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Best-Practices Leadership

A leader in an organization can’t do everyone’s job. Instead of micromanaging, strong leaders use organizational leadership to coordinate, communicate, motivate and delegate among employees and team members. For comprehensive organizational effectiveness, each individual needs to be seen as a contributor, with the leader at the helm.

Most importantly, best-practices leadership involves keeping employees motivated throughout the process, adapting your scope or strategy as necessary, and developing an effective communication strategy.

Some people never make it to the other side because they’re more successful at being doers. This is a crucial point in determining if you’re going to move up the ranks.

Browse our articles, tools and advice on best-practices leadership.

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Pandora, the free Internet radio that plays music specifically suited to your taste, continues to grow like a weed, with practically every metric skyrocketing. Pandora founder Tim Westergren says, "When you’re a small company, what you lack in scale you have to make up for by being a step ahead of the competition. Innovation is an absolute cornerstone of our company."
Shortly after Alan Mulally joined Ford in 2006, he convened a staff meeting and asked, "Guys, is there anything that’s not going well?” He had given the signal that he wanted to hear the realities of the business, and with that, the company culture shifted. The CEO’s practice of having painful, reality-based conversations has paid off.
As the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted and spewed ash across the North Atlantic, all of Europe’s air space was forced to close, grounding hundreds of flights. Heathrow Airport was a mass of confusion and anger, but British Airways swung quickly into action.

Any time you look at only the successes, you will have skewed results. Leaders must look beyond “survivorship bias” at a larger body of leadership research. Good leaders focus on where the bullet holes are; great leaders consider where they aren’t.

Lately, Gianfranco Zaccai spends his time lying in a hospital bed. He’s not sick; he’s researching ideas for a health care client. As president at Continuum, Zaccai knows that he and his staff find the best ideas when they’re observing clients or putting them­­selves in clients’ shoes. He insists that staffers “go to where the lion is hunting, not the zoo.”

Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos wants us to think long term. The company was founded in 1994, listed in 1997, but didn’t post profit until 2001. His company isn’t the only one to get off to a slow start:

The reason Taco Bell's admin team came up with its "Team of Two" training program is clear when you listen to admin Karen Walters describe managers in her building. "There were a few managers in the group who maybe weren't using admins to their greatest capabilities," explains Walters. "In their defense, they didn't have a good model." So the admin team decided to give them one...

At some point within the next decade, leaders of both large and small companies will have to make a strategic bet, perhaps even several. That’s why leaders must have the ability to see the need for a game-changing move and seize the moment. Do you have the fortitude for it?

At work, numbers speak volumes. If you can’t show, quantitatively, that something is improving, then how can you really know it’s improving? It’s not surprising, then, that more admins are being asked to set SMART goals—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals—to be evaluated against.

About 95% of the decisions a CEO makes could be made by an intelligent high school graduate, says speaker and author John C. Maxwell. It’s the remaining 5% that they get paid for. Those are the tough calls, and the way a leader handles them is what separates him from everyone else.
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