Leadership Attitude

It’s simple in concept...
  • Surround yourself with high levels of aptitude
  • Generously give others the credit
  • Take responsibility…put yourself out there to be ultimately accountable.
I’ve never met a great leader who didn’t embody these qualities. And more importantly, I’ve never met anyone who acts this way that isn’t a great leader…no matter their title.
Really hard to execute…but it starts with a mindset, a world view that this attitude is what it takes to lead and to make change.

Sucking Down

Really enjoyed this recent Tom Peters quip...An effective brand you knows "sucking DOWN" is 10-100X more important than "sucking up."

It reminded me of the single most important life lesson I've learned in my adult time on the planet. Pandering to those above you (or to yourself) is never as effective as investing in the development of healthy relationships with your peers, team member and family. This is where leadership starts...and ends.


Does a Leader Care?

If you think about Seth's recent post about loving customers in the context of leadership, a leader has two customers. There' s the external customer who ends up paying for the experience. And then there's the internal customer, the staff...all the people under the leader's care.

I've seen many managers totally miss the point of "who serves who" inside the organization. They have this idea that employees are there to serve them, to do what they say and follow their "lead". Great leaders recognize the opposite is true. They know they are there to serve everyone else, to inspire, to remove obstacles, to comfort, to teach...to create leaders.

Best plan for a leader is to always treat employees like customers. Failure leads to distrust, disgruntlement and finding someone else to buy from. 

Arrive 5 Minutes Early

That’s all it would take…to deliver the unexpected…to change your image.

Imagine the power of making this statement..."I care more about you than me”. Imagine how this would foster trust, respect and friendship.

And it’s really not that hard. Assuming you already plan your arrival to be “on-time”, then you can certainly plan to arrive at a new, "double secret" on-time…that only you know about. And by doing so, you’re guaranteed to meet everyone’s expectation, every time. The free prize is that you’ll be there noticeably early…every time. And that’s unexpected…and it begins to send a message about you and your belief system, your core values, and how you set your priorities. And it shows that you care.

Give it a whirl…what’s the downside?

What Can I Do to Improve?

Most of the time we wait for someone to tell us…because that's what we've been taught. Rarely do we take the initiative to ask (our boss, customer, friend/spouse) this question without solicitation…mostly because we're afraid to. Asking the question invites criticism of our work, our world view and what we stand for. Asking suggests that we aren't good enough and that we have issues to correct. Perhaps the questions should be rephrased…how can I help make things better?

As a leader imagine if your front line employees came to you with that sort of initiative. Now imagine what the employee might say if you came to them with the same question…what can we do to help you realize your goals, dreams (different than asking how can we help you improve)?

We're taught that as leaders our job is to get the most out of people…that's management. We're taught to teach, measure and correct…to improve productivity and yield. We're taught that as followers we should do our best to meet standards, fit in and follow the game plan. And if we're not doing so, our bosses will tell us. But what would happen if we moved the waiting game out of the way? What if everyone every once in a while asked themselves (then those around them)…how can I make things better? Imagine how refreshing that would be.

Treat People Like Family

As a leader, a large part of earned respect is dependent on your delivery...not what you say, but how you say it. Here’s a simple rule I follow...treat subordinates as you would your own family. If you wouldn’t say it to your loved ones, don’t say it that way to the people at work. Now, extend that to customers, peers and others in general.

A slight twist of the golden rule...and very effective.

Don't Answer the Question

Try this experiment the next time a subordinate or child asks you for an answer to a challenging question (warning, does not work well with a spouse)...ask them a question in return. Leaders know how to solve problems and find answers. Giving people answers then doesn't really help develop this critical skill set. Conversely, helping them find the right path teaches them to think and find the right support.

Your Style Matters

If you consider that people always do their best work when they are treated fairly and with enthusiasm, why would anyone in a leadership position (boss or peer) treat someone any differently? How many times have we seen someone (or been someone) getting chewed out, diminished or made fun of? Treating people with a lack of dignity and respect is probably the single greatest threat to being successful...at anything.

If you can only spare enough time to make one adjustment...this is the one.