Leadership needs a belief system to stay present, otherwise they succumb to regret of past and fear of future. Defined and articulated principles allow us to solve problems, manage the unpredictable, and nurture creative ideas.
Inspire – Ask Why, not How Much
The core of achieving success is not finding an objective around price, revenue and profitability, but rather figuring out why we are doing something to improve the life of the customer or a common good.
Define the WHY, then organize the HOW and then manage the WHAT.
Simplify and Keep Things Brief
Get rid of irrelevant details so the essential things stand out. The processes in an organization must support simplicity. To do this, leadership needs to be an organizational engineer and incorporate vision and creativity. They must stay focused on the objectives of the company and cannot get distracted by shiny objects, which will cause them to go off on tangents.
People who push through successfully have to-do lists, which are reasonably prioritized, and they make certain each item is ticked off in order. They ensure team members are provided clear feed-back when a task is complete. Communicate all processes and rules with transparency by explaining the why and principles behind them. Policies should be natural extensions of our principles. Effective leaders define success for themselves and the organization based on pursuits which are beyond the materialistic accumulation.
Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit.
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. They must have conviction in their opinions, but also listen objectively to test their beliefs and ensure that everyone is heard. They do this by finding people who have the strengths and skills they don’t possess in order to round out the skill set of the team. This helps teams to develop guardrails to prevent tasks from falling through the cracks. It is difficult to see oneself objectively, one needs to rely on the input of others, and the whole body of evidence to find their blind spots.
Leaders do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion and do not let what others think derail their commitment to their decisions. Leaders take responsibility for their decisions and the actions of the team because they understand the strength is in the team and not in the sum of its parts.
· Go to the pain rather than avoid it.
· Don’t tolerate problems.
· Appreciate the art of TOUGHTFUL DISAGREEMENT.
· Once a decision is agreed or directed, commit whether you are 100% behind it or not.Don’t get stuck in disagreement – escalate or vote.
· If you find you can’t reconcile major differences – especially in values – consider whether the relationship with worth preserving.
Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify a process or solution. They are externally aware, always look for new ideas, and are not limited by a "not invented here" mentality. As they do new things, they accept others may not understand their vision for long periods of time and appreciate the opinions of others are limited by their limited knowledge of the process or solution.
Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious and explore new possibilities whenever they find them. They are always prepared and show up with knowledge from significant self-directed research surrounding the task and deliverables at hand. They do not come to the table expecting others to educate them the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the company.
· Stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and a be skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ.
· No task is beneath a leader.
· Be evidence based and encourage others to do the same.
· Ensure that people have a deep understanding of how to do their jobs.
Insist on the Highest Standards.
Leaders have relentlessly high standards and are continually raising the bar to drive their teams to deliver higher quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and any problems are fixed properly.
Effective leaders focus on long-term thinking and results. They do not make decisions to appease short-term results or optics. They understand the bigger picture and steer the company away from myopic thinking for short-term gain at the expense of long-term vision.
Trust but verify. Leaders understand that people outside of the organization are often misguided because they have their own agendas, motives and objectives, which may run contrary to the company’s long-term vision. People often provide answers simply for the purpose of giving answers so, leaders listen closely to ensure they understand what is being said and how it will affect the company as a whole.
· Be especially skeptical of statements that begin with ‘I think…’
· Seek to receive the facts.
· Ask people to back up their statements with evidence; or identify when they don’t know something or are simply unsure.
Speed matters in business. A part-time or wait and see approach does not serve the organization of the team. Leaders make decisions because they realize many actions are reversible and do not need extensive study to be executed. They are able to make rapid decisions because they have already done the research through continued learning, understand the long-term vision, and value calculated risk taking. Effective leaders are committed to getting things done instead of taking a wait and see approach. Anyone in an organization needs to feel they can raise their hand when they feel the work is not getting done, without any fear of judgement, reprisals, or shame. Leaders recognize people have their own beliefs and these beliefs are not the responsibility of the rest of the team, the share-holders or the customer. What matters is the long-term vision, goals, and plan of action to move the whole team forward towards success.
· Be determined.
· Push through to completion.
· Manage as someone operating a machine to achieve a goal.
· People are the most important part.
· People should be expected to do their job well, not just the tasks on their checklists.
Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expenditures.
