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The 2012 London Olympics had some amazing moments – highlighting the abilities of some of the world’s best athletes. Whether it was Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympic medalist ever or seeing Gabrielle Douglas crowned an Olympian champion, we can’t help but be inspired by the remarkable display of talent.

It’s no secret that athletes must put in the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears to be able to compete on the world’s stage. In addition, they need an endless supply of discipline and the willingness to make sacrifices.

Hmm, doesn’t sound too far off from those with aspirations to become leaders. Well, minus the blood part.

Whether you’re a first-time team lead or have held the CEO position for quite a while, leadership development is essential. Just as the Olympians undergo mind-boggling trainings to stay in tiptop shape, leaders must make development part of their core values, or they run the risk of falling behind.

Now there are many components to leadership development, but here are some tips to help you out. Think of it as a dose of mental nutrition.

Surround yourself with a great team
The success of your projects often depends upon how well your team works together and how well you provide team leadership. Do you facilitate a team atmosphere where all members feel comfortable offering ideas?

In addition to the strength of your team as a whole, the abilities of the individuals are of critical importance. You need to invest in growing talent where gaps exist or will develop. Successful leaders value cooperation and collaboration, and strive to make teamwork a core value in their work group’s culture.

When teamwork is a focus, the individual members will excel at sharing information and expertise, resolving differences, holding each other accountable for their deliverables, and recognizing and rewarding each other for a job well done.

Standards of performance
Effective leaders expect top performance and do not tolerate mediocrity. They have high expectations of the people around them, and have confidence that they will achieve the goals set forth. Make sure you are meeting your own performance expectations. When people see you working hard and meeting your expectations, they are more likely to use you as a role model. Identify the critical path to your desired results and then remove the obstacles that get in the way.

Do you maintain your enthusiasm and determination in difficult circumstances? Are you willing to stick with an idea if you are convinced it is the right direction, even if your ideas are in the minority? Capable leaders demonstrate an ability to persevere until they are successful. Leaders must serve as a role model for innovative thinking, and push others to take risks and support them in these endeavors.

Work to become tenacious when you encounter resistance to your new ideas, while at the same time listening to and respecting those who disagree with you. It’s important to be seen as a take-charge person who knows how to handle crises in a confident manner.

You may never actually be awarded a gold medal for leadership, but take some time to develop your leadership skills and your direct reports might view you as the gold standard.