How can you achieve leadership?

Woman in white medical gown smiling at camera and several others behind her

What is a LEADER in contrast to a MANAGER?

  • In short, leaders influence others to accomplish a mission.
  • By comparison, managers coordinate tasks to achieve goals, focusing on processes, workflow, operations, and employees.

As a mediation and negotiation specialist focused on conflict resolution and collaboration, I work with leaders to enhance their and their teams' skills. I am offering five categories of action items to help you and the people around you develop your leadership skills.


Values and Vision


You and your firm have a core set of values. Your primary task as a leader is to discover these values and understand their origin. When you think about your values, how do they tie into what you seek? What is that you do as a person and as a firm? Think about values more broadly. For example, when working at a grain elevator, workers process grain. However, thinking more broadly, they feed the world. They provide feed for animals. They allow others to have protein. They increase the amount of protein others have in their diets.

So, the first question about values ties in with your vision: What do you do, and what difference do you make in the world?

Craft a compelling vision of what you do by writing it out, collaborating with others, and sharing it with the world. Inspire others to work with you as you elaborate your vision together. What is the goal you are pursuing? When times are tough at work, what will inspire others to keep going and do their best even in trying times? Please write it down completely, share it widely, and regularly reinforce your values and vision.


Emotional Intelligence


The key to emotional intelligence is to manage your emotions and recognize the feelings of people around you. Strong emotional intelligence fosters collaboration.

When you want to speak up, ask if this is the right time and if I am using the right words. Harness your energy to remain calm, confident, and competent. Recognize your energy level. Is what you are about to say going to advance your purpose, or will it cause conflict?

For example, how do you proceed after experiencing a loss or defeat? Consider using a loss or defeat as motivation for the future. Perhaps the loss or defeat will motivate you to practice harder or with greater discipline. It could also motivate the strong in your team to pick themselves up and keep going. Setbacks are part of life. They can be the end of the line or launch a new beginning.

Keep in mind the positive things associated with adverse events. What can we learn? What can we do differently next time?

 After your initial likely negative thoughts, take the time to move your thought process toward gratitude and agency rather than anger and helplessness. Whatever happened, look for the good in what you take from it in the future.


Help and Humility


Acknowledge your limitations, apologize that you are not Superman or Superwoman, and address areas of concern together. Humility is a positive leadership quality.

Admitting you do not have the answers helps invite others to open up.

When you apologize, be sincere. Acknowledge that you will try not to do it again. Ask what you can do to make it right. Promote de-escalation and dialogue to address areas of concern. Consider bringing in a neutral third party (mediator/facilitator) to unite the team.

Practice a growth mindset by looking to the future and recognizing opportunities. What potential opportunities and resources are out there for you to tap into? Work with others to expand your and their horizons and brainstorm what you can do together. By thinking of yourself (and calling yourself) a servant manager, others can see your commitment to looking out for others and being there for them.


Appreciation and Listening


Recognize the positive contributions of others. Consider ways and means to recognize who, when, where, and how to recognize people for their individual and group accomplishments. Consider the situations and the people.

Different people have different ways in which they may appreciate being recognized.

Explore these ways and means with team members and adjust to their needs.

Listen by being 100% focused on who is speaking. Acknowledge what you heard by summarizing and paraphrasing what you are hearing.

Consider what else you want to ask while they are talking.

Do not focus on yourself and what you want to say. Instead, ask intelligent questions demonstrating that you genuinely are interested in what they have to say. Empathize with them. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if you were them? When someone has been genuinely listened to, they are far more apt to listen to you. Make sure you listen intently and long enough before offering your ideas. Others will appreciate you more.


Lead with Compassion


Step back from what you do and consider your deepest thoughts and feelings. What is your passion deep inside? What gives you peace of mind? Center yourself in this peaceful center.

Affirm as a leader that you have a passion to help others in your core. That is what leaders do.

They help others to become all they can be. See the positive in others and help them to make maximum use of their strengths. A great manager realizes compassion means being calm, competent, and confident even in trying times. Help others to see that capability in themselves, too. Help them affirm what they did right when faced with a difficult situation. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Keep that first step in mind with everyone, and keep your eye out for even small steps to reinforce leadership within your team.




These are simply five broad categories associated with achieving leadership. They are not all-inclusive. However, focusing on values and vision, emotional intelligence, being there to help and be humble, appreciating others and listening, and leading with compassion will go a long way toward achieving leadership. By establishing positive intentions with others and applying these actions, we go a long way toward enhancing our leadership journey with others.

Check out these links if you need assistance, want to learn more about collaboration or conflict resolution, or enhance your Servant Manager skills.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]