I have a problem with most conventional leadership advice.
So, I thought I would put together a compilation of the leadership tips I've learned along the way. Some are simply paradoxical in nature, and some are purely just things I never thought would be true and had to learn the hard way!
I hope they help in your journey.
1. Knowing too much kills your imagination.
This one caught me off guard early in my leadership career. What I didn't realize is that my historical references and experiences on what works and what doesn't work could constrain my thinking.
Get unconventional fresh eyes from those without that baggage. You'll be surprised what you find out.
2. Leverage your strengths, but taken to an extreme, they become weaknesses.
For instance, being extremely precise can prevent you from accepting anyone else's work if it's not perfect, which prevents you from finishing anything. That includes your own work. Perfect really is the enemy of done.
3. Strict plans kill big ideas.
If your plan is to pick up a dime on the other side of a room, and you see a quarter nearby, sticking to your plan prevents you from getting the quarter.
So, by all means, make a plan. But leave a little bit of room in your plan to find the quarter.
4. Vulnerability is strength.
Not only is telling your staff you don't know something often true, but telling them otherwise will eventually prove you wrong, leading to mistrust. Leave yourself open to ideas and imagination that you would never come up with on your own. Know that you don't know.
5. The entire org has to win, not just you.
Every department has a number to optimize; optimizing each separately seldom optimizes the entire organization.
6. If it worked last time, don't assume it will work next time.
To know the future, learn the past; for future effectiveness, unlearn the past. History doesn't repeat itself, though it often rhymes.
To my previous point about strict plans, know that you can't predict exactly what's going to happen. Leave yourself open to a new direction when it's presented to you.
7. Think big, but always take care of today.
Keep the ultimate vision in mind; take dead aim on today's task. It took us eight years to land on the moon after JFK first announced his plan to go there.
Thinking big is essential, but companies don't run on big thinking; they run on the quality of execution today.
8. The more weaknesses you discover, the better.
The more weaknesses you identify, the happier you should become, because you now have the ability to improve more.
The key is to identify your weaknesses, not ignore them.
9. To be lucky, you must earn it.
The more formidable your expertise, the luckier you get, in that others notice and provide you with more opportunities. So earn it first, and wait for the luck to come your way.
10. The fewer decisions you must make, the more decisions you can make.
When you clog up your brain making too many decisions, even if they're small decisions, you don't have any capacity left to make the most important decisions. So leave most of the decisions to your team, so you can think more conceptually and creatively about the future.
Iterate incrementally on your core idea to detect the potential for game-changing initiatives. Keep moving!
11. Big ideas come from little moves done furiously.
In the end, we must evolve. Every day, my business evolved, and every day I evolved.
Therefore, I ran a new business every day. New businesses create ever-changing opportunities. Nothing gets stagnant, including ideas and people. People often leave companies because of a bad supervisor or because they get bored.
With a new business every day, work is never boring. The only people who leave that type of business, assuming they're reasonably compensated and did not leave because of extenuating circumstances, are those who cannot keep up.
The takeaway: Some of these ideas are more unconventional than others. The key to understanding real leadership is that the game is always changing, and what's obvious to others may not be obvious to you.
Remember, if you're just like everyone else, you'll never be better than anyone else. My best wishes to you in thinking unconventionally.