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Business has never been this competitive. With many disruptive businesses coming out, there is a greater demand for relevance from most companies. A company that has been in existence for many years can find itself folding when an app is created to replace it. But most people forget that at the heart of any enterprise, no matter how big or small, is the entrepreneur who once took that leap of faith. As a saying goes, we find shelter from a tree today because someone had the foresight to plant it a year ago.

The secret to any successful company is not its culture, its bottom line, its cash flow, or its office space per se, but the person who is steering the ship while it’s at sea. Great leaders make great companies and never the other way around. They are the people that embody the whole mission and vision of the company which makes who they are -- from their decisions to how they understand processes.

But what makes a leader great? Here are some habits that people should emulate if they want to reach the big leagues in their own way:

1.       They really don’t sweat the small stuff.

Great leaders know that to win the war, they must never lose sight of the battle. Usually what boggles down most people are the little big things they need to accomplish on a daily basis such as dressing up, eating breakfast, deciding between reading emails or the paper or even watching the news. These seemingly insignificant matters can add up.

Leaders know this too well which explains why tech titans such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs have daily uniforms. Every minute counts for leaders which is why they rely on efficient repetition to get these little things out of the way. Some have the same breakfast every day or the same routine to ensure they get the right training or proper nutrition on the daily basis, without fail.

2.       They eat frogs for breakfast.

In a recent study, it was found out that most CEOs in the Fortune 500 are early risers, even getting up as early as 5 in the morning to get stuff done. However, it doesn’t mean that they work immediately, they just hit the ground running, for some quite literally so as they start their day working out.

Eating frogs in the morning or doing the most dreaded items in your to do list right off the bat is what makes leaders the focused and maniacally efficient machines that they are. This means that their energy is used on the items that need it most. Also, waking up early limits the chances of distraction, helping them zero in on tasks that provide the most output for them (aka the Pareto Principle).

3.       They never stop learning.

Leaders are readers, no ifs and buts about it. Leaders know that they are only as good as what they know, which means they always update and upgrade their skills set. Competition is fierce outside but what matters, for them, is what’s on the inside.

Learning through reading is also what makes them see the future and point out opportunities amidst the chaos as proven in forward-looking leaders such as Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Berkshire’s Warren Buffet.

4.       They consciously choose what matters.

Arianna Huffington had a rude awakening when she slipped in her bathroom and cut her face due to overfatigue brought about by lack of sleep. Today, she has sleeping pods not just for her but her employees at Huffington Post as well. She succinctly says that people must sleep their way to the top because tiring one’s self to the point of extreme exhaustion is not healthy and definitely not worth it.

Being reminded of what truly matters for one’s self – whether its rest, sports, family, or friends – is what makes great leaders good people and vice versa. It doesn’t only show on their key result areas but in the kind of life they lead as well.

5.       They reach out to others.

Leaders do not live in an enclosed shell. They go out there to help others, be it through philanthropic deeds or through mentoring. True leaders are also empathetic and they go out of their way to get to know the people who work for them. They want to understand how they feel, their aspirations, strengths, and challenges. Empathy helps leaders build trust, foster camaraderie, maximize the strengths of their staff.

Anyone Can Be a Leader

You do not need a title to become a leader. Whatever position you are in today, you can start on your journey towards becoming a leader by practicing the five habits above. Cultivate these habits one day at a time and watch yourself grow.

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