4 Leadership Principles that Really Work

We receive so many messages through email, text messaging and social media that it can be overwhelming — but some of them are really good.

For instance, someone recently forwarded me an article by Ryan Holiday (author of books such as “Ego is the Enemy and “The Obstacle Is the Way”). It was called “38 Leadership Principles for The Greatest Business, Military, Political and Sports Leaders.” It’s a good read, and I recommend checking out the whole piece when you have time.

All 38 of the principles Holiday shared are great, but a few of them really resonated with me. Here are those that I’d like to emphasize from many years as a coach and leader.

A Leader is a Learner

A leader should always be pushing to learn more about their job, their company, their industry and other topics to improve their leadership and results.

Back in my twenties, I worked for an aircraft company, and I got interested in building aircraft out of titanium. It was then a new, exotic metal, and I discovered a wealth of information about fabricating and assembling an aircraft from titanium at the Battelle Memorial Institute. That knowledge elevated me in the company. I’ve continued to practice the strategy of continuous learning all my career, even now.

I urge you to keep current and expose yourself to out-of-the-box, uncommon and new ideas. They may help set you apart in your career.

A Leader Does the Right Thing, Even if it Holds Them Back

As a leader, sometimes doing what’s right can hurt — but that shouldn’t keep you from taking the high road.

Many years ago, U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. spoke to a gathering of our management and corporate teams, and he shared two main principles that have stuck with me: always do what’s right, and keep moving forward.

I’ve done my best to stay true to those two principles because like General Schwarzkopf and many leaders, I believe that integrity is critical.

How can people follow you if they can’t trust what you say is honest and consistent with how you go about your job?  And, if you don’t do what you say you will do, why should anyone follow?

A Leader is Humble

A leader recognizes that they get things done with and through others.

When you listen to others on your team, they will learn to trust you. I see far too much ego in some leaders; they make everything about them rather than about the team.

Real success is achieved by helping others get what they want in work and life. Set your ego aside and achieve better results by leading others to reach a common goal.

A Leader Thinks Long-Term

As a leader, you must keep one eye on the present, on what matters now. But you also need to focus the other eye on what’s next, and what will help get you there.

This probably means you need to get better at delegating, and at creating room in your day and on your calendar, so that you can spend time thinking long-term. Where are you headed, what will it take to get you there and what adjustments or changes are required? Thinking ahead more will help you get there.

What This Means For You

Those aren’t the only principles that a leader should follow, but following them will undoubtedly make you a better leader. I hope this list showed you where your leadership is thriving and where you’d like to improve.

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