Best Leadership Advice of 2013
Your New Year's ResoultionsAlways Embrace Bad NewsDon't Be Pompous Promote a Unique DogmaGreat Leaders Embrace 'Feminine Qualities'Find More LeadersEmpower EmployeesMaster ForgivenessBuild Trust
Inc.'s most insightful columnists dished out great advice on how to be a better leader this year. In case you fell behind in your daily reading material, here's this year's most poignant pearls of wisdom to help you lead your start-up through the New Year.
Les McKeown, best-selling author and CEO of Predictable Success, advises that one of the worst things a leader can say is, “Don’t bring me any surprises.” Guess what happens when you tell people not to bring you bad news? A ticking time bomb waits for you to find it after it’s too late. Train your employees to bring you bad news when it breaks.
There are certain words that you should never describe yourself with while writing on your company's website or on social media. Jeff Haden, leadership expert and columnist, says you should never describe yourself with hacky clichés, overblown superlatives, and breathless adjectives like "global provider," "authority," "passionate," "curator" or "innovative." "Never take credit for things you are supposed to do--or be," Haden says.
Every great leader has their own dogma, a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. Kevin Daum, Inc. 500 entrepreneur and best-selling author, says that every successful leader--from Steve Jobs to Warren Buffet--promote a distinct philosophy. "Leaders must have unbending principles that guide them and their companies, or people will simply take any path that suits them," he says.
Leigh Buchanan, editor at large for Inc. magazine, says the days of uber-masculine and commanding leaders are over. Multiple studies have shown female leaders out-perform their male counter parts. "Control is a mirage. The most effective leaders right now--men and women--are those who embrace traits once considered feminine: Empathy. Vulnerability. Humility. Inclusiveness. Generosity. Balance. Patience," she says.
Successful leaders need help to manage their employees. Marc Barros, co-founder and former CEO of Contour, says this ability to find new leaders can be crystalized in one interview question: "Tell me about the last person you fired." Barros explains if the candidate, "'I haven't fired anyone,' it's obvious this person's a bad fit. You can't build a great team without occasionally deconstructing and rebuilding it. And while every leader makes mistakes, if he can't admit, correct, or move on from them, you don't want him or her at your start-up," he writes.
Entrepreneurs founding their own companies may know how to be effective managers, but it takes a few secrets to be an effective leader, says Peter Economy, the bestselling author of more than 60 leadership books. He says his four secrets to “awesome leadership” are to know how to energize employees to be productive, empower staff by encouraging growth within a constructive work environment, support and "shield employees from the fallout of organizational politics and avoid blaming individuals for failure," and communicate thoughtfully and listen actively.
Leading is easy when everything is going as planned. But when your leadership ability is tested--when an employee wrongs you or fails horribly--you need to have already mastered the skill of forgiveness, entrepreneur and bestselling author Kevin Daum says. "The leader who can forgive and rebuild the trust and confidence of the team is the leader who can overcome any challenge or obstacle," he says.
Building trust between you and your employees is the best way to get them to work hard. Geoffrey James, the author of the world's most-read sales-oriented blog "Sales Source on Inc.com," says in order to win their trust you need to coach, not command; tell the truth; follow through; take blame but give credit; don't badmouth; walk the talk; and listen more and talk less.