One thing I have learned over the course of my career is the value of having principles. I have learned that most successful people in any area, field or endeavor are successful because they operate by principles that help keep them on course to whatever success destination to which they are traveling. Without principles, you become forced to be in reactionary mode when situations arise to which you are not prepared. This gets in the way of you being as successful as your potential would allow you to be.
As I sat down to write this article for you, I took some time to think about and consider what principles I could share with you that would enhance your leadership ability and help you convert more of your leadership potential into leadership success. I jotted down a whole list of principles as I reflected on various experiences in my career of advising successful leadership executives and business owners. Once I had a whole legal pad full, I chose five principles on which to focus that I believe, when followed, lead to much leadership success.
As you consider each of these five leadership principles, roll them over in your mind and apply them to your own situational issues. Think about how each of these, when applied, could exponentially accelerate success in your leadership role both now and in your future endeavors.
1. Audit your company culture
Culture is complicated. It’s the culmination of all your human capital, including beliefs, motivations, behaviors and results. Sometimes you have more than one culture. As a matter of fact, in some companies, there are as many cultures as there are managers. Every person has to be bought into what culture is desired in order to be a more effective organization. You can have no accountability without buy-in. Remember, behaviors are motivations & beliefs turned into action and whatever that is, is your culture.
2. Informed people don’t fear change as much
It is usually not the change employees actually fear. It is the unknown, which directly affects them that is feared. As a leader, don’t try to rationalize it, fear is not rational. Be relentless is communication about the future and what it means. Explain why the change is needed and what will now be positively possible because of the change. You need to get as many active supporters as you possibly can, but be realistic, you will always have some active resisters as well as passive resisters fighting it all the way.
3. Keep the leadership pipeline full
Having talented people makes your job easier. You cannot afford to not put in extra time on succession planning. Developing the talent roster in your company is super important. Don’t allow the first year an employee spends in your organization to be their best; it should be constantly improving from there. If you don’t have a career path clearly defined for people who come into your company, spend time on it a little every day until you do. I believe at least 20% of your time as a leader should be spent on reciting, interviewing, hiring and developing the best talent you can find.
4. Know how your business makes money
When people generally talk about leadership, business acumen is seldom mentioned. Truthfully, without it, advancement gets tough for you. In most successful organizations, leaders have to live their businesses with focus and energy. In less successful companies, leaders are out of touch with business realities. A business only survives if a need is satisfactorily met for a customer. You should know intimately your customers, their wants and needs and how well they match up with your products and service. Without this, there is no business and no need for leadership, management or employees.
5. Embrace imperfection
All leadership is about people and there are no perfect people. They have issues. You have issues. They have needs, desires and wants which sometimes may not make sense to you, but they are real nonetheless. If you lean toward being a perfectionist, you need to make sure you have a long time horizon in which to survive and you need to be charging a lot more for the meticulousness of your perfect output. For all others, mistakes will happen. Embrace these mistakes as learning opportunities in which to grow and get better. Try to remember, there are no perfect people, not even you.