5 rules of leadership I wish someone had told me before I got started…
- You don’t (always) know best – So go find out who does. Hire good people, seek advice, go external and learn from others. What are you working on right now? Where could you look to make it better? Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when you don’t know the answer, or you think you might be wrong. Not knowing is not a sign of weakness – quite the opposite, if it means you want to learn. I rate our people that say ‘I don’t know but I’m going to find out’ far more than someone who has ‘all the answers all of the time’
- Don’t be a ‘HIPPO’ (highest paid person’s opinion) - Just because there is a senior person in the room, their opinion does not win over yours. Use data and stories to support your argument. Seek and support others who have a more informed view than yours. Be the enabler of opinions in a room, especially those quieter or more introverted than others.
- Always assume good intent - Defensiveness and a closed mind is the devil to progress and collaboration. If you are thinking ‘why the hell did that person ask me such a dumb question’? Put yourself in their shoes and ask where might they be coming from? Take time to check you understand their question and their intent. Most people aren’t there simply to halt your progress or be awkward for the sake of it (there are of course exceptions!)
- Seek out feedback. Always. How can you build on your top 3 strengths and get help with your bottom 3. Be an ‘open cup’ to feedback (this can take practice and coaching and doesn’t come naturally to everyone). It’ll make you a better person and a better leader. Try and get used to giving (and asking for) feedback in the moment rather than awaiting an official ‘performance conversation’. In order to depersonalise feedback use a model like ‘1. Observation 2. Impact 3. Suggestion’ to make it objective.
- Active listening is really powerful - actually listen - ask what, why, why, why, ...coach suggestions to problems rather than give solutions. You’re more likely to develop an empowered and confident team as a result. My personal observation is that a sign of intelligence and great leadership potential is the ability to ask more (smart) questions than give out answers.
And finally, don’t always listen to the rules! Sometimes follow your instincts and go against the grain. There is always a better way of doing things. Those people that constantly seek how to better themselves, their teams, and the way things are done generally have more leadership potential than those that are accepting of the status quo!
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