Leadership can feel like you’re juggling Ping-Pong balls—or sometimes chainsaws. You’ve got to manage a lot of different skills throughout your day, and dropping one can mean losing the rest.

Keep your eyes and hands on these essentials:

• Goals. People can’t follow you if they don’t know where they’re going, how you plan to take them there, and what they can expect to see when they arrive. Provide a mixture of long-term objectives and short-term targets: to double your revenue in two years on the one hand, for instance, and to answer every customer question within 48 hours on the other.

• Plans. A goal isn’t the same as a plan. Telling people you want to double the size of your business is useless if you don’t explain how to make it happen. Even short-term goals can’t be achieved unless your people understand how to reach them. Get your employees involved in developing tactics so they’re motivated to carry out the plan.

• Leadership style. Different people respond to different types of leadership. Some people need detailed instructions and perform best when everything is spelled out thoroughly; others thrive on autonomy and making their own decisions about how to do a job. Learn to recognize what kind of leadership people need, and be conscious of the style you’re using.

• Trust. People need to believe you’ll do what you promise, enforce the rules consistently, and hold people accountable. Letting an employee get away with tardiness because of personal problems at home may feel like a favor, for instance, but if your workforce decides you’ve got a double standard, employees will lose respect for you as a leader.

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