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Influence: The Compelling Force of Leading by Example

If you have the title of CEO, Owner, Founder, President, Executive Director, or Senior Director, there is one question that is paramount: 

What does a good leader do?

Our culture seems to be careening toward dictatorial, authoritarian, and autocratic types of leadership in just about every facet of our lives.

Consider this a course correction of what real leaders do.

  1. You listen: When you listen better, the depth of the conversation goes up. Which means, you talk with – not at people.
  1. You don’t abuse authority: Harsh, demanding, and mean-spirited behavior may appear to work at first, but the long term consequences will be high turnover, low productivity, and even active sabotage.
  1. You understand what delegation means: You don’t give it away, then pull it back. That’s yo-yo delegation – and it really demoralizes colleagues.
  1. You don’t project your anger and panic attacks on colleagues and associates: I’ve been in leadership and served under leaders for decades. There were times when I used to overthink it. How about we start by being kind to each other, and work our way up from there? If you struggle with anger issues, get help.Seriously, there is no shame in that.
  1. Emergencies happen – but as a way of life, you respect people’s time: That means when you commit to be at a meeting you’re at the meeting. Barring a crisis you don’t change the meeting. One employee listed their reason for leaving: “I couldn’t stand the waste. Wasted time in meetings, wasted use of resources, and wasted opportunities.
  1. You’re careful about the perks you allow yourself to have: Recently, the CEO of United Airlines took a private plane on a trip while thousands of paying United customers were stranded for days at airports. Nobody denies he has the right and position to take a private plane whenever he wants. But, not during a nationwide crisis of canceled flights. Bad form, sir, bad form. I don’t want to park closest to the door or eat first.
  1. You put people first: One survey found that top executives spend roughly 90% of their time concerned with the messiness of people’s problems. As you look back over your life what has had the greatest influence? Every survey I’ve read comes back with one answer: A person – or a number of key people – with whom you have had real-life personal contact. It’s always direct contact with a person with a person that has had the most impact on our lives.
  1. You’re lavish with praise: If you think of praising someone, you should express it. If you think it, say it. People want to be valued and appreciated. Research shows that affirmation motivates people much more than financial incentives. People thrive on praise – and almost everyone would say they don’t receive enough.
  1. You’re flexible in your approach with those you lead: Some who work for you need to be told to pick up the pace. Others need to be encouraged. Some just need a break. Everyone needs you to be patient. Great leaders give people what they need, when they need it.
  1. You’re trustworthy: If you do the first nine, this likely will be the payoff. The best way to create trust is to be consistent. Collaboration happens at the speed of trust.

Got to go, someone needs praise.

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