Develop Your Leadership: Practical Strategies for Any Leader

Karl Bimshas
7 min readMay 28, 2024
Develop Your Leadership: Practical Strategies for Any Leader by Karl Bimshas

Part of leadership is finding ways to create a highly productive, engaged, and effective team. That’s not ground-breaking news, yet it’s so often ignored in favor of shareholder value or the whims of a transactional top officer.

Here are ten practical strategies for leaders who care about managing better and leading well. Understanding and implementing these strategies will significantly enhance your effectiveness and your team’s leadership performance.

Each strategy has a brief justification for its importance and instructions for observing behaviors that support or detract from it, with green and red flag examples. There are also tips to help improve performance within that strategy. Finally, there is an assessment question to reflect on and record impressions on whether the behavior is positively exhibited.

Score each however you wish, or use (1 = Poorly, 2 = Erratically, 3 = Not Observed, 3 = Adequate, 4 = Consistently.) These questions help assess how well a leader is implementing each strategy and identify areas for improvement.

1. Clear Vision and Goal Setting

A clear vision and achievable goals provide direction, inspire the team, and measure progress toward success.

Observe: Look for a leader who communicates the vision, breaks it down into measurable goals, and inspires team members to contribute to achieving the vision.

✅ Green Flag: The leader has a clear and inspiring vision, sets achievable and measurable goals, and involves the team in goal setting to encourage ownership and engagement.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader has a vague vision that lacks direction, sets unrealistic or unachievable goals, and doesn’t involve the team in the goal-setting process.


  • Involve the team in goal setting to facilitate ownership and engagement, and regularly revisit and adjust goals as needed.
  • Establish short-term, achievable goals that provide quick wins and motivate the team.
  • Communicate the vision and immediate goals to align the team’s efforts and create a sense of purpose.

_____ Assessment: Does the leader have a clear and inspiring vision, and can they set and communicate achievable goals involving the team?

2. Effective Communication

A leader who communicates clearly and consistently keeps everyone informed, aligned, and motivated.

Observe: Look for leaders who actively listen, explain things concisely, and encourage open communication.

✅ Green Flag: The leader actively listens, asks clarifying questions, provides clear instructions, and keeps everyone informed through multiple channels.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader avoids giving clear instructions, talks excessively without listening, and fails to keep everyone informed.


  • Tailor communication styles to different audiences and use multiple channels (meetings, emails, etc.) for effective information flow.
  • Implement regular, transparent communication channels such as daily or weekly check-ins.
  • Encourage leaders to practice active listening immediately to understand better and resolve team issues quickly.

_____ Assessment: How well does the leader communicate, actively listen, and keep the team informed through multiple channels?

3. Leadership by Example

Leaders who embody the values and behaviors they expect inspire trust, commitment, and a sense of shared purpose.

Observe: Look for alignment between a leader’s words and actions, their willingness to go the extra mile, and their ethical conduct.

✅ Green Flag: The leader embodies the values and behaviors they expect, leads by example, and demonstrates integrity through their actions.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader sets a bad example through unethical behavior, doesn’t follow the same rules they expect from others, and lacks integrity.


  • Be transparent about your mistakes and learning process.
  • Start modeling desired behaviors immediately to set a quick and powerful example for the team.
  • Demonstrate integrity in your actions to quickly build trust and set a solid ethical tone for the team.

_____ Assessment: Does the leader embody the values and behaviors they expect from their team, and do they demonstrate integrity through their actions?

4. Emotional Intelligence

Understanding and managing one’s emotions and those of others enables better communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution.

Observe: See how well the leader handles stress, conveys empathy, and creates a safe environment for open communication.

✅ Green Flag: The leader manages stress effectively, shows empathy and understanding, and creates a psychologically safe environment for open communication.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader has frequent outbursts, lacks empathy for others, and creates a stressful and emotionally charged work environment.


  • Continuously develop your emotional intelligence through self-reflection, feedback from trusted advisors, and relevant training.
  • Encourage leaders to be more aware of their emotional responses and regulate them.
  • Train leaders to show empathy in their daily interactions.

_____ Assessment: How effectively does the leader manage their emotions, show empathy, and create a psychologically safe environment for the team?

5. Empowerment and Delegation

Trusting team members with ownership and responsibility facilitates growth, engagement, and a sense of accomplishment.

Observe: Observe if the leader assigns tasks that match strengths, provides clear expectations and resources, and allows autonomy in execution.

✅ Green Flag: The leader assigns tasks based on strengths, provides clear expectations and resources, and allows autonomy in completing tasks.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader micromanages tasks, assigns work outside someone’s skill set, and offers no support or autonomy.


