Having started three companies, managed teams for government and private companies, met thousands of company leaders, coached executives, and kept building my own skill set as a leader, I’ve found seven easy leadership lessons -- easy to know, but difficult to execute! Take a look at these 7 and let me know what you think. Maybe select one or two actions that you want to improve. Also, if you’ve found others critical to your success, please share.
As a leader, you must demand the most of your people to achieve the best for your team. Expect excellence. If you demand it for yourself, make sure that you demand it from others. Then remember, as a leader, you coach, show, teach and help others reach your vision and definition of excellence. Then time you spend in your organization providing that definition and coaching will develop leaders around you who in turn will challenge your own skills. And as a leader, we thrive on challenges, right?
Only those leaders who dedicate time to plan can implement results. Planning takes time. Many leaders find that quick action, which often has been an excellent tool in their toolbox, fails them when they enter a leadership role. When coaching executives, I find that execution suffers because of neglected planning.
To be a successful leader, you need to surround yourself with the best people. Too often, leaders delegate recruitment to their managers, or worse, their HR team. For your inner-circle, you must surround yourself with those who have the talent, vision, and fire. One of your key tasks as a leader is to always be recruiting those individuals. Keep working at creating a virtual bench of professionals that you can hire when you need.
4. Get involved
Determine to achieve whatever you resolve to do. Get personally involved. Be the biggest cheerleader on the team. Leaders involve themselves to help the team thrive. This isn’t micromanagement or getting in the way of those you delegate to. It’s knowing and understanding what’s going on around you. Remember generals like Napoleon and Julius Caesar knew the names of those who served under them and took interest in their situations. They were involved with their troops.
I confess, this is one of my personal weaknesses. However, in coaching driven executives who push themselves to exhaustion, find a new spark of creativity when they take time to relax. Stephen Covey nicely termed it, “sharpening the saw.” All leaders, like athletes, need time to rest, recover, and refresh.
A good leader finds new sources of inspiration for learning and constantly renewing their vision. Seek out places to learn. It might be hard skills or soft skills. As a marathon runner, one of my favorite quotes is from Tom Fleming, “Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.” Remember, there is always someone learning, more ambitious, creative, and driven to win. If you want to continue to lead, you too need to build upon your experiences with new information available to you.
The best leaders in the world are comfortable with ambiguity. Answers don’t exist. You can study all the MBA white papers you want, but in the real world of daily leadership, you have to feel comfortable in the ambiguity of the moment. You can select an action. It might be right or wrong or neither or both, but in the end, it doesn’t matter: you need to ride on the excitement of that action with enthusiasm and joy. Only being comfortable with ambiguity does this happen.