My personal and simple leadership principles
- Posted on July 7, 2014
I recently read Bob Knowling ‘s very personal and touching book “You can get there from here” which really made me reflect about a lot of things I take for granted. About the same time, I came across an interesting article from Doug Sundheim from Harvard Business Review outlining his personal take on leadership principles. This inspired me to reflect on my own personal journey and try to summarize my own leadership principles, and to do this in less than 15 minutes to make it honest and direct rather than a well-crafted and sterile analysis . These may come across as pompous clichés, but they are very personal to me, following my latest pivotal experience as Avanade’s new CTIO where I’ve had to take on a, for me, whole new level of responsibility. In a few weeks, I’ve had to go from a regional role which I knew well, to a global role with many unknowns and a lot of “firsts”, in parallel with relocating my family overseas and becoming a father.
These are my five principles, as influenced by this experience:
- Accept that leadership (and management) is situational and who you need to be changes frequently.
- As a manager, you set and explain the target, and support your team to achieve it.
- As a leader, you point through the fog towards the general direction, motivate the team to define the precise goal and coach them to reach the destination.
- As a leader of leaders, your mission is to ensure the environment and the vision is in place for other leaders to consistently and scalably rise to the occasion and make point #2 happen without your involvement.
- The most efficient and consistent path to top results is to enable others to be even more successful than yourself. Let your colleagues, teams and partners succeed. Help them to take the front stage and to be the heroes. This also applies to customers: making your customer famous rather than using the customer to make you famous.
- The only certainty is uncertainty and change. Help people unlearn and re-learn at least as much as they learn. (Alvin Toffler’s books are an inspiration for me in this respect)
- Chasing yearly and quarterly results is important, but being true to yourself and to the legacy you want to leave behind is more fundamental. As a leader, you have the privilege and the responsibility to build something positive, which will stand the test of time. Don’t waste that opportunity.
- For everyday decisions follow your head, your heart and your gut-feeling. In that order. For really big decisions, it is the other way around.
Now comes the “tiny” challenge of always executing on these principles in a consistent manner - and the only way to get better is practice and experience. I would love to hear about your own personal leadership principles, experiences and advice.