What do you think is the essence of leadership?
What are foundational strategies for learning to lead or lead better?
After more than 30 years in leadership development, I’ve focused my clients on the irreducible minimums: the most important actions that improve leadership effectiveness. What follows are some of the foundational ideas I’ve identified. This list can serve as both an agenda and a reminder if you refer to it periodically.
1. Leaders determine how to get people & organizations to improve.
2. Leaders are meant to be agents for organizational change.
3. Leaders are people who, if their authority was taken away, could still achieve results.
4. Leaders continually grow through study and introspection.
– Learn, unlearn, re-learn.
– Study how you feel about what you do and what would make you more effective.
5. Leaders focus on how best to use their time and energy, and the time and energy of others.
6. Leaders spend 50-75% of their day focusing on the top 3-4 items in their business.
7. Leaders not only do things right, they do the right things.
8. Leaders use future focus and strategic anticipation; they expect the best but plan for the worst.
9. Leaders achieve excellence by investing additional time and energy if it makes the product, service, or outcome noticeably better for their business.
10. Leadership is the pursuit of more, better, faster and different.
– Dare to be different
– Make sure they are asking the right questions
– Search for all the right answers
– Learn to act on incomplete information
– Are willing to make more mistakes and try new things
12. Leaders recognize that decision-making is dangerous if you don’t have enough information.
13. Leaders follow the adage “if it isn’t broken, make it better.”
14. Leaders create a sense of urgency. Ask, “What’s next?”
15. Leaders constantly ask themselves and others what has been done to add value to the organization.
16. Leaders make the system conform to the people, not the reverse.
17. Leaders don’t make essential change an option to their team.
18. Leaders realize that performance is achieved through coaching, training and practice.
19. Leaders know that training is a necessity and that training is teaching people how to do what they are not already doing.
20. Leaders recognize the importance of setting goals that are not easy to achieve for the employees.
21. Leaders look for ways to make what they do each and every day matter for their business.
22. Leaders recognize that change is an indisputable good condition and:
– Make change (improvement) a necessity
– Make the desired outcome of change clear
– Involve people in how change will take place
– Sell the benefits of change
– Reward those people who change for the better
23. Leaders lead with enthusiasm.
24. Leaders create leaders.
You can make this your leadership improvement agenda. Rank order the 24 from what you do least well to what you do best. Then start with number one. Spend a week focused on improving in that strategic area. Then the following week, move on to the next.
The cliche says that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are leaders.
Mark Sanborn is an award winning speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com.
For a free assessment and information about The Classic Fred Factor online training and a unique opportunity to license the training, go to www.FredFactor.com.