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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The good, old-fashioned focus group isn’t going away, but leaders are increasingly finding that they can bolster their companies’ R&D efforts by using social media strategies. Take a cue from leaders in the auto industry who use social media to engage with customers:
Understanding the distinction between power and leadership—how leaders use power to accomplish things—is the work of historian Robert Caro. In his books on President Lyndon Johnson, Caro shows that power doesn’t corrupt so much as it reveals: When you amass enough power, it reveals what you’ve really wanted all along.
You probably didn’t know that in 1937, a horse fell on musical genius Cole Porter, crushing his legs. Through 35 operations and chronic pain, he retained a keen sense of humor and found inspiration everywhere.
Sometimes, it takes a miracle to hold an organization (or yourself) together, and sometimes, that miracle turns out to be extremely hard to maintain.
One way to hang onto your optimism is to have a plan in the event of a worst-case scenario. As Winston Churchill did, have a backup plan in place because you might just need it.
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.”

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