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How to be a good leader

Techniques to develop mental strength and emotional intelligence to lead and inspire

How to be a good leader

Leadership is much more about who you are and how you behave than your daily tasks and activities . Here are 5 qualities you should acquire to really improve as a leader, inspire others and motivate your team.

1. Ask questions from a place of curiosity

Being a leader means more than just being smart and having a high IQ. What you also need is EQ - Emotional Intelligence. To get there you can start by asking questions from a place of curiosity. That means you are coming from a place of openness and expensiveness without being attached to the outcome. Like this people will be less defensive and much more likely to tell you the real information. Leader who are very technically skilled tend to dive into details and micro management. This creates a lot of issues around trust. You need to be able to relate to people. Coming from a place of curiosity you can better understand what is happening, uncover the truth and take those learnings to solve the problems in the team.

2. Understand people's goal and pursue alignment

Many people think the art of influence and persuasions requires manipulation. But what really matter is aligning goals and values in the team. Make sure that you are completely in sync so that you come to the same outcome. The first step to get clear on what are other people’s goals are and make sure that what you are aligned with that. It sounds too simple to be true but we often forget that everybody in the team has a different perspective on things.

A product manager may have a more business view, while an engineering would care more about the revolutionary technology he wants to use. Those are of course generalisations. But it is important as a leader to understand what people in those roles care about. Sit down with the people you work with and try to understand their personal goal and career goals, so that you can create an environment where everybody can benefit from.

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3. Understand, Detect and Manage your Emotions

Emotions are a powerful motivator in human action are what moves us forward. That is fantastic and can be used for great things, but negative emotions can often hold us back and derail us. This is why we need to combat the negative and focus on the positive.

Studies have shown that as little as 30 days of a daily gratitude practice or gratitude journal benefits us for up to 6 months later. That means 6 months later people are happier than they were before. With that in mind, doing a gratitude practice or journal is one of the very powerful ways, to reorient our brains from focusing on the negatives to finding the positive. When we a mired in negative emotions we have a very close and down state. Which is not very inspiring and does not get us to positive action. When we’re focused on the positive we’re able to be open expansive and find solutions that we would never consider otherwise because we are in such a fantastic place.


Here a typical gratitude practice you can apply today.


Write down every day 3 things for which you are grateful. You should actually feel it inside as you are writing it down. Those can be big things or small things and ideally a mix of both. It could be your kids, your cat, the fact that it was sunny today. Just 3 positive things every day for which you feel as you are writing them down. You will be able to choose better actions and outcomes for you and your team. With the daily gratitude practice you will have more control over your emotions so you can focus on your team getting to the best outcomes.

4. Be aware of your thoughts and negative opinions

Sometimes we think that the people we are working with are incompetent, idiots and aren’t doing their job. Of course we are not telling them and are rather trying to hide our opinions, but unfortunately this is no always possible. Studies have shown that 7% of the message that we communicate are the literal words coming out of our mouths. That means that 93% are coming via our tone and other visual cues. Like our body language, our facial expressions our hand movements. All those things are communicating very clearly what you actually think. It’s leaking out in the 93% you are probably not turned into and are aware off.


Here are 3 things you can do to shift those relationships.


1. Listening and Empathy

Coming from a place of listening and empathy. That means really hearing out what the person has to say. Giving them the space to say their complete thoughts instead of interrupting and interjecting to make things go faster.


2. Come from a place of curiosity

That means really trying to understand instead of judging the other person. Ask questions about why they think the way they do and how they come to that conclusion. This will help you to really understand other people’s behaviour.


3. Look for counter evidence

Look for facts that did not support the negative conclusion you have over the other person. For example you think that people aren’t doing their jobs. Perhaps they were not purposefully being lazy but just don’t know what is expected from them.


If you apply this you will see that your relationships will shift so much individuals will work much more easily. Don’t say anything to yourself internally that you would not be willing to say to others. Your thoughts are directly leaking out through your tone, your behaviours, your body language in all ways.


In order to be a more effective leader you want to focus having more productive thoughts that you are perfectly content with sharing because they will lead you and your people to positive outcomes.

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5. Manage your state

The way you operate is heavily impacted by the state of being at the time. Whether you are presenting to you executives, pitching for funding or speaking in front of thousands of people. Your state determines whether your impact is gonna be ignited or a dod.


Tony Robbins who is known for his work as a motivational speaker in his seminars, does 12h days 4 or 5 consecutive days in a row where he is high energy working with thousands of people at ones. Imagine he would come up on stage with low energy. Would he even been known? No. Of course not. He could never have any impact from that place. But when he comes out high energy ready to go. That infuses the whole crowd to keep on going.


In order to this he has 3 main areas of state that he manages in order to be in a peak place for peak performance.


1. Managing Physiology

Focus to what your body is oriented to. Is it up and erect? Is your head up with your shoulders back ready to go expensive. Or is your body down or low and kind of bored. You really wanna start with a very positive and energized physiology.


2. Manage Language

Think about what you are literally saying to yourself as you for example go out on stage. Are you saying things such as “I am not so sure” or “Do I know this”. If you are saying those things you are not gonna come across well. Versus saying “I have everything that I need ” or “I know exactly what I need to say“. Those kind of statements and language will really get you going.


3. Focus

There is a phrase which says: “Where focus goes, energy flows”. So whatever you are focused on is going to completely impact where you are. One of the tricks you can apply for focus is right before you have to do something really important. Focus on 2 concrete examples where you totally nailed something. Where you felt you were on fire.



If you can manage your physiology, your language and your focus, you can do anything as a leader and achieve your goals.

If you wanna learn more about leadership or discover many other topics around product management, design or entrepreneurship download Playbook here. Playbook is a video learning app for professional education. You can learn from industry insiders from companies like Uber, Paypal or Microsoft how they have done it in short 10 minute classes. 


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