Leadership has never been an easy job, but it has gotten far more complicated and complex in today's much more complicated global society. And as technology continues to advance, and people's lives get busier and more distracted, this trend is sure to continue.

According to author Mark Miller, who serves as vice president of leadership development for Chick-fil-A, leadership is not unlike playing a game of chess. In his book Chess Not Checkers, Miller says, "The complexity of the problems we face and the organizations we lead has increased exponentially."

Miller continues, "The game of chess contains four specific parallels that can inform and transform any organization seeking new levels of performance." Give these four approaches a try as you work to up your own leadership game.

1. Bet on leadership

Growing leaders grow organizations, so it's to your advantage to select potential leaders early in their careers, and then invest in and develop them today into the great leaders that you'll need to grow tomorrow. Your capacity to grow determines your capacity to lead.

2. Act as one

Alignment multiplies impact, so everyone in the organization must be crystal clear on your purpose, mission, and values. Acting as one means getting everyone in the organization pulling in the same direction. As Mark Miller points out, "That's a prerequisite to unleash the full potential of your business. Getting everyone aligned can have a phenomenal impact on your performance."

3. Win the heart

Engagement energizes effort. Instead of trying to extract value from your people, instead do everything you can to foster their dreams. Doing this will add value to their lives. They will in turn be grateful to contribute to the organization, and to bring real value to you--and to your customers.

4. Excel at execution

Greatness hinges on execution. Any plan is only as good as how well it is executed. You can make all the plans you like, but if you can't execute them, then you can't succeed as a business--or as a leader. Says Miller, "If you don't execute, you will not win in business or in chess." To help your team improve execution, measure what matters most to your organization. To know how well you're executing, you've got to know the score.

Published on: Apr 13, 2015
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