Take Care of your Mind and Body
Above all, effective leaders ensure they get enough sleep to be at their best mental acuity. They understand that without enough sleep their mood and communication will be effected and this can impede teamwork. In order to gain strength, one has to push one’s limits and this cannot be done without proper sleep, nourishment and exercise.
· Understand your ego barrier.
· Attitude is everything.
· Remain positive and spoke positively.
· Extend gratitude.
· Negativity does not serve the team, and it holds us back from reaching the outcome.
· Maintain technical skills.
Hire and Develop the Best.
Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take their role in coaching others seriously. Effective leaders think through which values, abilities and skills they are looking for (and in that order) in an employee. They make finding the right people a systematic and scientific process. They look for people who are willing to look at themselves objectively and improve. They don’t hire people just to fit the first job they will do for the organization - they hire people who will grow with the organization.
· Hire people who you want to share your professional life with.
· Show candidates your warts.
· Look for people who ask lots of great questions.
· Make your passion and your work one and the same, and do it with people you want to be with.
· Provide constant feed-back. Evaluate accurately, not kindly.
Leaders provide a safe place for their teams to share information because freely sharing information is critical for working together as a team. They understand individuals believe what they do has more value as a solitary unit than it really does. Most people prefer compliments over complaints, however an effective leader communicates using both praise and constructive criticism to teach and then help people through the pain which comes with exploring weaknesses.
Be prepared for public failure. It will happen. See it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust because they understand a customer’s value to the overall health of the organization. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
The sales department isn’t the whole company, but the whole company better be the sales department.
Direct Communication (with compassion)
Effective teams don’t work in silos, instead they stress an overall team dynamic and communicate directly with each other throughout the day both in meetings and on an as-needed basis to ensure all team members know where the project is in the process.
Leaders have integrity and demand it from others. They never say anything about someone they wouldn’t say to them directly. They must put the organization first and not allow their feelings of loyalty to stand in the way of truth and the well-being of the organization.
· No one has the right to hold a critical opinion without speaking up. Speak up, own it or get out.
· Don’t share sensitive information with the organization’s competitor, customers or those who might possibly leak it.
Highly effective teams break down silos by working and communicating with each other frequently. They work together in collaboration not competition. For instance, if someone’s falling behind on a sprint deliverable, a great team will assign someone else on the team who knows a little bit just to help. This builds the teams and creates resiliency by expanding the number of people who are familiar with that part of the project.
Empower Each Person on the Team
People do their best work when they are empowered to try things, make decisions, and take responsibility instead of relying on approval and direction from those higher up on the chain. That’s why micromanaging usually doesn’t work. Highly effective teams understand this and empower team members to do what needs to be done with a minimum of red tape and approval-seeking, even if there is a hierarchy structure.
Automate Everything Possible
Creating deliverables is the ultimate goal for highly effective teams, not clocking time, or looking busy. To be successful they lean heavily on the unnamed team member: Automation. If a task can be automated, it is automated to free up time for tasks which cannot be automated. Team members work together on finding and sharing ways to let automation handle as much work as possible. Effective leaders understand that a reduced workload is a badge of success, not a sign of laziness or ineffectiveness.
When possible, teams must convert the decision making method into algorithms by using personal principles, which are common and write code to automate those decisions.
That said, common sense, imagination and determination cannot be automated.
Track Meaningful Metrics Only
Effective teams resist the urge to measure everything, instead, they look instead for ways to set meaningful measurements, which support the company and organization-wide goals. Good metrics help an effective team get the data needed for adjustment and they understand that these metrics are only a means to an end, not the end itself.
Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. They always rise to the occasion and never settle.
Think for Yourself.
Leaders don’t look to others to direct them. They figure out the path forward themselves and communicate the plan with humility and open-mindedness, aware that what is true to you, may not be true for others. They also seek to come to common ground through shared values and healthy debate to ensure the best decisions are being made. Effective leaders understand that success is only achieved if the team has shared values.
· Become a principled thinker.
· Rather than thinking ‘I’m right’, start to ask: ‘how do I know I am right?’
· Are the patterns of mistakes the products of weaknesses.
· The true essence of life is non-reaction.
· Be self-referred.
· Seeking recognition from the outside is ego.
Don’t overlook Governance
Governance is the process of checks and balances of power to assure the principles and interests of the community, as a whole, are always placed above the interests and power of any individual or faction.