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Working closely with hundreds of organizations of different sizes and types with wide-ranging circumstances and personalities has been an invaluable education. I’ve translated some of the lessons I've learned about leadership into what I consider general, universal principles. Here are 25 of them.People want leadership, and organizations are hungry for good leaders.  If you are a good leader, you will be needed.Being a leader is a great opportunity for personal and professional development. You will constantly need to practice self-awareness, self-discipline, and judicious self-expression.As a leader, you will be continuously challenged by ever-changing circumstances.  Boredom is seldom a problem.Always remember that as a leader, you are a role model. What you do and how you do it will be constantly observed and evaluated. If you’re not a good example, you will be an object lesson.Develop your own personal management style and leadership personality. Don’t be a chameleon. People need to know who you are and what you stand for.Know your values, and lead from them. Having a strong internal gyroscope is the best possible resource for the rigors of leadership.Every leader must be skilled at making presentations—formal and informal, prepared and spontaneous, for an audience of one or many. Learn to express your ideas, feelings, thoughts, and opinions clearly and succinctly. Practice! And get professional help if this is a weak area.Management is taking care of systems.  Leadership is taking care of people. Tend to both, because both are essential.Take good care of your employees and they will take good care of your customers/clients. Do everything you can to treat them well.Get out and see what’s going on. Walk the floor. Talk with customers/clients. Stay in touch with line employees, not just your direct reports. Get first-hand information; don’t always rely on interpretations by others.Be a talent scout. Look for bright, energetic people who fit your company culture and values. If they are within the organization, nurture them. If they are outside the organization, recruit them.Once you’ve found good people, mentor and coach them. Provide support, guidance, direction and encouragement.Meet regularly with the people you directly supervise. Don’t assume that “seeing” them regularly is an adequate substitute for dedicated, one-to-one time together.Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Capitalize on your strengths. Compensate for your weaknesses by hiring people with complementary skills. You don’t need to be good at everything, but you do need to be sure that someone is.Don’t waste time by being disorganized. If efficiency and organization don’t come naturally to you, get help from someone who can set up organizational systems and teach you how to use them.Know how to plan and run an effective meeting, and ensure that everyone else does, too. Meetings are a fundamental tool of organizational life. They need to be skillfully managed in order not to waste time and resources.Create a rational organizational structure based on the precept that “form follows function.”  Don’t undermine a logical organizational structure for idiosyncratic considerations.Take care of your personal health and the health of your people, your organization, your community, and the environment. None should be sacrificed for another.Keep your heart open and your mind alert, because going on automatic pilot is the first step toward trouble.Be optimistic. Cynicism is neither inspiring nor useful. Develop an optimistic—yet pragmatic— outlook.Maintain your perspective on all things, at all times. Always consider the big picture and the long term.Cultivate creativity—yours and others’, and the organization’s as a whole. Innovation, problem-solving, and improved morale are just a few of the benefits.Develop your company culture based on qualities that will sustain it through good times and bad. Build an organization that has character.Always know the difference between the means and the ends. There is no substitute for integrity. Remember that you are creating your legacy with everything you do.    •••

Mary Luttrell helps business leaders turn challenges into opportunities, moving them to new levels of success. With more than 30 years of consulting experience, she is known for her ability to simplify complexity and create inspired yet practical action plans. Ms. Luttrell is a management consultant, executive coach, organizational analyst, business strategy advisor, expert meeting facilitator, and innovation specialist. Her firm was named one of the 100 Leading Management Consulting Firms in North America. Ms. Luttrell is an ISO-Certified Management Consultant, a certification awarded by the Institute of Management Consultants USA in recognition of professional achievement in technical competencies, client and project management, and ethics. Less than one percent of all consultants have achieved this level of performance. Ms. Luttrell can be reached at 707-887-2256 or thecoach@sonic.net. Visit her website at www.maryluttrell.com.