Be the Leader You Want Your Boss to Be
You’ve got this. You care, you want results, and as a leader you’re committed to Winning Well. But life gets busy and complicated. Sometimes you just need a quick reminder to get you back on track. Here they are: 52 tips to be the leader you want your boss to be.
1 Remember why you choose to lead: prioritize people and purpose above power, prestige, or pennies.
2 When stuck or overwhelmed: Ask “How can I…?”
3 Solve problems before they occur with clear expectations. Mind the MIT (Most Important Thing)
4 Know your addictions: Are you prone to do it all yourself, people-pleasing, using fear and using people to get things done, or playing games to keep yourself safe?
5 Land in the “And” – It’s not an either/or choice. In every circumstance choose to show up with confidence and humility. Choose to focus on results and relationships.
6 Remember that everyone you lead is a volunteer – even when they’re paid they have a choice about how they show up. You get to influence the choice they make.
7 What matters to them should matter to you.
8 End every meeting by asking: “Who will do what, by when, and how will we know it is done?”
9 Apologize when you screw up, break your word, or hurt someone.
10 When leading peers, be clear whether you’re speaking as their leader or as their colleague.
11 When delegating, create a mutual face-to-face appointment on both calendars where you will receive the project. This ensures delegated tasks don’t fall through the cracks.
12 Hold everyone accountable. It tells your high-performers that you value them. When you let performance or behavior slide, you’re telling everyone you don’t care.
13 Terminating someone for cause is compassion for them and an investment in your team. Be the leader that cares enough to let them go.
14 Connect every “what” to a meaningful “why”.
15 Value people’s time – treat it with respect and expect results from everyone.
16 You can’t lead if you’re always exhausted. Take care of yourself.
17 You’re the drummer of the band. Be the leader who keeps the beat for your team with consistent expectations.
18 You won’t have all the answers and shouldn’t solve problems on your own. Share them with your team. Ask “How can we…?” and let the team take it.
19 Cultivate confidence by asking “What would a confident leader do here?” Then do it.
20 Ask for, and expect the truth. Don’t shoot the messenger.
21 Promote wisely. The most important decision you make is whom you will trust with power and authority.
22 When you don’t agree with a decision, own it anyway. Empower your team by asking “How can we?”
23 Be clear about who owns the decision before you ask for ideas.
24 You can’t ‘do your best’ at everything. Know your MIT (Most Important Thing.)
25 Check for understanding. Don’t ask “Any questions?” and assume they get it.
26 Choose to be effective rather than ‘right.’
27 Things will go wrong – sometimes badly. Don’t blame. Ask, “How can we fix this?”
28 Ask your team “How can I help?” and listen to what they need that only you can provide.
29 When asked for answers, don’t rush to help. First, ask questions that promote critical thinking and problem-solving.
30 Every meeting should achieve results and build relationships.
31 Meetings: invite the least number of people to make the best decision.
32 Meetings: choose only one discussion at a time: Where will we go? or How will we get there?
33 Meetings: begin by clarifying how the decision will be made. Will you make it? Will the team vote? Or by consensus?
34 Learn and leverage your team member’s strengths. Don’t waste time or energy on weaknesses unless it’s limiting the use of their strength.
35 Find superstars by hiring for the strengths displayed by your top performers.
36 When interviewing, avoid hypothetical questions. Ask: “Tell me about a time when…” they demonstrated a key competency.
37 People are different. Value, embrace, and incorporate the strengths in those differences.
38 Ask “How can I help?” when you know things are going well.
39 Release energy with specific, meaningful, and relevant encouragement.
40 Know where your team needs to go. Focus on the steps to get there, not on the obstacles.
41 Put people before projects. The project will end, but the people will still be there. Invest and collaborate.
42 To influence your supervisor, know what keeps their leader up at night.
43 People need to hear you say “You can do this.”
44 Want innovation? Make it safe for people to have ideas that don’t work.
45 Address performance issues by observing the behavior, ask about it, confirm the desired behavior. (See the INSPIRE model for more.)
46 Foster collaboration and end needless bickering by establishing clear expectations, priorities, and how everyone interacts to achieve these results.
47 Play the game, don’t game the score. What are the key behaviors that drive results. Your customer doesn’t care what you get on your internal scorecard.
48 A blunt axe can’t cut down a tree. Invest in your skills and health.
49 It’s not about you – people’s behavior is about them. Help things make sense to them.
50 Remote and virtual teams are still people. Treat them as such.
51 Use performance reviews to develop strengths and limit liabilities. Everything else is a waste of time.
52 Grow your leadership and impact by connecting to your team, to a community outside your job, and to mentors.
We’d love to hear from you. What would one vital leadership tip you add to help others be the leader they want their boss to be?