How to Be a Better Leader—Even If You Aren’t a Natural Born Leader

Leading a Meeting

A previous article on being a leader resulted in a lot of questions. Like this one from a loyal ETR reader, which gets to the heart of leadership itself: “Craig, I’m not a good leader—of meetings, teams, or anything. How do I become a good leader so I can lead effective meetings and move my team forward?”

Leadership is a learnable skill. If I—a relatively introverted, somewhat skeptical, and sometimes grumpy guy—can get better at it, then so can you.

My solution has been to lead from the front through vulnerability, communication, listening, patience, and mentoring.

At Early To Rise, my partners and I want our team members to work in an environment that allows them to flourish, to become better every day, and to be energized by the opportunity to make an impact. 

In other words, we care about them. Which is what you should do, too. Remember, these are your team members and you are all on the same side. Avoid being adversarial. Work on being supportive.

But let’s dig a little deeper. What would an effective GS&R meeting look like, run with care, support, and clear-cut communication at its core?

Early in the week, sit down with each team member on an individual basis for 20-30 minutes and have a conversation that goes something like this:

You: Hey, how’s it going? How was your weekend?

Them: Oh yeah, it was good. Unfortunately, little Johnny has a cold so I didn’t sleep well last night.

You: Oh, that’s a shame. Is there anything the team can do to help you through these next few days?

Them: Um, maybe Joe can help me with the big client project that’s due this week?

You: Got it. I’ll talk to Joe and we’ll figure something out. By the way, I want to thank you again for how you helped Sally last month when her Uncle passed away and she missed that one afternoon. You rock.

Them: Thanks!

You: OK, so let’s review your goals for last week. Looks like you wanted to do some client check-ins and get started on the copy for the new website. How did that go? Did you accomplish both?

Them: Yes to the check-ins, and almost to website copy. I just had a really crazy Thursday and got behind, and then I didn’t get the PowerPoint I needed from Sarah.

You: Ok. Did you give Sarah a call?

Them: No, but I emailed her.

You: Ok, that’s a good start, but remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and so when you need something with a deadline, you have to jump on the phone. I know it’s not fun, but that’s how the work gets done.

Them: Yeah, you’re right. 

You: Can you call her immediately after this meeting and get her to send the PowerPoint over before 3pm today?

Them: Yes, I will. 

You: Great. Do you need me to check in with you at 3pm?

Them: Nope, I got this! 

You: Cool. So what are your two major objectives for this week?

Them: I’m going to work on the event planning details for the retreat and follow up with my interview contacts about their testimonials.

You: Great, and do you need any help from the team with those?

Them: Yes, I need Joe to help with some of the paperwork for the event, and I need Amy to finish typing up my interview notes so I can get the testimonials on the web by Thursday.

You: Perfect. Have you communicated this to Joe and Amy?

Them: Umm, Joe knows, but I should follow up with Amy.

You: Great, so you’ll do that right after you get the web copy work done? 

Them: You bet.

You: Perfect. Okay, feeling good about this week?

Them: Yep.

You: Anything else I or the team can do to support you?

Them: Um, just cure my little one of his cold?

You: Haha, yes. I will invent a cure. Good idea! Oh, and one more thing. We have $500 in the monthly budget for staff training, so I wanted to see if there are any training sessions you’d like to attend, or books you think we should buy for the team.

Them: Yes, I’d love a copy of “The Perfect Day Formula.”

You: Great idea. I’ll get one for everybody on the team.

Them: Thanks!

You: No problem. Here’s to a great week!

Them: Yes!

Now repeat this process with every team member.

When you have these conversations in person, it allows you to engage in casual small talk and see how things are going outside of work. You might find that home life issues are causing stress, leading to bad days and lower productivity. Or, you might dig in and find something about how two people at work are not getting along.

Perhaps most importantly, you may learn that your expectations were not clearly communicated to your team members. This is often the case, and that means the problem begins with YOU and not them.

This care and support-centric GS&R approach is better for everyone—and is certainly preferable to top down commands where conversation is difficult if not impossible.

I urge you then, to have a cool conversation with your team members on a regular basis. Show you care. Ask how they’re doing. What they reveal will give you tremendous insight into their performance and attitude, as well as your own effectiveness as a leader.

Craig Ballantyne

If you want to double your income, work less, and become the ambitious millionaire you've always wanted to be... Craig Ballantyne is the coach who will help you do it. With more than 20-years of experience as an entrepreneur and five 7-figure businesses under his belt, he specializes in helping "struckling" entrepreneurs get out of the mud and build the business of their dreams. To see if you qualify for Craig's "Millionaire Coaching Program" send an email to with the subject line "Millionaire".