5 qualities that will make you an awesome leader


“Leadership is not a title. Leadership is not a position. Leadership is not authority. Leadership is influencing or inspiring the life of another.”

Adam H. White (Leadership Expert and Success Coach)


There are common characteristics of leaders such as courage, having a vision, being authoritative (taking charge), and getting things done.

Being a leader in today’s world means stepping beyond managing people and achieving the goals of your community, business or organization.

In the September 2000 edition of the Harvard Business Review, Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones wrote a widely acclaimed article titled “Why should anyone be led by you?”

This is a great question to ask yourself if you’re in a leadership position or want to be a leader.

5 Uncommon Qualities of an Awesome Leader

Awesome leaders have uncommon characteristics that make them stand out among their peers.

They are more respected and able to create significant positive change. They can achieve big goals and also motivate people to follow them.

These are important factors in today’s world and today’s article looks at 5 qualities that make these leaders unique.

#1: They selectively reveal a few of their weaknesses

Being a great leader means being able to influence people. One of the easiest ways to do this is to show them that you’re human. Knowing and publicly admitting a weakness creates trust and makes you more approachable.

Take care though not to reveal your flaws as this will be counterproductive. Also keep your revelations to a minimal so that you don’t come across as being incapable of leading.

A good way to get the best mileage from your weaknesses is to turn them into strengths. Your followers will empathize with such weaknesses and relate to you better.

For example, having poor money management skills is a flaw that will work against you when revealed. So will revealing that you can’t sleep without the help of alcohol. In contrast, nervousness when speaking in public is authentic and more positive.

#2: They share what they know

Rising to the level of a leader is a process that is rich with experiences.

Great leaders are not mean with knowledge. They share their wisdom with their peers and the people they lead. They do this through writing, telling stories about their journey, teaching and mentoring.

It’s worth noting that all good leaders take time to mentor upcoming leaders and those with potential for leadership. In this way, they create more leaders for the future.

#3: They are unique and different

One thing you’ll notice about these leaders is that they stand out even when they’re in a crowd of other leaders.

While they do interact closely with their followers, they still manage to maintain some level of distance. Followers are allowed in to a certain level and no more.

Another aspect of their uniqueness is that they have amazing self-discipline and the ability to pursue their own personal development. They set a high bar for themselves and have clear personal and professional values that they live up to each day.

Finally, while they do mingle with their followers, it’s not easy for the followers to really get to know them. They have strong boundaries and very few people are allowed into their inner circle. This creates an element of mystery around them that intrigues and attracts followers.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, or to become more than you are a Leader.” John Quincy Adams

#4: They are highly intuitive

While they may not openly admit it, great leaders rely a lot on their intuition. They have an inner sense of identifying what’s going on, and are able to follow this sense when making decisions.

Care should however be taken not to misinterpret information based on your personal experiences and biases. It takes time to hone your intuition to an art.

If you’re starting out as a leader, back your intuition with data or references so that you make objective decisions. You can also get a second opinion from a trusted member of your team, your mentor, or an advisor.

Awesome leaders achieve big goals and also motivate people to follow them. Click To Tweet

#5: They care…but in a tough way

True leaders really care about their followers. But, they’re able to temper their caring with toughness when need be.

They’re also able to pull away from their followers and allow the followers to work on their own. The leader guides, but they don’t pull people up or force them to perform.

This may sometimes seem harsh, but it’s the only way that everyone in the team can take responsibility for their own role.

On the other hand, a great leader doesn’t take personal credit for success. They take responsibility for all team failures, but share credit for success with the team.

Final Words

Being a true leader goes beyond having a strong vision, being confident, and having the courage to go for what you want. It includes being able to have people want to follow you or work with you willingly.

This form of leadership is not easy to achieve.  It takes time, practice, and commitment to become an awesome leader, but the results are more fulfilling because you end up doing what you do best – lead your team or group to success.

These 5 qualities are not limited to leaders. You can start implementing them in your life, business or profession today if you aspire to move into a leadership role.

With time, you’ll find yourself thinking and acting like a leader. And it won’t be long before you’ll be noticed and moved into a leadership position.

Change starts in you, become an awesome leader today!

Over to you now…

What do you think of these 5 qualities of awesome leaders?

Is there a particular quality that you could easily incorporate this week?

Drop a Comment below and let us know what you’ll be changing.

(Image credit sumetho at FreeDigitalPhotos)


Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at New Dawn Solutions. She helps brilliant professional and business women become more successful while working less. Her clients are able to reduce stress, overwhelm, and burnout and achieve goals they had given up on. You can contact Caroline to request for a complimentary Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results .

