Would you improve your leadership skills if I agreed to pay you $666,000.00 a year?

If so, read on.

I recently asked a couple of Saint Louis Cardinals friends—experts at player contracts—how they would value good leadership. These guys make a living out of assigning value to ballplayers based on speed and performance, so I figured they would know a thing or two about how much leaders get paid.

After talking about it for a few minutes they concluded that an above average Major League player would make $10 million in a three-year contract, whereas the same player with leadership skills would make $12 million. That’s a difference of $666,000.00 per year.

So how does one develop leadership skills? It comes down to two very important concepts.

1. Lead By Example.

It is essential that in order to be a great leader, one must have great integrity, both in the field (or office) and not. Work hard and work smart. Do what it takes to inspire others to follow in your footsteps by acting with professionalism and good humor. Treat people with respect and choose your language carefully. You may want to make a list of the positive traits of those you admire professionally and imagine those individuals are monitoring your behavior.

2. Provide Positive Vocal.

Your colleagues must hear you on a regular basis. It’s not enough to just be heard; you must be heard saying the right things. No teammate is going to want to hear you complain or blame. Use positive affirmations and reinforcement to inspire your teammates/colleagues to be their best. Talk about the solutions instead of the problems, and you will generally be seen as positive. Don’t go too far: on a scale of one to ten, ten may appear as inauthentic, and a one will leave them resentful. Shoot for somewhere around a seven, and your teammates will likely respond in a positive manner.

So while you may not increase your annual salary by $666,000 by implementing these principles, what I can assure is that you will gain the skills that will absolutely increase your value, both as a leader and a teammate. You’ll also find that these will have a positive impact on your own ability and performance. And who knows, you might just enjoy yourself along the way.

Keep up the great work and remember to choose greatness, every day!

Dr. Jason Selk LPC, NCC is the Director of Mental Training for the World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals, and author of 10-Minute Toughness and the newly released book Executive Toughness, The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance (McGraw-Hill, Nov 2011).

For more on Jason you can also visit his WEBSITE or on TWITTER.

*Photo by Al_HikesAZ.