"The leader is wise, trustworthy, benevolent, brave, and disciplined." Sun Tzu
When I speak of leadership, I'm speaking of effective leadership and only effective leadership. There is no such thing as bad leadership as there is no such thing as bad Mom's home cooking. There is either leadership or an absence of leadership.
Conversely, good leadership is an inadequate and incomplete description. "Good" is subjective and is dependent upon the situation. One person's good is another person's bad, especially depending on his or her circumstances. But you can describe someone's leadership as effective since only such leadership gets the job done. This is more objective. In essence, that's what leaders do: they enable others to get their jobs done.
Leadership is neither a mystery nor requires special talent or skill because most educated people know what to do but few actually do it. Why don't people do it? Because it's hard.
It's hard to have self-control over one's anger, physical wants, and other weaknesses. Luxury and privilege seem to be the path even smart individuals seek. Unfortunately this path is a perverse yet common representation of what leadership is. Thus it is also common to find these individuals largely ineffective.
It's hard to listen and understand what others want instead of what "I" want.
It's hard to take the time and effort to carefully observe and analyze the situation, to get down into the weeds to learn its intricate details, to step back to see the full picture, and then to create a sound strategy to improve that situation.
It's hard to execute the above sound strategy, even if it's just you doing the work. One might think convincing others is the difficult part. Not always. Often convincing yourself is job one, and once that is sold, then others will naturally tag along. Nobody wants to help you push your stalled car if you're not already outside pushing it yourself first.
It's hard to not procrastinate, to not join in on the fun and gain the approval of others when focus and discipline are necessary to steer the ship away from danger and toward our destination.
"If the general cannot control his temper and sends troops to swarm the walls, one third of them will be killed, and the city will still not be taken." Sun Tzu
(1) Know what you want to accomplish today
Don't let this important day go to waste by not thinking about what exactly must get done. You don't start driving without knowing your destination, so why should your life be any different? If it's a big project that might require multiple days to complete, then let today be a step in the right direction. In short, nothing gets done until you are aware there is a need.
(2) Know why you want to accomplish it today
Are you keeping busy, keeping up with the Jones, or are you making someone's day? Are you making miracles happen even without the help of divinity? Yet, God helps those who help themselves. Leadership begins with the self, and that provides sufficient reason and power to start and to finish.
(3) Set your integrity bar high
Set the bar high enough that it would even impress yourself if you meet it every day. But never at the expense of kindness, empathy, mercy. In short, this is professionalism. People assume selfishness is how the world works. What they fail to realize is that the world works despite selfishness. The world actually progresses when value is created, when people give more than they receive, that integrity produces trust which in turn produces untold efficiencies. Leadership isn't simply taking the tougher path but also taking the path that unlocks the most benefit.
(4) Tired? Good because you're just getting started
Unless you've just come home from the gulag, you can do more. Limits are set not physically but emotionally, and through everyday habit and comfort. Let work be our badge of honor because work is what makes us useful to everyone around us. In short, work is what keeps us alive. Leadership brought about mentally can incredibly unleash physical energy to get things done.
(5) Evaluate yourself by asking: Am I helping or am I hurting this situation?
People often act irrationally because they are irrational, not because they are cognizant of their behavior, much less aware of the consequences of their actions. By stepping back and evaluating yourself, you become more aware of what is happening around you, how you are affecting others, what you are trying to accomplish, and thus what you must correct in order to produce the results you seek. If you're not helping to make the situation better, you must rethink your conduct.
"The leader who does not advance to seek glory, or does not withdraw to avoid punishment, but cares for only the people's security and promotes the people's interests, is the nation's treasure." Sun Tzu
You might notice the five tips above revolve around the self. Leaders can't move thousands of people to a better place if they can't even lead themselves to a better place. Leadership, like charity, starts at home. Treat yourself better not by making it easier but by making yourself stronger and more capable, which means treating yourself sternly yet kindly. Treat your family and friends better not by telling them what to do but by actually allowing them to be better, which sometimes means standing by (for safety's sake) in teachable moments. Then, and only then, can you hope to be a leader to many, who inevitably can have interests opposite from yours.
"Mix the captured chariots with our own and treat the captured soldiers well." Sun Tzu