There are some some basic ideas that I have formed over the years about leadership. I have had the good fortune of being mentored by some really great leaders. I have taken bits and pieces of their advice and developed ten basic tenets of leadership that I try to adhere to and pass on to other leaders along the way.
As you read through these, do not hold them as the gospel truth, nothing in leadership is set in stone. You can most likely add or delete from this list and still be an effective leader. For me, they have become the backbone of how I build and lead teams and I hope, if nothing else, you learn from them.
1. Promote Teamwork
No matter what leadership role I am in, I always try to build high-performing teams that are based on mutual respect. As a leader, you must find the right players to be on your team. I do not accept individual promotion, the team must always come first.
2. Lead by Example
You earn respect by followers through leading by example. When you are willing to do the very things you ask of your team – you have become a leader. Never shy away from the responsibility of demonstrating what it takes to be successful.
3. Listen and Communicate
Have the courage to give and receive feedback. One of the more important attributes of a leader is having the ability to listen, I mean truly listen to what your team is telling you. That is the best way to learn what is happening. You must also separate facts from opinion or speculation.
Own your mistakes, learn from them, and then try to do better. Be on time, be prepared, and take ownership for tasks that you have been assigned. Hold others accountable, do not let your team fail because of your inability as a leader to do so.
A close relative of accountability is responsibility. Don’t confuse the two, the difference lies between where ownership is taken. Take responsibility for making business decisions, and then accept accountability for the results of those decisions.
Promote innovation and continuous improvement. There is an Apple ad that I discussed in a previous post that really sums it up best: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” You must encourage your teams to come up with crazy ideas.
6. Manage Expectations
The telltale sign of a strong leader is one that is able to deliver bad news at the right time. Failing to meet a deadline is understandable, but failing to communicate that before the deadline is not. That is what good leaders do, they manage expectations.
7. Be Flexible
Leaders are true to their core values and beliefs, but they are also willing to be flexible in their implementation. Sometimes leaders are more involved with details, other times they are in the background. Good leaders let the situation set the course of approach.
8. Energy and Enthusiasm
Both of these have a ripple effect on your teams. When you are excited and passionate about “why” you are doing something, your team will notice that, and they will begin to develop a similar level of energy and passion. Constantly be the voice that reminds them of how they “can” accomplish great things, and spare them the reasons they “can’t.”
9. Have Fun
People stay with an organization because of their leader and the environment they work in. When is the last time you heard someone bragging about working for a leader that is a workaholic or always working at a breakneck pace? Most people would rather work for someone that has balance in their life, is fun to hang out with, and likes to laugh (especially at themselves). Build a team that works hard, and plays hard.
Have a purpose. Develop goals that are seemingly unattainable, that when accomplished, will be talked about for years to come. When you set your target high, the misses will still result in above average results, and when you hit them they become legendary. Become legendary, your team will thank you in the end.
My name is Mark Behl. My passion is leadership. I share ideas, not lectures. If you would like to share an idea with me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you come back for future posts.