I read and listen to a lot of material about leadership. There is so much good advice out there is it easy to get overwhelmed or lost. There seem to be specific leadership styles, generic leadership principles, and all kinds of information in between. I believe the best way to use the information is really understand the principles and apply them to your personality.
I think that is where many people fail when it comes to learning and applying useful information. Each person has a unique personality, skills, strengths, weaknesses, etc. There can't possibly be a one size fits all answer for being the perfect leader.
So what does it take to successfully apply the right leadership principles? Not that I am an expert by any means, but I do have a few thoughts on the matter. I believe there is one trait absolutely essential to successful implementation.
1. Being Self-Aware.
How many times have you met someone and felt like they were completely oblivious to their own faults? Bad breath? Annoying mannerisms? Talks too loud? Too direct? Too nosy? Whatever it is, everyone has faults, just not everyone realizes they have faults.
The same is true about really knowing yourself and your personality. Too many people try to be like the wrong person. Mark Cuban is pretty well known thanks to his success and now his time on Shark Tank. His business and leadership style displayed on the show is probably admired by many people. He is very direct with people on the show and is able to form quick opinions. He can sometimes come across as rude, to the point that my wife can hardly stand watching him. Robert Herjavec, on the other hand, has a completely different leadership and business style. He approaches people and topics from a much gentler point of view. If your personality style matches up with Robert, but you try to emulate Mark, this would be a very bad fit.
So the key to successfully learning from leadership principles and business leaders, is knowing yourself first and adapting those principle to fit your personality. I am not a confrontational person in any way. I will never be a boss that gets angry and yells at my employees. I'm also not the type of boss that gives commands and expects to be blindly followed or obeyed. I believe in working with my employees to get them excited about what they need to do, or at least understand the importance of what they do. If I tried to be a boss that yelled and was extremely direct, it would never work for me.
If you can develop this self-awareness. If you can really be honest with yourself, about yourself, that is the crucial step in making positive changes.