What drives your leadership behavior? If you were to write a list of principles that drive you everyday what would you write? I did this exercise over a decade ago and came up with a list which has since been updated to be more simple.
I made many mistakes as a first time leader, and I believe I’ve gotten better; but I’m nowhere near where I want to be. Leadership is hard. Why? Because it means getting out of your own way; it’s about thinking what’s best for others before yourself.
I’ve written about leadership principles a ton, but I’ve never disclosed my own. Here are 10 leadership principles which drive me everyday:
- Empathy: The key to being a good leader is to be able to understand and relate to the people you are leading. Leaders should be able to put themselves in the shoes of their team members and understand their motivations and goals.
- Trust: Trust is the foundation of any successful team. Leaders should be trustworthy and that they should create an environment where their team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns.
- Communication: Communication is everything, from they way you walk to how you talk; clear and effective communication is essential for success. Leaders should be able to communicate their vision and goals in a way that inspires and motivates their team members.
- Mentorship: Mentorship is an essential part of leadership. Leaders should be willing to invest their time and energy in developing the next generation of leaders.
- Decisiveness: Leaders should be decisive and that they should be able to make tough decisions quickly. Leaders should be able to take risks and make decisions that are in the best interest of the team.
- Patience: Leaders should be patient and that they should be able to handle setbacks and challenges with grace. Leaders should be able to keep their cool under pressure and that they should be able to remain focused on their goals even when things are not going as planned.
- Empowerment: Leaders should empower their team members and give them the autonomy to make decisions and take risks. Leaders should be able to create an environment where team members feel comfortable taking initiative and trying new things.
- Humility: Leaders should be humble and that they should be able to admit their mistakes and learn from them. Leaders should be able to admit when they don’t know something and that they should be willing to learn from others.
- Courage: Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply. Leaders should be brave, entering action with boldness.
- Imagination: Being able to imagine a better future, not many people aim to do that. Leaders must be willing to imagine the unimaginable.
These principles drive me everyday, and I teach them to my employees when I mentor them; helping them to become better leaders.
Bottom line: Leadership is not about you, it’s about them.