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21 Things You’ll Never Regret as a Leader

If you’ve led anything for any length of time, you already have some regrets.

You wish you could get back some situations, redo some moments and, in some cases, start over again.

Why is that? If you look for common threads, you’ll often discover the problem was not in the situation, it was in how you responded to it.

Put another way, it was who you were when the hammer dropped.

But you can also look back on other situations and see you handled things well. That you really have no regrets.

Challenges come and challenges go in leadership. The difference between great leaders and poor leaders is often how their character responds to crisis.

Great leaders adopt practices, attitudes and positions that they quite simply never regret.

And that’s the key: There are some things you do as a leader that you’ll just never regret.

While I haven’t gotten every situation right in leadership (far from it), I took some time to make a list of 22 things I’ve never regretted doing as a leader. My guess is when you’ve done them, you’ve never regretted them either.

And if you and I keep doing them, we’ll have far fewer regrets moving forward.

21 Things You’ll Never Regret

1. Throwing your heart into whatever you do

I’m increasingly convinced that a white hot sense of passion is one ingredient in churches and other organizations that are doing an outstanding job these days.

Far too many leaders are phoning it in. If that’s you, hang up.

Fully engaging the task before you with all your heart is one of the best shots you’ve got at making an impact.

2. Taking the high road

It’s easy to get pulled down into mud … arguing, jostling and getting caught up in cheap accusations that lead nowhere good.

Don’t.

Take the high road.

You know what that is.

Be kind. Don’t fight back. Prepare to be misunderstood. Forgive. Show grace.

The high road isn’t the easy road, but it’s the best road.

You simply never regret taking it.

3. Saying you’re sorry

It’s easy to apologize when you’re new or just starting out. Everyone expects you to make mistakes.

It’s harder when you’re the leader.

It’s hardest when you’re a successful leader who’s been leading a long time.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re above reproach. You’re not.

In fact, I think the leader should be the FIRST to apologize (I outlined why and how to apologize well here).

So apologize.

4. Praying for your team

You will never regret praying for your team.

Pray for them by name. Ask them what specifically you can pray for.

A leader who prays for his team is a leader worth following.

5. Pushing through your fears

It’s not that great leaders have no fears. Pathological people may have no fears, but otherwise we pretty much all face them.

Great leaders push through their fears.

In this post, I outlined 5 signs that fear is undermining your leadership.

6. Smiling more

You’ll never regret smiling more.

I know I look grumpy unless I remind myself to smile. I’m actually not grumpy most of the time … I just look that way.

So smile.

7. Saying an encouraging word

Very few people I know would say they are over-encouraged.

OK, no one I know has ever told me they’ve exceeded their lifetime dose of encouragement.

Encouragement costs you nothing as a leader but it means everything to the person you’re encouraging.

Think about that.

8. Saying thank you

Ditto with thank you.

When a leader starts acting entitled, followers lose heart.

Treat everyone—including staff—like they were volunteers. Thank them regularly and sincerely.

Even your staff have other options. They can quit. And if you fail to show gratitude, they will.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.