How to Shape a Simple Leadership Strategy - And Make It Effective

The topic of leadership is one of those complex, abstract concepts that easily fills 300-400 pages in a business leader's book. However, the simplification of complex or abstract concepts into a widely understood message is what these business leaders- who are communicators at their core- strive for.

As a former junior military officer interested in the topic of leadership and thrust into a role that demanded quickly navigating its dynamics, I realized that I needed a set of leadership principles to apply in my professional life. Thus, this author's five principles of leadership follow:

1. Have a decisive plan- What good is a leader that specifies no clear direction? The solution- plan, plan, plan, then make a decision. A non-decision often is as detrimental as a bad decision. Who cares if you have to implement a mid-course adjustment if things aren't going as planned? Staying the course despite indications your plan is not working is for fools; swallowing your pride, adjusting the plan, and then forging ahead is for leaders. And what if you don't have a plan? Improvise while you work towards a plan. Never let your colleagues know that you didn't have one in place. Otherwise, your credibility is about as solid as that want to-be that refuses to adjust.

2. Set priorities- Priorities are pivotal. They let your people know how they contribute to the team and plan, which constantly reinforces the plan. Like the plan itself, priorities can change, but be clear why they're doing so.

3. Listen to your people- Shut your mouth, perk up your ears, and gather as much input as possible. Being the boss with the corner office doesn't mean that the best ideas originate from that corner office. Actually, the best ideas eventually end up in the corner office, but they get there by hopping a ride on your people as they stop in to share them.

4. Respect your people- It's terrible that this one has to be a part of the 5 principles, but it must be said.

5. Take care of your people- Learn more about your people in general. Be genuinely interested in their personal lives, for it may affect their professional one. Learn what motivates your people. Is a pat on the back enough or do they need frequent public recognition? Investing in the care of your people will pay off ten-fold and you will be truly viewed as a leader.

This article's title has a phrase after the hyphen and it would be remiss to conclude without first addressing the effectiveness of this leadership strategy. It certainly has been successful for me. Two team of the quarter awards, one team of the year award, best team performance in over 4 years all demonstrate the value in following these principles.

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