How (NOT) to Be a Leader – Follow the Leader

This week we continue the serialization of, How (NOT) to Be a Leader Volume 1, in preparation for the release of the next two books, How (NOT) to Build a Great Team and How (NOT) to Create a Winning Strategy. We hope you will enjoy Chapter 19 – Follow the Leader

Sent: Tuesday, July 25 at 11:30
From: CEO
To: Executive Team
Subject: Best Practices

Attached is the most lovely note that I received from a valued client after our award ceremony the other night. I honestly was not expecting the award at all (especially at my own company event—you guys are too much, thank you!) let alone this gracious note.

It goes to show you how important hand‑written notes and personal gestures are. I’m glad I took the time to send them and I hope you do too. I expect you to learn from this example.

Sharing your insights with the team is important. Of course, it doesn’t always mean that they will follow them, but you have to try or at least give the impression that you are trying. You can’t help it if some of them are rather dim and don’t get it.

But, in the event that you have a few lemmings who can actually learn from your exam­ple, it’s tactics like these that need to be shared and emulated. After all, duplicity multiplies and then you’re doing more with much less!

As an example, when attending events that are in your honor (as they should be if you’re attending), make sure that you follow up thoughtfully. While you don’t have time to be thoughtful, there must be someone on your staff who can help you appear thoughtful at all times. One way to accomplish this is to have your assistant write hand‑written thank you notes, sign your name, and send them off in a timely manner. You might be surprised by the heart‑warming response you get in turn—notes of gratitude for your gratitude and exemplary leadership and thoughtfulness. How this was executed is not the point. Like they say, “It’s the thought that counts,” and it was your idea, so there you go.

Make sure to get your whole team together when something like this happens, never let them get out of learning from your excellent example of leadership. It’s important to give everyone a very detailed account of how you did this and why it succeeded. It’s also important to set a new precedent and require that your people do what you did.

Your values and integrity should always be on display for others to emulate—includ­ing the tactics you use to display them. If this means shortcuts, leveraging the talents of others, taking credit for results generated from the innovation of others, or just appearing to be more thoughtful or resourceful than you actually are, share these tactics! Everyone will benefit from your knowledge and wisdom. And don’t be stingy with that amazing assis­tant of yours: once your team understands the value of this type of administrative support, they should all have access to it. He or she will simply have to understand that they are new to the game, and the charades just go with the internship.

Let’s Get Real

It’s as true as it is timeless: Great leaders lead by example. The upside of a leader who sets a good example is that, when the values he or she lives are right and good, they are multiplied and amplified so powerfully that an organization’s brand can become known for its values. And not surprisingly, when a leader leads by example with values that lack integrity or honesty or that are just downright awful, the result is exactly the same: an am­plification and multiplication of that same despicable behavior runs rampant throughout the organization, damages the brand, and becomes a firewall keeping good people and talent at bay.

Leadership is infectious, in both the most positive and potentially disastrous ways imaginable. It’s your job as a leader to make sure that you lead by the kind of behavior you want to permeate your organization and out into the marketplace. As the leader you are the keeper, the steward, the guardian, and the master of those values, so make sure you live them every day in every way.

Download this chapter for free – How (NOT) to Be a Leader – Chapter 19

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