The Heart of Leadership: 17 Keys to develop leadership

The Heart of Leadership: 17 Keys to develop leadership
The Heart of Leadership: 17 Keys to develop leadership

The Heart of Leadership: 17 Keys to Develop Leadership Skills and Become Successful

When it comes to developing leadership, it must begin with the heart of leadership. Whether you are in business, politics, NGOs, Societies, clubs, or any sector either you work under some body or somebody works under you, you are a responsible leader. You want to be successful in all you are doing. It is said that ” leaders are not born but made”. If you have a heart to serve others, you have a heart of leadership. If you have the zeal to lead others, you have a power of leadership.

Be it be in any level of your leadership, you can develop your leadership skills and become so successful. The most important qualification of the leadership is not an education, power, money, position, people, technology and such things. But it is the heart, “The heart of leadership”. Desire to serve, a mind to suffer, a mind to listen, a heart to learn which together will build up your attitude, and that attitude leads you to success. This is what you need to focus on if you are really want to become a successful leader.

In this article you are going to learn 17 keys thoughts to develop the heart of leadership and become successful in this generation.

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17 Keys to Develop the Heart of Leadership:

#1 Key: The heart of leadership is to Focus on developing people

The right way to develop people is this: 

The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right.

-Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Catching people doing things right is a powerful management concept. Unfortunately, most leaders have a genius for catching people doing things wrong. I always recommend that leaders spend at least an hour a week wandering around their operation catching people doing things right.

But I remind them, effective praising must be specific. Just walking around saying, ‘Thanks for everything’ is meaningless. If you say, ‘Great job,’ to a poor performer and, ‘Great job,’ to a good performer, you sound ridiculous to the poor performer and you ‘demotivate’ the good performer.

Catching people doing things right provides satisfaction and motivates good performance. But remember, give praise immediately, make it specific, and finally, encourage people to keep up the good work. This principle can also help you shine at home. It’s a marvelous way to interact with and affirm the people in your life.

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#2 Key: The Heart of Leadership is to Make People Feel Good About Themselves

The right way to do it:

People who produce good results feel good about themselves. 

-Ken Blanchard and Robert Lorber

Sometimes we may think that ‘People who feel good about themselves produce good results.’ But that is not the thinking. ‘People who produce good results feel good about themselves.’ This is the correct thinking. And this is the way to do.

We should not try to make people feel good about themselves first and then hoping they would produce good results. What we need to do is, we need to help people produce good results. When people produce good results, they feel good about themselves because they know they have done a good job, and they have something to show for their effort.

An effective leader will make it a priority to help his or her people produce good results in two ways:

  1. Make sure people know what their goals are, and
  2. Do everything possible to support, encourage, and coach them to accomplish those goals.

You role as a leader is even more important than you might imagine. You have the power to help people become winners.

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#3 Key: The heart of leadership is to Be Quick to Praise People

The right way to develop that is:

Here is the worth saying, to develop a heart of leadership;

don’t wait until people do things exactly right before you praise them.
– Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson.

Many well-intentioned leaders wait to praise their people until the do things exactly right – complete the project or accomplish the goal. The problem here is that they could wait forever. You see ‘exactly right’ behavior is made up of a whole series of approximately right behaviors. It makes more sense to praise progress – it’s a moving target.

Can you imagine standing a child up and saying, ‘Walk,’ and when he falls down, you say, ‘I told yo to walk!’ and then spank him. Of course not. You stand the child up and he wobbles a bit. You shout, ‘You stood!’ and shower him with hugs and kisses. The next day, he wobbles a step and you are all over him with praise. Gradually, the child gains confidence until he finally walks. It’s the same with adults. Catch them doing things right – and in the beginning, approximately right is fine.

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#4 Key: Developing the heart of leadership is by Getting Feedback from the people

The right understanding of that is:

Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
– Rick Tate

People are motivated to do things that provide them with feedback on results. Feedback is important to people. We all want to know how well we’re doing. That’s why it is essential for an effective performance review system to provide ongoing feedback.

Too often managers save up negative information and unload it all at once over a minor incident or during the annual performance review session. Others ‘whitewash’ performance review and act like everything is okay when it really isn’t. when people are attacked or not dealt with truthfully, they lose respect for their organization and pride in their work.

I firmly believe that providing feedback is the most cost-effective strategy for improving performance and instilling satisfaction. It can be done quickly, it costs nothing, and it can turn people around fast.

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#5 Key: Don’t Keep Inferior Feeling

The right way to understand this is:

No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I go out into the world every day with the attitude that my ‘Okayness’ is not up for grabs. I firmly believe that ‘God did not make junk.’ this doesn’t mean I don’t have areas of my life that need improvement – just that at my basic core, I’m okay.

