Leadership For Dummies
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Great leaders have certain qualities that motivate those around them. But beyond leadership qualities, you have to develop your mission as a leader and then continuously examine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (shortened to SWOT) to keep yourself and your team at the top of your game.

Developing your mission as a leader

Once you’ve established a goal, your mission is the plan of action for you and your team to reach that goal. Use these guidelines to help lead and attain your mission:

  • Don’t take an untakeable hill. The cost is too high.

  • Approach your mission incrementally. Do many small things well, and you’ll have a big success.

  • Bring your group into mission development and planning at an early stage. Listen to what they have to say, and make the modifications you need at the start.

  • Work to get ownership of the mission from everyone in the group. Your followers are going to do the heavy lifting, so they have to know what they’re in for.

  • Make certain that you have a “point of no return.” If the mission is not going well, know how far you can go and still regroup. You’re not General Custer, and leading shouldn’t be the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

  • Lead people; manage events. Keep your troops motivated.

Leadership qualities

All great leaders have certain characteristics in common. Being a great leader has nothing to do with how you look or how you speak; leadership involves preparation and accepting responsibility, even when you don’t want to. These skills are necessary to be a leader and motivate people to follow:

Embracing Responsibility

Embracing responsibility is an attitude.

  • Drop the word “no” from your vocabulary (in most cases!).

  • Learn to volunteer.

  • Take an interest in people around you and learn to like people.

  • Promise little — deliver a lot.

Eliciting Cooperation

Your goal is to have your followers trust you.

  • Find out what people want — and why they want it.

  • Figure out ways of trading what you have — the power of a leader — for what you need — the cooperation of your group.

  • Smile at people and look them in the eye. It’s the start of trust, and trust is the beginning of cooperation.

  • Share information with your team and keep them informed.


Leading starts with developing a vision.

  • Visions are more than ideas. They are doable dreams.

  • Visions link the present to the future.

  • Use visions to inspire your followers to achieve more than they thought possible.

  • Make your visions positive. Everyone wants to make the world a better place.


Planning is necessary if your team is to attain its goals. Keep these things in mind.

  • Plan for every contingency — and remember that you can’t plan for every contingency.

  • Leave a lot of wiggle room in your plans. When things go wrong, you can adjust.

  • Make certain you have adequate resources. If you get into the lifeboat without food and water, be sure there’s someone on board who has the skill to get both.

  • Plan for change. Be happy when it arrives.


Strive to take in as much information as you can.

  • Pay attention to the nuances of what people say and how they say it.

  • Pay attention to the needs of your group.

  • Focus and concentrate — listen to only one person at a time.

  • Learn to develop your own inner voice — and then learn to listen to it.

  • Pay attention to the world around you. Seeing is a form of listening, and visual impressions are often the most powerful.

  • Learn to hear the voices of the downtrodden. Their needs can become your cause.

Using a SWOT chart as a leadership tool

A SWOT (Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) chart is a tool for assessing and accomplishing your mission as leader. Use a SWOT chart to list strengths and weaknesses of the team you’re leading and your opponent, then you can determine where opportunities exist and devise a strategy. Use this SWOT chart of a baseball team as an example:


About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Marshall Loeb is the daily columnist for CBS MarketWatch.com and an award-winning editor and broadcaster.

Stephen Kindel is a former senior editor at Forbes. Marshall Loeb is the daily columnist for CBS MarketWatch.com and an award-winning editor and broadcaster.

Stephen Kindel is a former senior editor at Forbes.

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