tie action to a bigger purpose as explained by Simon Sinek's book "Start with Why."

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While there are many ways to describe a leader's commitment to forward momentum, I think one of the best ways to describe it is being driven. They are focused on their objective and won't let anything get in their way.

Give respect

Successful leaders give respect to each and every person they encounter. They don't reserve their respect for only those with high offices and executive-level titles, respect is part of each interaction. This makes others want to support the leader to achieve the organization's objectives.


Successful leaders are adaptable. If things don't go as planned, successful leaders pivot and continue their forward progress. They always look for solutions even in the face of curveballs. They also know how to modify their approach based on the audience they are in front of.


Great leaders have confidence in their own skills and contributions. This confidence also allows them to not feel threatened by others who might be better at certain tasks. As a result, great leaders are confident in the power and importance of every contributor to a team.

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates speak at Columbia University
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Generous with time

It could be argued that the best leaders among us might have the least amount of available time to mentor, guide and acknowledge others. When in reality, great leaders are very generous with their time. That's part of what makes them successful.

Want success for others

Possibly more so than success for themselves, great leaders want to see others succeed. Therefore, they mentor, guide and push people to extend beyond their comfort zones to become the best versions of themselves.

Avid readers

Most of the world's successful leaders are also avid readers who want to learn as much as possible about the journeys and experiences of others. As one example, Bill Gates reads at least 50 books a year to expand his knowledge about how the world works.

Know what's important to each member of the team

Leaders who thrive have taken the time to understand what's important to each member of their team. Some employees value time off while another would love a bonus. Successful leaders know what's important to each member of their team and honor those things for those employees whenever possible.


Whenever possible, successful leaders are transparent about the decisions they make and the reasons for those decisions. Additionally, they are forthcoming about the financial realities—successes and challenges — the organization faces.

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Welcome innovation

Even when it feels uncomfortable or goes against the grain of today's thinking, successful leaders encourage innovation and changing things up. They accept that the results might not be optimal as experiments are conducting to improve operations or products, but that the effort to develop innovations will ultimately be worth it.

Pursue perfection

Successful leaders consistently pursue perfection in all that they do. This involves post-mortem analyses of projects to learn what can be done better on subsequent projects, a commitment to personal and professional development, and connecting with thought leaders and even competitors in their industries to understand how to improve.

If there are any items on this list that you're not currently doing, you should start as soon as possible to add them to your professional practice so you will be on your way to becoming a legendary leader.

Barnard Marr is a Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Leading Business and Data Expert. His free eBook, "Big Data in Practice," is out now.

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This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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