The most effective leaders understand that leadership is more than just giving orders and dictating how things should be done. It’s about understanding the unique needs of everyone in your company (or department) and finding a way to lead in a fair and compassionate manner.

For years, we in the trades have modeled our leadership styles by methods that might now be considered “old school.” Those methods may have worked once, but they simply do not represent the “abundance mindset” that is necessary to be an effective leader in today’s workforce. As a young plumbing business owner, I remember yelling at my techs, using intimidation techniques and feeling like I had to act superior to gain (or keep) any respect at all. This was all a lie, and now after three decades in the home services industry, I’m honored to be able to share my past “mistakes” with others to help you create your own shortcuts to your desired goals.

When it comes to developing leadership skills, self-reflection is a crucial component. By reflecting on how you come across to others and what choices you make as a leader, you can start to refine and hone your abilities. Without proper reflection, it's easy to become stuck in bad habits or unknowingly do things that repel followers. Committing to yourself as a leader should involve looking inwardly and examining the results of your decisions and behavior. You need this awareness to ensure your success as a leader and offer genuine solutions rather than just blaming or making excuses. With honest self-reflection, we can take our leadership to the next level steadily and confidently.

Successful leadership isn't something you can learn overnight; it's an ongoing process. Here are ten secrets of successful leadership that will help you become a rockstar boss without sacrificing your humanity.

No. 1: Demonstrate respect

Always treat those around you with respect, no matter their role or position within the organization. Remember that everyone has something valuable to offer, even if it doesn’t appear at first glance. The parts runner is just as important as the salesperson when it comes to accomplishing sales goals.

No. 2: Communicate effectively

Communication is one of the most important aspects of leadership. Make sure your team knows what their expectations are and how they’re performing at all times. Consistent training, coaching, and scheduled meetings are crucial to avoid communication blocks in the business.

No. 3: Encourage collaboration

Effective leaders understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork in achieving success. Foster an environment where everyone can contribute their ideas, opinions, and knowledge to help move the organization forward. In my career, I’ve received some of my best ideas from brand-new apprentices or team members who came from outside the industry.

No. 4: Build trust

Leaders need to be able to trust their teams if they want them to succeed. This includes creating a safe space for team members to speak up about any issues or concerns without fear of retribution or judgment. This takes commitment, consistency, and time.

No. 5: Listen carefully

Listening is an essential leadership skill that allows you to better understand your team’s needs and concerns. Take the time to hear out everyone on your team, and be sure to ask questions when appropriate. Don’t get caught up just listening for what you want to hear.

No. 6: Embrace failures

Every leader will make mistakes; it’s how you handle them that matters. Learn from your mistakes and encourage others to do the same by providing constructive criticism and guidance rather than punishing those who fail. My personal belief is there is no such thing as failure anyway. You’re either winning or learning!

No. 7: Stay open-minded

As a leader, it’s important to stay open-minded and never assume that you know everything there is to know about leadership or running a business. Be willing to learn from others, embrace new ideas, and find ways to improve yourself as a leader. Constant and never-ending improvement.

No. 8: Promote innovation

Successful leaders are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to improve their team’s performance. Encourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to stay ahead as you become a category of one in your marketplace. However, don’t innovate just for the sake of innovation. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

Succeeding as a leader is about more than just barking orders and expecting people to follow them. It is necessary for any successful leader to be able to motivate their team, think strategically, understand their team members’ unique skill sets, and cultivate an overall positive attitude.

No. 9: Lead by Example

As a leader, it’s important to lead by example and show your team that you are dedicated to achieving the same goals as them. Demonstrate the values and behaviors you want to see in others and make sure everyone is working together towards a common goal. If training starts at 7 a.m., be on time. Do what you ask from others, even if you’re the owner.

No. 10: Have fun

Great leadership isn’t all about work; it’s also about having fun! I also believe work is synonymous with fun. Leaders should be able to enjoy their job while still maintaining a professional atmosphere. Find ways to motivate your team and celebrate successes together so that everyone can look back on their experience with pride. As humans, we desire progress more than anything else, have fun as you all learn and progress together.

The most meaningful and rewarding aspect of leadership is how it allows us to weave our personal purpose into the lives of others. As leaders, we have the power to inspire, motivate and create meaningful connections within any group of people, which allows for our own ambitions to become a reality within a collective context. However, as leaders, we must remember to align both our professional obligations and our personal aspirations — refusing to treat them as two distinct entities. Our work life and our personal life are seamlessly connected; there is no distinction between them: only one life that can be fully embraced for all that it can provide. This unity encourages a more holistic approach necessary for success in both areas, resulting in an awesome experience.

By following these ten secrets of successful leadership, you can become an effective boss without losing your humanity. With a combination of firm leadership, respect for those around you, and a willingness to embrace new ideas, you can become the rockstar boss your team deserves.

The leadership journey is not without its challenges, but with dedication and perseverance, it can be immensely rewarding. Succeeding as a leader is about more than just barking orders and expecting people to follow them. It is necessary for any successful leader to be able to motivate their team, think strategically, understand their team member’s unique skill sets, and cultivate an overall positive attitude. A successful leader has the vision to create a plan of action that makes sense for the whole group and elicit group buy-in by communicating and motivating everyone in a way that resonates with everyone.

Accomplished leaders are those who recognize areas of success and weakness, provide guidance when necessary, and aren’t afraid to take risks when they believe it would better the organization. With these ten secrets of successful leadership in mind, you can be sure to lead with your own humanity so that everyone around you can thrive. Enjoy the process!