A philosophy for effective leadership

On my continuous journey to being an effective leader I’ve made many mistakes and continually learn from them and the people I meet along the way. I’ve worked with amazing people as well as what Steve Jobs called ‘bozos’. In my current role at Microsoft I’ve given plenty of focus on preventing a ‘bozo explosion’ within my team, Guy Kawasaki wrote a good blog post on this https://guykawasaki.com/how_to_prevent_/ 

Keeping and only hiring the best people is key to success, make sure the people who surround you are better than you and people you can learn from. If you have one mediocre person, that person attracts other mediocre people and before you know it you have a bozo explosion, a depressingly common occurrence in large teams and organizations…This is top of my list in being an effective leader.

1st. Hire and retain amazing and talented people

While on a sabbatical in the late nineties, I read Stephen R Coveys Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He emphasizes that you manage ‘things’ and ‘lead’ people. This has resonated with me ever since and is key to my own personal leadership philosophy.

“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Stephen R. Covey

He has a great article posted here and I recommend reading it: https://leadershipforlife.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/hi/ this thinking is 2nd on my list in being an effective leader

2nd. Leadership is not management

This segues nicely into clarity and vision, often understated and undervalued in teams and organizations. As a leader I’ve realized first-hand how important working with my team to set the direction is. In order to succeed, clarity of this direction has been super important, not just for the team to understand but for the wider org and senior leaders also.

Don’t underestimate the waste and damage that comes from not having a clear vision and direction for your team, I’ve experienced this first hand. Don’t have direction and vision that’s clear from your leadership? Don’t let that stop you from creating your own, just make sure it aligns with what you believe your organization is trying to achieve.

3rd. Clarity of vision and direction is essential

Lastly, have relationships with the people around you. Understand what it’s like to be them and live their lives, put yourself in their shoes. When someone lets you down (we all let others down), don’t assume it’s intentional. When someone lets me down I assume something has gone wrong and they are / have done their best to correct it. In the past I’ve assumed the worst, that people have not turned up to meetings in order to waste my time, taken credit for my work to further themselves or bad mouthed me behind my back to rally others against me for their own gain.

Nowadays I simply assume a person has come up against a road block and so I ask what I can do to help as it must have been serious for them to let me down. This defuses the situation if they were being malicious and if they weren’t I get to learn what it was and help if I can.

4th. Grow and embrace your emotional intelligence (EQ) (watch these TED talks)

I work at the above every day, not just at work but where I can at home with family and friends too. I fail often, picking myself up and moving forward. I no longer beat myself up when I fail – I pause, think about the situation and apologize if I’ve done wrong, then I move on with emphasis on acting differently next time (using the above principles).

Embracing leadership could solve many of your problems (ones you aren’t yet aware of) and you don’t need to have the authority given to you to act like a leader, just take it and people will follow.

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