5 steps to overcome failure and bounce back

overcome failure

Many people find it hard to overcome failure. Their confidence goes down and they lose motivation to go on.

Professional or business failure can also make you lose faith in your ability to perform optimally at work or in your business. Poor performance can in turn lead to more failure or loss.

What can you do to overcome failure, especially if you’ve never failed before? How can you turn around and get back on track after all your efforts go down the drain? Where do you start? How do you handle the public shame and possible humiliation that comes with failure?

Do you:

  • blame yourself or others?
  • throw in the towel and give up?
  • throw all your plans into the bin and start over again?
  • set smaller goals so that you’re sure of hitting them?
  • re-strategize, create a new plan, and move on as if the failure never happened?

What do you do?

My recent epic failure

I’ve just experienced a failure that would have brought me down before.

I had created a workshop and my team and I marketed it widely online and offline. We were sure of having a huge breakthrough with the workshop.

As we got closer to the registration deadline with no sign ups, we increased our efforts and connected 1-1 with almost 2,000 people whom we knew would benefit from the workshop.

I sat up past midnight on the registration deadline day, waiting for money to come into the MPESA line. We had received many verbal commitments so I knew that in our peculiar Kenyan style, there would be last-minute registrations.

Then the phone chimed at 11:58pm…one sale…and nothing else…

A few years ago, this kind of result would have driven me off track for at least a week. I would have taken the failure personally and hidden away from the world.

I would also have blamed myself, the team, the people who promised to sign up, the weather, economy, politics, God…everyone and everything I could think of.

I’d have ranted to my family and friends and gone totally off-tangent. Thankfully, I’m past that and it’s now getting easier to handle failure using the process outlined below.

A 5 Step Process to Overcome Failure

Step 1: De-Stress

Start by allowing yourself time to grieve. Don’t try to make sense of the failure at this time or try to find ways to overcome it.

This step is critical because it forms the foundation for the remaining steps.

I normally give myself a time limit to wallow over business and professional failures. In this case, I gave myself a day and spent all of Saturday totally emotional about the loss. By Saturday evening, I was ready to move to Step 2.

I adapted this tactic from Dan Shula, who was the most celebrated coach in the American NFL. Dan had a 24-hour rule for celebrating success or failure. He allowed his team only 24 hours to celebrate a win or brood over a loss. After 24 hours, they’d get back to work as usual.

This rule is working well for losses in my case. However, I’m yet to implement it effectively with wins…celebrations tend to go on for a while.

Step 2: Acceptance

Accept that you have failed. It doesn’t matter how it happened, what happened, or who was responsible. Just accept that it has happened and take responsibility for your part in this event.

Also accept that failure is part of life. The road to success is paved with failure. If you have big goals and dreams, then you’re going to get up close and personal with failure along the way.

Finally, accept that it’s your responsibility to get yourself out of this mess, if the failure created a mess. Even when you’re part of a team, you have the responsibility for your role in the team.

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

Step 3: Evaluation

Take a step back and look at the situation objectively. Analyze it carefully without negative feelings or emotions. Ask yourself:

  • What did I do to bring about this failure?
  • Is there something I could have done, but didn’t do?
  • Is there something I could have done differently?
  • Were there important steps that I missed out?
  • Was the failure within or outside my control? (e.g. weather, politics, a sudden economic downturn – no excuses though)
  • Did I prepare adequately?
  • How many times have I had this kind of failure in the past and what did I learn then?

Write the analysis in your journal so that you have something to come back to in the future. Having a journal has helped me avoid repeating some mistakes.

If you were working as a team, it’s important that you do the evaluation together – without apportioning blame. If the situation is volatile within the team, invite an objective person to guide the evaluation.

“If you’re going to live a life worth living, you are going to see setbacks. So make it a must to deal with setbacks.” Dr. Cathy Collautt on Marie Foleo TV.

Step 4: Map The Way Forward

Your evaluation will show whether this is a failure that can be sorted out or not. Let go of the goal and move on if the failure cannot be sorted out.

Map a new way forward with new and realistic SMART goals if this is something that can be fixed. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will give you somewhere to start from.

If you were working as a team, have all members of the team contribute to the way forward, even if they won’t be involved in implementing the new plan. You’ll be amazed at the insights people give when they aren’t involved in implementation.

Step 5: Take Action

A plan is only as good as the actions taken to implement it. Once you have a solid plan, start taking action immediately.

Begin with small actions and update your plan as you get new results and information. Include regular checks in your action plan.

Break your plan into monthly and weekly sub-goals. Then break the weekly goals into daily to-do’s. Evaluate your weekly and monthly results before planning for the next week or month.

