True leaders encompass the aspects of leadership into every part of their life. Leadership isn’t a mask they wear, but is ingrained into their very DNA. Following are my personal rules for everyday living.
1) Lead by example. Whether at work or at home every action is a reflection of your abilities as a leader and the way you conduct yourself reflects this. If you are average, your team and social circles will be too. If you push for performance, so will those around you.
2) Be clear on your vision. Provide clear, concise and achievable goals and outline the path to achieving them. Communicate these goals throughout the entire organization and to every stakeholder. Revisit these goals regularly and assure that your entire group is in tune with what is to be accomplished.
3) Own your mistakes. We all make them. Accountability is a real defining factor of leadership. Don’t let ego cloud your responsibility to do the right thing. Instead, recognize and admit the mistake, learn from it and take corrective action to assure it doesn’t happen again.
4) Be humble. Listen. Learn. If you’ve truly done your job of surrounding yourself with gifted people they will have insight that you lack. Seek out that information and use it. Assuming that you are right without confirming your assumptions can lead to disaster. Take advantage of your team’s “boots on the ground” experience.
5) Be thoughtful but decisive. It’s your job to set the direction and pace for your organization. Listen to input, evaluate the various courses of action and consider the results. Recognize that a given solution may not meet the entire need and, when necessary, accept a plan that gets 80% of the way there. Then, be ready to communicate that plan. Don’t shy away from stakeholder questions. Be prepared for them, welcome them and set the path forward.
6) Create competition. Nothing gets people fired up like healthy competition. And nothing shows involvement like a leader who is continually setting tough goals and encouraging his team to stretch to meet them. Create challenges and encourage your team to surpass them.
7) Create team passion. Demonstrating how every one of your direct reports is critical to the success of his team and to the overall goals of the company should be a primary objective. Instilling in them a sense of self-worth and showing how their successes relate to the overall organization’s success will provide them with the confidence and desire to surpass their personal goals. This is the path that creates passionate teams who can overcome any obstacle.
8) Don’t rely on your title. Your title should only exist to remove obstacles and align resources. A true leader relies on his ability to persuade and to create clear, logical reasonings. Focus on what motivates your particular group. Absorb the information they share and scale it appropriately.
9) Do what you say. Nothing builds trust like a leader who reliably delivers on promises. And nothing erodes it faster than unfulfilled commitments. Be ready to make those commitments but understand what they entail first. If you can’t provide what you’ve promised, communicate that clearly, offer alternatives and get buy-in on the new direction. Make sure they understand why things have changed and what you are doing to address it.
10) Provide recognition. Your team’s successes and failures are yours. Regularly recognize the successes of individuals and share them throughout the organization. Do this in individual and team meetings, as well as through every other corporate communication method. Make sure people know how good your teams are and what they’ve accomplished.