When I think about leadership, I am reminded of an axiom that inspired Nelson Mandela, who once said, “A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

For me, first and foremost, a leader has a vision and understands the “what” and “how” of achieving that vision. One true measure of leadership is to assess the way a team functions when the leader isn’t present.

Good leaders meet people where they are. They paint a compelling and inspiring picture of the future that makes others want to journey with them. A leader directs the way, creating an environment where one can take a risk and “fail forward.” In explanation, I present the following three principles of success that have inspired me:

  • Know your end game and believe in yourself. Know what you are trying to accomplish and why it’s important to you.
  • Focus on your development. Build skills that support your getting to your end game.
  • Fail forward, meaning learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Replicate what you do well and learn from what challenges you.

Reaching success—however you define it—is a personal journey, but be sure to enlist others along the way to help you reach your end game.