Are you a boss? Are you a leader? Are there people who look to you for direction?

If so, please hold on just a minute; maybe skip down a few paragraphs to where it says: "Now, for the bosses."

Because first, I need to talk with everyone else.

I'm writing this article as a public service for people whose bosses need to work on their leadership skills.

Maybe they're likable. Maybe they try. Maybe they don't. 

Regardless, they're not giving you and other team members what you need to be successful.

What do you do in that case? Some bosses might welcome honest feedback.

But maybe your boss isn't like that. Even if so, it's hard to know exactly what to say.

That's where this article comes in. Bookmark it. Save it. 

Share it as needed with the bosses in your life, hopefully in a spirit of constructive criticism.

It's organized by number. You can even tell whomever you send it to something like, "You do a great job on 1-7," for example, "but we'd really appreciate it if you'd try harder on 8 and 9."

(Whatever the case may be.)

If you don't feel comfortable sending it with your name attached, you can share it anonymously. Use a throwaway email account, or even print it out and leave it.

If you're up for it, let me know afterward what happens, and if your boss or other leader takes it to heart.

Now, for the bosses.

If you've been sent this article, it's because somebody on your team wants you to succeed. 

But they know you can't do it alone, and they want to help.

I suspect you want to be a better leader too, and so I hope you'll take it in the constructive spirit in which it's intended.

Here are some of the areas they might want to ask you to concentrate on -- the things that all great leaders aspire to do.

1. Identify worthy goals.

One of the important things any leader can do is to identify objectives that are worthy of his or her team's time and effort. Then, stay focused on them, and communicate them effectively. Remember: If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. If everything is urgent, nothing is urgent.

2. Don't distract from those goals.

Having identified your priorities, try not to distract from them -- even casually. For example, don't tell everyone that Objective A is the key priority, and then make off-the-cuff observations about how you wish people would focus on Objective B or Objective C. That's a recipe for confusion.

3. Ask good questions.

If you're presented with a problem, ask questions. If you're asked for advice, ask questions. Asking questions forces you to gather information before replying, rather than going with your immediate reaction. Second, it shows respect and engagement -- and maybe helps your team members come up with solutions on their own. 

4. Remember names.

Obviously, remember your employees' names and team members' names. But also: Make an effort to remember their families' names, their birthdays, their life circumstances. If you have to take notes, take notes. People will notice that you remember these details. And they'll really notice if you don't.

5. Focus on respect (over likability).

Respect goes two ways: Show it for your team members, but also strive to inspire respect from them. Don't confuse being respected with being liked or feared. They're not at all the same things.

6. Celebrate wins (individual and team).

Nobody wants to be on a team where the only reward for good work is more work. Celebrate wins, big and small: It can be a 30-second congratulations on a Zoom call or a full-blown celebration, but you need to mark the milestones.

7. Share information.

The more transparent a leader can be, and the more he or she can share information, the better. Remember, this isn't simply about not keeping unnecessary secrets; it's also making the communicative effort -- demonstrating that sharing information is a true priority.

8. Show respect and make decisions.

Show respect for people's time, for their expertise, and for their worth as human beings. And be decisive. Don't leave people hanging around, waiting for your direction. That only creates unproductive anxiety.

9. Fix bad decisions.

Remember rule No. 1 about strategic priorities? Stick with them -- unless or until it's clear that they're mistakes. The same thing applies in hiring. If you've made a mistake, fix it as cleanly and quickly as you can. In most cases, bad decisions don't improve with age.

10. Act ethically.

Your words and actions will set the tone. Granted, people have different ethical standards; they might disagree in good faith on what's the right choice in some situations. But at least demonstrate that behaving ethically is something you care about.

11. Focus on results.

Processes are important. But try to avoid following process for the sake of it. In the end, you all want results: As long as they're achieved ethically and productively, keep your focus there.

12. Create the right culture.

As an organization grows, the key tool that any leader has in guiding it is to create the right culture. Develop it collaboratively with your key team members, and refer back to it often. 

13. Know when to push, and when to back off. 

Sometimes a leader or a boss can motivate someone with kind but firm criticism: "I know you can do better." (In fact, that's what an employee who sends this link to a leader is trying to say.) But it's a fine line. Smart leaders develop enough emotional intelligence to know when to back off, too.

14. Write things down.

Do this for two reasons: first, so that you and your team can reflect back on decisions that you've made and priorities that you've set, by reviewing the record. And second, because the act of writing helps you think things through more effectively.

15. Create routines.

Routines can be a force multiplier, as long as they don't substitute for creativity. For example, don't leave a team member wondering when he or she will get a chance to talk with you; far better to establish a standing check-in, say, every Wednesday at 11 a.m. (or whenever).

16. Share credit, but take blame.

People have a very human need to know that their contributions are valued and appreciated. So be proactive and seek out opportunities to give credit to others. But when things go wrong, remember: The leader has to shoulder the consequences.

17. Express gratitude.

If you're the leader, you have a lot to be grateful for. Maybe start by thanking whoever sent you this link. They want you to succeed, and the fact that you've read this far tells me you want to succeed too. Now it's up to you to follow through.