I choose to feel good about myself. That way I am more open to learning. If people give me negative feedback or criticize something I do, I don’t interpret what they are saying as meaning that I am a ‘bad’ person. The belief that I control my own self-esteem permits me to listen to and hear their feedback in a non-defensive way – looking to see if there is something I can learn.

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#6 Key: Have a Heart to Seek Advice from others

There is a statement goes like this:

None of us is as smart as all of us.
– Ken Blanchard & Don Carew

When I first caught the truth of this statement, it made me relax tremendously, as a leader. I realized that I didn’t have to be the only bright person in the group. In fact, admitting my vulnerability allowed me to ask for help.
Once the president of a Southern manufacturing plant was baffled over a 200 percent turnover in one of the plant’s major hourly positions. Ken Blanchard asked him to speak to the workers in the affected area, knowing they would be the key to finding an answer.

They told Ken Blanchard, “It’s hot as the devil down here. We’re so exhausted by the end of the day that we don’t have energy to do anything else. So if we can get another job, we do.” Then Ken Blanchard reported this to president, thereafter they fixed the cooling system, and turnover dropped to around 10 percent. I’m convinced that any problem can be solved if we involve the resources we have gathered around us.

#7 Key: Don’t push out the important one while you deal with the urgent one

While you are on to developing the heart of leadership, one very important balancing you need to maintain between “important one and urgent one.”

Things not worth doing are not worth doing well.
– Ken Blanchard & William Oncken

William Oncken Jr., originator of the ‘Monkey-on-the-back’ concept, used to say this all the time. For years, time management experts taught efficiently in all things; then Oncken and others realized that it didn’t make sense for people to be efficient at doing what they shouldn’t be doing in the first place.

Today people are often busy doing what seems to be extremely urgent but really isn’t. they spend a great deal of time moving paper, rather than listening to their people or their customers. An effective leader must step back, look at the big picture, and make sure the important things are not pushed out of the way by the urgent needs of the moment.

If your people and customers are important, then you will spend part of every day making them feel that way. Evaluate each day by asking, “Have I done what is really important today?”


#8 Key: Remember the success is not permanent 

Don Shula, the head coach for the Miami Dolphins had a twenty-four-hour rule. He allowed himself, his coaches, and his players a maximum of twenty-four hour after a football game to celebrate a victory or bemoan a defeat. During that time, they were encouraged to experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat as deeply as possible. Once the twenty-four-hour deadline had passed, they put it behind them and focused their energies on preparing for the next opponent. This is a principle well worth noting.

Don’t get a big head when you win or get too down in the dumps when you lose.

Keep things in perspective. Success is not forever, and failure isn’t fatal. 

-Ken Blanchard and Don Shula

#9 Key: Don’t stop learning; otherwise you loose a heart of leadership

When you stop learning, you stop growing

Learning is more important today than ever before. In the past, if a person was loyal and worked hard, his or her job was secure. Today, the skills you bring to the party constitute the only available form of job security. People who are continually learning and upgrading their skills increase their value in their specific organization and the job market in general.

The only three things we can count on are death, taxes, and change. Since organizations are being bombard with change, you would be wise to make learning a top priority and constantly strive to adapt to new circumstances.

#10. Key: Don’t work harder, work smarter

This is a common sense but not common practice. Most people still think there is a direct relationship between the amount of work they do and success – the more time you put it, the more successful you will be. Once successful entrepreneur when asked to speak to a group college students about what it took to be successful said, ‘This will be the shortest speech in history because it’s easy to be successful. All you have to do is work half a day. you can work the first twelve hours or the second.’

While successful people do work hard, they think before they act. They are proactive, not just reactive. Most people mentally have a sign on their desk that reads: Don’t just sit there, do something! The best advice I ever received was to redo the sign to read: Don’t just do something, site there!

If you don’t take time out to think, strategize, and prioritize, you will work a whole lot harder, without enjoying the benefits of a job smartly done.

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#11 Key: What motivates people is what motivates people

Know this fact, motivation is a difficult concept for most leaders. Many assume that money, prizes, or special vacations are high-grade motivators. In reality, what motivates one person may not motivate another.

Suppose you have two excellent people. You would like to reward one with a raise in pay, but money, it turns out, is not an issue with this person since his or her spouse has a good job that provides a nice second income. He or she may see increased responsibility as an appropriate reward. On the other hand, you would like to reward the second person with more responsibility, but his or her spouse’s unexpected illness has created big medical bills. For this person, money is a greater motivator than increased responsibility.

How do you know what motivation works with what employees? Ask! try something like, ‘If you perform well, what reward or recognition could you receive that would make you want to continue to perform at a high level? It pays to ask this important question.

#12 Key: If you want your people to be responsible, be responsive to their needs

The traditional hierarchy is okay for goal setting. People look to the head of their department and to the top of the organization for direction. But once goals are clear, the pyramid should in essence be turned upside down. This way the customers are at the top of their hierarchy, followed by the customer contact people, while the president and the chairman of the board are at the bottom.

