Hey, let’s make a list of ways to be a successful leader. As an Aspie I was fascinated with father-figures on TV like Jed Clampett who seemed to know how to handle anything. So I’ve tried to learn how to do that. Wanna help me?
These are the ones I know. as far as I can tell, these apply to every job I’ve ever had, from mowing lawns to cancer research:
- Always work harder than your subordinates.
- Maintain perspective, and always keep sight of the overall take-away goal.
- Be able to articulate goals, and set reasonable short term steps to get there. Don’t move the goal posts until your people make a goal with the old posts.
- Leadership is a social thing. Everything humans do is in a social context relating to some concept of community. Humans mak communities. Your people are your community.
*Always default to compassion, assume your people intend to fulfill their roles, other things equal, and accept your people as they are, not how you would like them to be.
- Your job is not to boss your people around, your job is to lead and manage a team. You need to get them to do their jobs (or whatever you need to lead). Your job is to coordinate everyone so they can make that happen.
- Do what you say you will do.
- Don’t promise anything unless you are willing to try your hardest to deliver.
- Protect your people. They are your responsibility. That responsibility is paramount: if you are not your subordinate’s advocate, who is. Loyalty is usually reciprocated; group expectations, pride, and professionalism are better motivators than power or profit.
- Always admit your mistakes. It shows you are strong.
- When you make a mistake, give a sincere and complete apology, including what you did, why you are sorry about it including a complete review of its consequences, and what you plan to do in the future to avoid the problem. I never hurts to ask for understanding, as long as you don’t make it passive aggressive.
- Don’t mess with another person’s livelihood or family, except as required by your role,
- Make expectations clear, and be consistent and fair with consequences if expectations aren’t met.
- Don’t fish for long. It never hurts to give someone an answer or show them the easy way to do it. Your people will make it complicated enough without your help.
- People will punish themselves more than you ever can, they are well-adjusted, or they don’t care. So leave it be, but watch your six.
- If you want something to happen, make it much easier than any likely alternative.
- Treat your people with dignity. Find something each subordinate did right, and recognize it. Tell them what it means to the team.
- You have fundamental obligation to the health (mental and physical) and the careers of everyone you are responsible for. That is what responsibility means.
- Your people are professionals. Always respect your subordinates and their expertise.
- Trust people to know their jobs, let them do their jobs, and dispassionately asses how they do them.
- Take stock of an established system before making changes. Don’t make changes for the sake of making changes.
- Take risks on people. Group expectations, pride, and professionalism are better motivators than power or profit.
- Tell people they are what you want them to be. Group expectations, pride, and professionalism are better motivators than power or profit.
- Take the good parts of what your subordinates say an use them, but always credit the person for giving you an idea, even if it was not their idea exactly. Group expectations, pride, and professionalism are better motivators than power or profit.
- Always acknowledge the contributions of your people.
- Group expectations, pride, and professionalism are better motivators than power or profit. Period.
- Manners never hurt: “please” is fine as long as it is understood that there is an expectation that will comply.
*Always default to accommodate diversity in every way, but try to find a reasonable balance that is sensitive to everyone’s needs. But…
- Don’t compromise what you hold most dear:
- Always thank people for doing their jobs.