This simple action plan will keep you focused and on top of your goal at all times. It will also help you identify and rectify mistakes in time so that you reduce chances of failing.

And if you do fail again, go back to Step 1 and complete this process once again. With time, you’ll notice that your successes are increasing while failures reduce.

'In order to succeed, your desire for success must be greater than your fear of failure.' Bill Cosby Click To Tweet


Our education system has turned failure into a bad word. We’ve learnt to celebrate success and try to hide failure as much as we can.

However, failure is an part of growth and you will encounter it more often than you expect. In order to succeed in business or life, you need to embrace failure, and learn from it.

This 5-step process to overcome failure has helped me bounce back fast and move on. It’s also helped me become a better planner and achieve some goals way ahead of their time.

Over to you now…

How have you overcome failure in the past?

Please share what happened and how you were able to get out of it in the Comments section below.

(Image credit Unsplash)


Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at New Dawn Solutions. She helps brilliant professional and business women become more successful while working less. Her clients are able to reduce stress, overwhelm, and burnout and achieve goals they had given up on. You can contact Caroline to request for a complimentary Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results .

5 steps to get unstuck and live your dream life

 Get Unstuck

A common complaint I hear from professional and business women is that they’re stuck. They know what they want and have a good idea of what it takes to achieve their desires, but keep getting stuck as they pursue some of their goals.

What I find interesting in these scenarios is the fact that these women are high achievers. They’ve reached levels of success they never thought that they could reach. They’re able to overcome a lot of challenges when growing their careers or businesses. But they fail to do the same when it comes to other goals, especially personal goals.

How then, can you overcome your challenges and move forward? How can you get unstuck?

In this article, I’ll explore 5 steps I take my clients through to help them get unstuck and start living a balanced, happier, and more fulfilled life. I call this the Break Free process because it will help you break free from self-imposed limitations.

5 Steps to Get Unstuck and Start Living Your Dream Life

Step 1: Prepare for Freedom

Success starts with careful preparation. You’re not setting goals at this point. You’re simply evaluating where you are at today and identifying why you want to make changes in your life.

Self-evaluation is a critical aspect of any change process because it helps you see what you’re doing well, what you need to stop doing, and what you need to tweak a bit. You also get to map out your milestones in life.

It’s very important that you get used to regular self-evaluation so that you start living your life in a deliberate manner. Many people don’t take the time to evaluate their lives and keep moving from one goal to another.

“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years.” 

Anthony Robbins (Author, Life Coach, and Motivational Speaker)

Step 2: Unlock the Power of Visioning

In The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey notes that many people work hard to climb the success ladder, only to reach the top and find that the ladder was leaning on the wrong wall.

One way to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you is to create a Vision of the life you want. This is not a vision of you having achieved your goals, but rather, a clear image of how you want to live your life. Your goals are simply one of the ways for achieving this vision.

For example, if you want to start a business, then identify what it is that this business will help you achieve in your life. This vision will encompass all core areas of life, such as spirituality, relationships, finances, values, health, giving, and any other areas that you consider important.

Your vision should answer the question WHY:

  • Why do you want to change?
  • Why do you want to change now?
  • What makes this change so important to you?

Success expert Brain Tracy recommends that you come up with a list of at least 50 reasons why you want to change. The more the reasons you come up with, the more likely it is that you will work on your goals even when you have setbacks.

Finally, it’s possible to set goals that conflict because they require you to move in different directions. For example, say you want to get a promotion while at the same time having a goal to spend more time with your family.

Working towards the promotion may require you to go back to school in the evenings and work extra hours on weekends. In essence, this goal will take you away from the goal of spending time with your family.

Having a clear vision for your life will help you identify such conflicts and create a balance between your goals. The vision is your roadmap and your guiding light at all times.

Escape Sign Represents Get Away And Arrows by Stuart Miles

Step 3: Get Direction

Think of your goal setting and achievement process as a journey. Before you embark on a journey, you must prepare for it. You don’t just wake up and start moving without knowing where you’re going.

Your direction is set when you have SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Interestingly, many people are able to set and achieve SMART goals at work, but not for their personal life.

In my coaching, I add a second level of SMART which is: Simple, Meaningful, As if, ecologically Responsible, and Towards what you want. This level of SMART is based on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and it helps you solidify the goal strongly in your mind.

With the second level of SMART, your goal is:

  • Specific and Simple
  • Measurable and Meaningful
  • Achievable and As if you’ve already achieved it
  • Realistic and ecologically Responsible
  • Time-bound and Towards what you want

SMART goal setting is a wide topic that is beyond the scope of today’s article. I’ve created a worksheet to help you use these two levels of SMART on your own. You can download the worksheet from the link below:

SMART Goal-Setting worksheet

As you set your SMART goals, also identify skills that you may need to learn or improve to achieve mastery in your goals.