When this philosophy is implemented, your role as a leader changes from being ‘responsible’ to being ‘responsive.’ Your job becomes to work with your people rather than having them work for you. Being responsive to your people’s needs sets them free to be responsible for getting the job done.

Make your people responsible for doing high-quality work by responding to their needs and supporting them. That places the responsibility at the appropriate level – with the people who do the work.

#13 Key: A greatest value you can have to develop a heart of leadership is to become a humble

People with humility don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves.

-Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale

Leaders who fall victim to this addiction want to be center stage. They often are threatened by the success of others, so they fail to develop and use people’s talents or catch them doing something right. They want to be the best – ‘the fairest of them all.’

A great rule for doing business today is: Think more about your people, and they will think more of themselves. And don’t act like you are perfect. Leaders need to come from behind their curtains of infallibility, power, and control, and let their ‘very good’ side – their humanity – be revealed. Folks like to be around a person who is willing to admit his or her vulnerability, asks for ideas, and can let others be in the spotlight.

#14 Key: Having the heart of leadership is to commit to “Never give up”

You build the heart of leadership means you have committed to “Never Give Up.”

When Churchill walked out to give his speech, he peered over the top of his glasses and said: ‘Never! Never! Never! Never! Give up!’ With that, he sat down. Many students were disappointed, but the headmaster felt this might have been one of Churchill’s greatest speeches. If one quality epitomized Winston Churchill, it was persistence. He never gave up. It was that attitude that inspired England in World War II to continue fighting when others might have surrendered.

Persistence means sticking to your guns. It’s keeping your commitment and making your actions consistent with your word. It’s all about ‘walking your talk.’

#15 Key: Have a vision and keep that vision alive

We know Bible talks about the vision. ‘Without vision the people perish.’ (Proverbs 29:18)

Leaders having the heart of leadership will have the clear vision and keep that vision alive. Leaders today must have a strong vision and positive beliefs that support that vision. If they don’t, their people will not only lose, they’ll be lost. When difficulties arise, their minds will not be equal to the challenge.

A clear vision is really just a picture of how things would be if everything were running as planned. The most powerful dreams a leader can have is a vision pf perfection. Dreams lift us up. If we really believe them, we start acting as if they are already true. That kind of enthusiasm is contagious.

All great companies and teams have a visionary leader at the helm, who is always pointing at the kind of organization the’re going to be. People have a need to follow this type of leader. It inspires them and keeps them on track when difficulties arise.

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#16 Key: Have servant-hood attitude

Servant leadership is more about character than style. 

In his book, Servant Leadership, Robert Greenleaf defines two kinds of leaders. Strong natural leaders are those who try to take control, make the decisions, and give the orders in any situation in which they find themselves. They have a need to be in charge. Strong natural servants, on the other hand, will assume leadership only if they see it as a way in which they can serve.

You would think that natural leaders would use a directive, autocratic style while natural servants would use a more supportive, participative style. This assumption falls short because it confuses style with character.

I want to be led by strong natural servants because they are willing to use whatever leadership style – directive, supportive, or some combination – best services the needs of those they lead. Remember that the primary biblical image of servant leadership is that of the shepherd, because the flock is not there for the sake of the shepherd; the shepherd is there for the sake of the flock.

A leader who has the heart of leadership will develop servant-hood attitude in his heart.

#17 Key: Leadership is not something you do to people but it’s something you do with people

Leaders with the heart of leadership will always think to help people.

For example, suppose you have found some of your employees to be self-reliant achievers. Because you feel they can work well with little supervision, you stop going by to see them. Suppose also that you have several enthusiastic beginners who need to be told how and why to do things. The achievers might fell undervalued and overlooked, while the beginners could feel you are picking on them.

When you share your leadership strategy with your people, they not only understand what you have in mind but they can give you helpful feedback. True servant leaders want feedback because they are anxious to know whether their interactions with their people are helpful and effective. so don’t do leadership to people, do it with them.

Finally, we have reached to the conclusion. I would love to conclude the writing here with few concluding remarks.


As you have a desire to develop a heart of leadership for your people at your organization. Few more important things you need to keep in mind.

  • Take time to identify the core values and communicate them well to your people
  • Greater leader is he who walks what he talks. So walk what you talk. That not only influences people but convinced people to trust and follow a leader.
  • You must know where you are going and where you are leading your people.
  • Have good relationship with your people and with yourself. As a leader, the most important earthly relationship you can cultivate is your relationship with yourself.
  • Purpose can never be about achievement; it is much bigger.
  • Purpose has to do with one’s calling – deciding what business you are in as a person.

Your life is yours to design. Make it all it can be!


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The Heart of Leadership: 17 Keys to develop leadership

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