Leadership for Life – Seven Lessons of Leadership

By on December 15, 2014
Seven Lessons of Leadership

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

I spent an enjoyable morning a couple of weeks ago with Bob Rogers, President of DDI (Development Dimensions International). He made a presentation on Seven Lessons of Leadership. In a nutshell, here they are:

  1. The number one job of leaders is to steer the energy and passions of your associates in a common direction that leads to success.
  2. Handle conflict immediately and at the lowest level.
  3. Structure always follows strategy.
  4. Make every decision like it will be headline news in tomorrow’s paper.
  5. Leadership is about making your subordinates successful.
  6. Manage the culture, or it will manage you.
  7. Seek to understand, then to be understood.

These seven items require a bit of explanation, which is why we spent a couple of hours together, rather than a few minutes. For instance, if you’re going to steer energy and passion, you need to have people who actually have energy and passion. That means hiring and assessment of new employees is a key element of the process. You want the right people in the right jobs. The ensuing discussion of this item also led to the conclusion that good employees are assets, not expenses. If you get that wrong, there goes the passion.

Another item that spoke to my experience is the one about decision making. Some of the discussion following this item included knowing the difference between exploring change vs. introducing change. While one may follow the other, there’s an important distinction to be made between them. Another element of the discussion was the issue of silent vetoes, in which people just go along quietly, but sabotage the decision covertly. The important issue here is what is the penalty for open disagreement? If it costs too much to disagree with the boss, who’s going to risk it?

Lesson five, the one about making your subordinates successful, stood out because of the issue of ego. It usually takes a strong ego to be a strong leader, but that very quality may prove to be a leader’s undoing if not reined in from time to time. That means giving your team the credit, even when you know you played a strong role in the success of an initiative. That’s part of how leaders develop people, and the best leaders are the best developers of people. Furthermore, the very best leaders don’t blame others for failure, but spend their energy finding solutions to problems.

Great leaders also are receptive to feedback, especially developmental feedback. If you think you’re perfect, you’re already doomed. Great leaders are never satisfied with the status quo, whether concerning themselves or the organization. Continuous improvement is their mantra.

Hope you all have a joyous holiday season and the happiest of New Years.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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