Step 4: Get Out of Your Own Way

One thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that most of the reasons why they’re not happy or fulfilled are internal. Some experts have estimated that over 80% of our obstacles are internal and only about 20% are outside our minds.

What does this mean?

It’s simply pointing to the fact that we knowingly or unknowingly create situations that make us not achieve our dream lives. You could be working hard and doing a lot of things to change your life, but there’s something that keeps you stuck.

This happens because of fears, doubts, and self-limiting beliefs that work against your efforts. These psychological factors are learnt as we grow up and they can have a very strong hold on someone’s ability to change their life for the better.

The first thing you need to do is be aware that these factors are there in your life. Awareness will help you shed light on these challenges and start working on releasing them.

Sometimes this step alone is all you need. However, it requires patience, persistence, and determination because it’s not an easy process and you will come up against aspects of yourself that can be scary.

An easy way to let go of self-limiting beliefs and behaviours is to have someone support you through the process.

Step 5: Create Your Own Happiness

Happiness is a choice. It comes from within and doesn’t depend on your circumstances or other people’s actions or opinions.

Similarly, no one can make you unhappy, but you can allow the things people say or do to affect your mood in a positive or negative way.

One of the main reasons why people are unhappy is because they try to please everyone around them. People pleasers lead a hard life because they’re pulled in different directions as they try to impress other people or seek their approval.

No one can make you unhappy, but you can allow people to affect your mood positively or negatively. Click To Tweet

It’s also hard to be happy when you don’t have strong boundaries, especially in your relationships and at work. Boundaries help you have some level of control over your life because you decide what is important to you and what’s not.

People with strong boundaries rarely allow others to dictate how they should live or act. They know what they want and go for it to the best of their ability.

Establishing your boundaries will mean evaluating and possibly revamping your environment. This includes (among other things):

  • starting to hang out with people who empower and motivate you.
  • clearing clutter (in your home, car, office, desks, etc).
  • being careful about the information you allow into your mind (movies, social media, music, TV programs, news, the internet, etc).
  • hanging out in places where you’re naturally at your best.

Happiness is not a goal that you can seek on its own, but you can achieve it in the process of working on the things that matter to you. In order to do this, you will need to re-create yourself anew and become the powerful person that you haven’t allowed yourself to be.

When you create a new you, you will be more Confident, Courageous, and be in Control of your life. These 3 characteristics will help you get unstuck now and in the future.

Empty Interior Blue Room A Keyhole by sumetho


This article outlines 5 steps you can use to get unstuck and start living your dream life. These steps are:

  1. Prepare for freedom.
  2. Unlock the power of visioning.
  3. Get direction
  4. Get out of your own way.
  5. Create your own happiness.

Steps 1-3 are easy to do and anyone can complete them on their own. In fact, when you complete the SMART Goal-Setting Worksheet, you’ll already be halfway through this process.

But, this first half is the easy one. These second half of the process (steps 4 & 5) are where people get stuck.

Steps 4 & 5 can take years or decades to complete if you don’t get the right tools, resources, and support. They are harder to work through on your own and you need someone or a group of people to support and hold you accountable.

Working with a coach, attending a personal development class, having an accountability partner, or joining a mastermind group are ways in which you can have the support and accountability you need.

Happiness is a choice. It doesn’t depend on your circumstances or other people’s actions or opinions. Click To Tweet

Your Next Step

Getting unstuck is easy when you have the right kind of help. Are you willing to take that step of faith and have a new and more fulfilling life within the next 6-12 months?

If you are, then I invite you to sign up for the next Free To Be Me group coaching program. I designed this program specifically for professional and business women and have offered it to individuals since 2012.

The program goes deeper into the 5 steps outlined in this article. You will work together with 10 women in your group and make new friends along the way.

The program is available in two formats: virtually via teleconferencing and physically if you’re based in Mombasa.

The 5 steps outlined in this article form the core of the Free To Be Me coaching program. If you’d like to get unstuck and start living your life your way, sign up for the next Free To Be Me group.

Click here to be notified when the next group program opens up.

You can also contact me on info@newdawnsolutions.net or call 0703-119-241 if you’d like to work with me 1-1 for a more personalized program that is tailor-made for you.


(Images courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net)


Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at New Dawn Solutions. She helps brilliant professional and business women become more successful while reducing the time they spend working. She is the author of 12 Weeks to Startup: How to Turn Your Skills, Talents, Knowledge and Experiences Into a Business, which is a self-coaching manual that helps professionals start businesses while still working.