  • Delegate tasks and decision-making authority and offer ongoing support and feedback.
  • Start delegating decision-making authority for specific tasks to capable team members.
  • Assign tasks based on individual strengths to see immediate improvements in task efficiency and job satisfaction.

_____ Assessment: Does the leader trust team members with ownership and responsibility, provide clear expectations, and allow autonomy?

6. Team Building

Solid collaborative teams achieve more and create a positive work environment.

Observe: See how the leader facilitates team bonding and collaboration.

✅ Green Flag: The leader facilitates team-building activities, encourages collaboration, and celebrates team wins, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader prioritizes individual performance over team collaboration, creates a competitive work environment, and does not foster team spirit.


  • Use team-building exercises that address specific needs or challenges and promote open communication and trust within the team.
  • Implement collaborative tools or processes encouraging teamwork, such as project management software or regular brainstorming sessions.

_____ Assessment: How well does the leader facilitate team bonding and collaboration, and do they celebrate team wins to foster camaraderie?

7. Recognition and Rewardsnbsp;

Recognizing achievements and rewarding good work celebrates success and boosts morale.

Observe: See if the leader acknowledges individual and team contributions, offers both public and private praise, and uses a variety of rewards (promotions, bonuses, etc.).

✅ Green Flag: The leader publicly acknowledges achievements, offers personalized praise and uses a variety of rewards (promotions, bonuses, etc.) to motivate performance.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader takes credit for team achievements, rarely offers praise, and has a one-size-fits-all reward system.


  • Personalize recognition to individual preferences and go beyond just monetary rewards.
  • Introduce a system for immediate recognition of employee achievements.
  • Implement small, immediate rewards for high performance, such as gift cards or public acknowledgment.

_____ Assessment: Does the leader acknowledge individual and team contributions, offer personalized praise, and use a variety of rewards to motivate performance?

8. Conflict Resolution

Effective conflict resolution minimizes disruption, encourages healthy debate, and leads to better solutions.

Observe: How does the leader handle disagreements? Do they seek common ground and use conflict as an opportunity for growth?

✅ Green Flag: The leader addresses disagreements constructively, focuses on finding common ground, and uses conflict as an opportunity for growth and better solutions.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader avoids conflict altogether, takes sides without understanding the issue, or uses an authoritarian approach to shut down disagreements.


  • Encourage open communication during conflict, actively listen to all perspectives, and help find solutions that benefit everyone.
  • Resolve any existing conflicts within the team immediately.
  • Provide immediate training or mediation to address ongoing disputes and find quick, mutually beneficial solutions.

_____ Assessment: How does the leader handle disagreements, and do they use conflict as an opportunity for growth and better solutions?

9. Customer Focus

Prioritizing customer needs enhances satisfaction, loyalty, and business success.

Observe: See if the leader gathers customer feedback, uses it to inform decision-making, and promotes a customer-first mentality.

✅ Green Flag: The leader actively seeks customer feedback, integrates it into decision-making, and promotes a customer-centric culture within the team.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader prioritizes short-term profits over customer satisfaction, ignores customer feedback, and doesn’t hold the team accountable for customer service.


  • Go beyond surveys and seek customer interactions to understand their needs and concerns.
  • Implement a customer feedback loop where customer insights are reviewed and acted upon immediately.
  • Make small but noticeable improvements based on customer feedback to show responsiveness and enhance customer relations.

_____ Assessment: Does the leader actively seek and integrate customer feedback into decision-making, promoting a customer-centric culture?

10. Adaptability and Flexibility

Adjusting to changing circumstances and embracing new ideas leads to innovation and long-term success.

Observe: Watch how leaders react to challenges and new information and see how open they are to course correction when necessary.

✅ Green Flag: The leader welcomes new information, embraces calculated risks for innovation, and adjusts to changing circumstances with a positive attitude.

🚩 Red Flag: The leader resists change, clings to outdated methods, and punishes those who suggest new ideas.


  • Encourage experimentation and embrace calculated risks to encourage innovation.
  • Encourage a flexible work environment where team members can quickly adapt to new priorities or changes.
  • Introduce a quick innovation challenge or idea-sharing session to generate fresh solutions to current problems.

_____ Assessment: How well does the leader react to challenges and new information, and are they open to adjusting to changing circumstances positively?

Action Plan

Pick three to five actions you deem important and can begin taking immediate action. You’ll be inclined you use your lowest-ranked strategies, which is natural, but be sure to include one or more of your strengths to keep it sharp.

Integrating these practical strategies into your leadership development will help to create a positive work environment, enhance team performance, and achieve long-term success. When acted upon quickly, these strategies will deliver tangible improvements in your leadership effectiveness and team dynamics.



Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.