By Andy Bailey

What does the term “great leader” mean? There are many stereotypes that position the perfect leader as an older individual with grey hair and decades of wisdom, but the fact is that anyone can be an emerging leader. Leadership doesn’t discriminate by gender, race, age or status – only by effort.

As a CEO and business coach myself, I have experience working with many different types of leaders, and I agree that the title of “great leader” isn’t some end goal or box you can check off at the end of a long, hard journey. That being said, I believe that great leaders do, in fact, exist because I’ve seen them in action.

And the traits that all great leaders share? They’re specific. These leaders recognize that ideas like “strive for success” and “never give up” are nice sentiments, but are often too general to inspire any real progress in themselves or those they work with. These successful leaders live completely in specific mindsets and practice diligent prioritization that doesn’t just prepare them for next quarter, but for the next decade.

Ready to start on your own path to great leadership? Here  are three steps to change your thinking, stay focused and achieve greatness.

Stay Humble and Hungry

Let’s be honest, humility often gets a bad rapport. After all, who wants to think of themselves as below others? And how will that help you get ahead in business? Humility, in its truest form, isn’t thinking less of yourself, but instead thinking of yourself less. Did you catch that? It’s imperative that leaders take the focus off of themselves and place it on the goal – doing whatever it takes to reach it, which usually involves sourcing the knowledge and talents of others in the process. Great leaders know that they don’t have all of the answers and must rely on the strengths of others to ultimately land at the most successful solution.

Beat Yesterday

Emerging leaders and long-time leaders alike often put immense pressure on themselves to constantly be performing at the highest level. More wins, more sales, more promotions, more success. While great leaders should always stay committed to the path ahead, there is a chief aim that many miss. If you’re only basing your success on outside factors (sales, revenue, promotions), you’re on the fast track to burn out. However, there is always someone you can beat – the person you were yesterday. Instead of asking yourself to “make 20 sales calls per week” try telling yourself to “make 1 more call than I did yesterday.” By practicing this mindset of beating yesterday’s self, you have a goal and a purpose driving each decision of your day, allowing success to continue to build over time.

Work Smarter

Common hazards of the workplace – like endless meetings, disagreements, petty office politics and unimportant time-sucking tasks – can be difficult to navigate and make leading and succeeding even harder to accomplish. Don’t get stuck in the mindset that there’s no way around them, because with a bit of innovation, there probably is. Bogged down with team schedules and needs? Try implementing a morning “huddle,” a meeting where each team member reviews their schedule for the day and has the opportunity to bring up any pain points. Find yourself losing focus on your most important tasks because you are dealing with day-to-day details? Redefine your role. Broach the subject of hiring an administrative assistant to handle the details or begin to share high-level responsibility and ownership with other team members that you trust.

With a bit of humility, perseverance, innovation and a relentless focus on the road ahead, you can become a leader strong enough to embark down the path of true success.

Andy Bailey is the author of No Try Only Do: Building a Business on Purpose, Alignment, and Accountability. He is CEO and head coach with business coaching firm Petra Coach and serves in an advisory role on the Gazelles Council, the leaders of the Scale Up movement. Visit his blog at http://www.petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight.

Leader stock photo by g-stockstudio/Shutterstock