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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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Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Whoever first said it (there’s an argument over that), Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, did it. In 2008, he invited a dozen of his fiercest critics to dinner. Because of the evening, LeBlanc and his dissidents now have a “reasonably affable working relationship.”

Did the entire first decade of the 21st century pass without your company getting serious about online marketing? If your organization doesn’t have an online strategy to speak of—no web site or a skimpy one, no social-media strategy, no e-mail list, no e-newsletter—you can still catch up. Marketing expert Seth Godin recommends venturing forward with these strategies:

Think like an inventor by looking for opportunity in failure. British inventor James Dyson says that in trying to develop a fine blade of high-speed air for another product, his team accidentally came up with new hand-dryer technology ... Nail the solution to a problem by defining the problem ... Give better feedback with the "puppy theory," says Carol Bartz, chief executive of Yahoo ...

High-performance leaders revolutionize their roles by changing the dynamic between leader and follower: Not only do they hold team members accountable for results, but they themselves expect to be held accountable by team members. Being held accountable requires a thick skin and brave employees willing to offer honest feedback.

Mike Figliuolo’s favorite part of being a tank platoon leader was taking his men on a tank gunnery exercise. But a new soldier who transferred into his platoon flouted rules, took a sloppy approach and lacked fire in the belly. No amount of yakking helped—but a 7UP did ...

John S. Barry staked his entire claim on WD-40 and the motto of keeping it simple. When he took over his father-in-law's small company—$1 million in annual sales—he made it smaller, chopping the product line to one and renaming the company after that product: WD-40. Then … no changes—for 25 years. While his strategy seems simple, it’s actually pretty savvy:

In difficult economic times like these, employers try everything they can to wring greater productivity and profits from employees and work processes. It’s not easy. There’s often resistance from employees who have grown accustomed to doing things the same way they always have. And some of the most intransigent of those employees may be your older workers—and that means potential for legal trouble.

It’s tough to manage people who hate making decisions. Your patience may wane as these worrywarts skirt issues.

Resistance to change is one of the hardest things to face, and follow-through one of the hardest things to do. It’s easy to become defensive about changes—you risk running off track, rolling over skeptics, losing goodwill or ignoring red flags. To manage resistance, follow these steps:

The first time Lloyd C. Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, was put in charge of something—the foreign exchange business—the business started losing money right away. Even by the standards of the day, it wasn’t much money. But it meant a lot to Blankfein. Nervous as hell, he went to his boss ...

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