John Eades: “8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others To Success”

Leadership today means something different than it did for previous generations. Thanks to technology, we live in a more transparent and communicative world, and employees are demanding more from their leaders. We recently had the opportunity to speak with John Eades to discuss leadership principles, how leaders get great performance and the importance of elevating others. John is the CEO of Learnloft, a virtual leadership development academy designed to “elevate the way you lead” and “increase the impact you have on your organization.” Learnloft exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. They also provide assessments, and online and in-person programs to develop leadership skills.

He is also the host of Follow My Lead Podcast, and the recent author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can learn more about John on his website,, or connect with him on Facebook. We learned a lot about elevating your leadership style, and how to build relationships with employees. We also discussed the five leadership styles outlined in Building the Best!

“A Shift to the People”

This shift set the tone for Mr. Eades’ book since technology has created more communication and transparency, forcing workplaces to put more focus on people rather than profit. Profit is still essential, of course, but there’s been a more concerted effort to invest in and develop our people because they are an organization’s most valuable asset. John reminded us that it is of utmost importance to invest in employees and build trust and communication to help them flourish. What makes a great leader hasn’t changed -- as far as the core leadership principles that define them -- but the way it has shifted over the years has changed!

How We Build Relationships Today

The shift to the people, as we mentioned above, has changed how we build relationships. Relationships are still key like they were 15-20 years ago, but how we build relationships is different today. For instance, today, leaders might need to do a better job of being more vulnerable or having empathy for people. It’s not that it wasn’t necessary in the past, but it’s definitely more critical for leadership today. It’s a more critical soft skill that leaders need to have to connect with their employees. The old “command and control” style of leadership is dying. The new breed of leadership, one that’s focused on elevating others and the people in the organization, is where it’s shifting.

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Great Leaders Get Great Performance

Despite what people may think, great leadership is not a “soft” skill. Leaders get that performance by investing in people, helping them improve, and raising the bar to not what good looks like, but defining what great looks like. They do all this by leaning on those strong relationships with employees that they’ve developed and maintained. And if that’s the case, why is leadership so difficult?

First, there is the “human element” - after all, we’re dealing with human beings, and human beings are tough. Mr. Eades’ reminded us that “everybody is going through something whether you know it or not.” And, it can be difficult to understand what it is that others around us are going through. There are also hierarchical issues since employees are jockeying for their position, authority, and power, making it difficult. Lastly, the ground we’re leading on is shifting. Today, technology changing at a breakneck speed adds another layer of complexity to why leadership is so hard.

Leadership Principles Defined

There are many different definitions of leadership if you look in a dictionary or do an internet search. John Eades explained that a leader is defined as someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve to elevate others. These three terms are carefully chosen to define leadership!

First and foremost, they have to inspire, as in, literally “breathing life” into employees. Next, leaders empower: they allow people to make choices and decisions, and have some sort of authority without feeling micromanaged. And lastly, leaders serve. “Flip that pyramid - leaders work for their people!” as Mr. Eades put it. These are the three key definitions and pieces that really make up a great leader.

The Role of Leader as Coach

One of the primary responsibilities of a leader today is to be a coach for their people.

Employees want or desire three key things from a coach:

  1. Transfer of Competence - help me get better at my job
  2. Transfer of Confidence - help me have more belief in myself
  3. Career Progression - help me see the role I may play in the future

Leaders have to equip and coach their people to develop the competence and confidence they need to make good decisions. John introduced us to the concept of “Magical Coaching,” which basically means “I have seen you solve problems like this before; go ahead and make the decision. I will support you.” Imagine the impact that this could have on your organization if your boss/manager/leader were to empower you to make decisions in this way!

The Primary Benefit of Elevating Others

“The benefit of elevating others, in being a leader that inspires, empowers, and serves today is that you make a tremendous impact on the people that you get the opportunity to lead. And as a human being... I don’t know that there’s a higher calling in life.” - John Eades

You could potentially lose your job, but the impact that you left on others cannot be taken away! Ultimately, leadership is still about performance and achieving more, but that gives us the platform and opportunity to impact our people.

Building The Best

This book was released in November 2019 and even had some great acknowledgment from Forbes. Mr. Eades says it was really initially inspired by “failure.” It took some constructive criticism and learning, but he was able to turn it around after research. As a result, he studied what the best leaders do, and that research turned into a set of leadership principles, tools, and strategies to help people elevate the way they lead. 

Five Leadership Styles

It’s important to note that leadership style is NOT a personality profile - leadership is a journey, so no one style is “set” within a person. It may help you think about how you are currently leading and what you can implement. Each style relates to how well a leader leverages love and discipline in the way they lead. Love means to contribute to someone’s long-term success and well-being, while discipline means to promote standards in order for an individual to choose to be at their best.

  1. “Manage” Style of Leadership (low love/low discipline): Typically thinks about themselves first, rarely does things that elevate other people, more of a “manager” in title alone.
  2. “Rule” Style of Leadership (low love/high discipline): “My way or the highway,” relies heavily on the rules of the standards, not a whole lot of contributing to others’ long-term success or well-being. May get good results initially, but over time, they have a tough time sustaining them. 
  3. “Please” Style of Leadership (high love/low discipline): Typically leaders who don’t like having tough conversations, strive for harmony in the workplace, they are people who are rarely ever going to get promoted, and their teams tend to underperform. 
  4. “Support” Style of Leadership (medium love/medium discipline): These are good leaders, just not great. They use high love and high discipline at different times, leveraging them in different ways.
  5. “Elevate” Style of Leadership (high love/high discipline): These leaders typically get results from a 14% increase in employee engagement, and an 11% reduction in voluntary employee turnover. Over time, they get better results.  

A Sample of the “8 Principles”

Of course, there are eight principles in Mr. Eades’ book. When we asked him about some of these, he explained that right now, his favorite is the 4th Principle: “People persevere because of purpose and not pay.” Leaders are the “connectors of cause” for their people that end up out-performing others. If leaders can connect their people with a deeper purpose behind their work, and take that responsibility, they can really make a huge impact on their teams, their organizations, and their customers!

The Critical Role of HR

According to John, there’s no more important role in organizations today than Human Resources. We absolutely need an advocate in organizations constantly talking about the human element at work. Technology is essential and takes up a large portion of our work today, but humans are at the center of it all. If you’re in HR, know that you’re needed more than ever!

It was a pleasure getting the chance to speak with John about leadership principles and style, the shift in relationship building, and how to get excellent performance from your leaders. We hope it was as helpful for your organization as it was for ours! Don’t forget to check out his book, Building The Best, and subscribe to the ProjectHR podcast, so you never miss another episode!

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About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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