Photo of business leader worth following

When you think “successful leader,” which names come to mind? Are you drawn toward financial industry titans or political tycoons? Perhaps it’s those disrupting the world’s most competitive spaces — such as the internet, healthcare, or space itself. Maybe the names consistently topping the Forbes Most Powerful Women list also make your list of leadership icons to follow. Whichever industry leaders you admire, they probably share these techniques for success.

1. Take Initiative

Too often we shy away from uncertainty; we wait to be asked, we wait for the sure thing. But the boldness to be proactive is one of the major differentiators between the good and the exceptional. “Taking initiative pays off,” according to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. “It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do.” So, go with your gut, and don’t be afraid to raise your hand.

2. Embrace Failure

This is one tip echoed by virtually every famous name in startup history. If you’re not risking failure from time to time, you’re minimizing your shot at success. As the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, famously said, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

3. Be Communicative and Clear

As renowned author Brene Brown succinctly said, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” Communication is key in any business venture, but the skillset is a dealbreaker when it comes to startup success. If you have your heart set on becoming a rockstar boss for your own startup or small business, communicate clearly, early, and often!

4. Find the Balance

Yes, you can have it all — whatever your definition of all is — but you have to be intentional about your time and prioritize balance. Not even the most dedicated, brilliant entrepreneurs are true robots. Humans do burn out.

So, invest in organizational skills. Consider time-blocking techniques if you’re struggling to not overstretch yourself. Maintain healthy relationships with reliable accountability buddies who will remind you of your big-picture priorities and keep you between the ditches. And don’t underestimate the human need to decompress! It’s okay to step away from time to time. Work-life balance is a thing! As legendary Dolly Parton once said, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life!”

Leaders Never Stop Learning to Be Leaders

Leadership can be defined in many ways, but a quality leader is always, always, always working on improving their leadership. Before you choose a business leader to follow, ask yourself what that leader is asking of themselves.