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How To Become a Great Leader

Photo by Markus Spiske

This article was based on episode 048 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

What sets great leaders and high performers apart from everyone else?

According to Rob Shallenberger, one of the world's leading authorities on leadership, planning, and execution, there is a common denominator of success amongst the very best in the world. Actually, it’s a combination of 12 principles which, when applied together, unleash greatness.

Rob’s father, Steve Shallenberger, researched high performers across fields and distilled his findings into The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders:

1. Strength of Character

2. Lead with Vision

3. Plan from Roles and Roles

4. Prioritize Your Time

5. Kindness

6. Build Trust

7. Be an Effective Communicator

8. Innovative Through Imagination

9. Accountability

10. Knowledge

11. Peace and balance

12. Persistence

On Episode 48 of The Modern Manager, Rob shares two of the 12 principles which are critical for effective managers.


The principles can have a huge impact on your leadership ability, but also on your relationships, personal life, health, and happiness.

Principle 2: Lead with Vision.

We often acknowledge that vision is important, yet few individuals or teams have a written vision statement that provides direction. The most successful leaders ensure the team shares a clear and compelling vision. In addition, they have a personal vision which guides their life and they encourage each team member to craft a personal mission. As a manager, knowing your team members’ personal vision allows you to help guide their career, personal and professional development in ways that align with their vision.

Principle 4: Prioritize Your Time

This may be one of the most universal struggles of contemporary work life: how to prioritize your time so you can focus on what matters most. The non-important things always seem to be pulling at us, yet the important things seem to get lost in the daily chaos. But we can’t make progress towards our vision or goals if we never make time for them.

Rob suggests a pre-week planning process which he claims (and I agree) is a game changer no matter what your role. This process includes reviewing your vision and goals, reflecting on your role (e.g. parent, spouse, manager, friend, athlete, self, et.) and brainstorming actions that matter for each one. Then, schedule these onto your calendar for the week. This 20-30 minute process which ideally happens between Friday afternoon and Sunday night ensures your calendar (how you spend your time) aligns with your priorities.

Regardless of whether you prefer paper or digital tools, Rob encourages everyone to do the brainstorm on paper. Then, if you use digital tools, transfer the relevant information to the digital tools. He explains that research has shown writing will unlock parts of the brain that otherwise would stay dormant.

To help you develop the habit pre-week planning, set two alarms or reminders at times you’ll likely be in a good position to complete the pre-week planning. While no special tools are required, for those of you who like tools, check out Rob’s Becoming Your Best Planner which guides you through the process.


Rob recommends reading Becoming Your Best with your team so you can collectively practice one principle per month for a year. He says,

“The success of a team is only a reflection of their leader. If a leader tries to do it alone, it's not going to happen. That's why there are certain things that leaders and managers can do that are very predictable of successful outcomes. It's just a matter of making the effort to do it, and knowing how to do it so a person doesn't feel like they have to reinvent the wheel.”

Thanks to Rob and his father, you’ve got the roadmap. Now it’s up to you to take action on it.

Join the Modern Manager community on Patreon and get 30% off the Becoming Your Best Planner plus episode guides and additional guest bonuses, to support your journey to rockstar manager.

This article was based on episode 046 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


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