3 Distinctions All Leaders Must Remember

Larry Olsen June 16, 2021

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou


Everyone is a Leader

The best leaders bring out the best in others. When I use the term “leaders,” I mean that in the broadest possible sense. Even if you have no one reporting to you, or if you do not technically “lead” anyone else, you’re still a leader, because you are leading yourself. By doing so unselfishly, the model you create automatically brings about positive change in others.


  1. Treat Everyone with Respect

A key element of leadership is treating everyone, no matter what their position, equally. People notice if you have favorites or otherwise treat people differently.

No one wants to feel left out. Leaders should avoid seeking recognition for something a team, department, or other group is involved with. This means giving up the need to receive credit for successes. It can be difficult, because we’re conditioned to believe that the person who gets the credit wins – and that’s simply not true.

The best leaders don’t need outside recognition to build their self-esteem; they know in their hearts what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved. That’s how leaders build self-esteem – from the inside out, and not from the outside in. Of course, you must recognize your successes within yourself. You should celebrate by doing whatever you need to recognize your victories, but always do it on your own time!


  1. Work Should Be Inspiring, Not Perspiring

Leaders are a key factor in differentiating between inspiration and perspiration. Great leaders build up their people, knowing that the resulting synergies will cause an organization to soar to greater heights.

These leaders must deflect personal recognition away from themselves and turn it toward others. This is always difficult, because we would rather be right than be successful and most want recognition from others. True leaders rely on their internal beliefs and values to achieve prosperity. They don’t rely on others for recognition. When a leader builds up others, recognition comes, no matter what.

The greatest leaders of all are servant leaders, creating environments for others to succeed. Personally, I’d rather have no recognition at all for helping someone succeed than be recognized while holding them back. How about you?


  1. Selling vs. Being Sold

Being a great leader means having to do many things, including selling. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. We are all in the sales business. We are all selling something. This could be our ideas, our products, and even our vision. The old axiom is true: People hate to be sold but love to buy.

As a leader, never sell anything to your people if you want buy-in. Get them excited, seek their input, and find out how they believe they will profit from reaching the organizational vision. Then you won’t have to sell them on it. They’ll be thrilled to buy in on their own terms.


Let’s put at least one of these reminders into action today. Which one of these three truths would make the greatest impact on your team, your associates, your members or even your family? Start by applying the principles today – of at least one – and you’ll begin to see the fruits of your labor right away and well into the next season.



Aperneo is an achievement acceleration company providing individuals and teams quick, actionable guidance on how to break ingrained, ineffective habits. The Aperneo approach to professional development balances common sense, practical neuroscience, and personal accountability, enabling clients to gain insights and perspectives to live, work, and engage with more success.

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