Cyclists at this year’s Tour de France proved you don’t have to be the “leader” to dazzle people with your leadership skills. Teammates on one team acted like leaders when they helped propel one of their fellow cyclists to win six stages of the race.
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.
Alden Mills, founder of Perfect Fitness, received his most valuable business lessons while serving in the Navy SEALS—how to practice unconventional warfare, how to keep going even when the race is over and why you should always take along a swim buddy. One lesson he got later, though, was going with your gut.
At Google, anyone can be a leader—or at least act like one. The result is that anyone can be more effective, get more done, influence the process and support an innovative environment. To teach leadership to 20,000 employees, says Evan Wittenberg, head of global leadership development, Google leans on a few principles:
Too many leaders base hiring decisions on education and credentials alone. They fail to consider “softer” questions, such as: Is the candidate a visionary? Does the applicant think in a conceptual way? To help sharpen your focus, here are five questions to ask during job interviews:
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. “We saw, in that moment of failure, an idea that had huge advantages in another field,” he says.
Mindful of his fast rise, Matt Mullenweg has given some thought to leadership. The idiosyncratic 25-year-old founded Automattic, parent company of the blogging tool WordPress, which powers 12 million blogs. Some of his priorities:
The Washington Redskins’ hiring of an “offensive consultant” looked to some like a pure play to undermine the head coach. The Redskins owner rationalized that his hired hand was “another pair of eyes.” That only works, though, if the coach wants another set of eyes. Since that wasn’t the case, the owner appeared to be perpetuating infighting and chaos. Result? A case of “toxic management.”
Real leaders aren’t talkers; they’re doers. For example: They delegate, but what they don’t delegate is the one thing that matters. That task they do ...
Dump this worst “best” practice, 360º anonymous feedback, advises Susan Scott, author of Fierce Leadership. “Anonymous feedback doesn’t tell us what we really need to know and leaves us wondering, ‘Who thinks that about me?!’” she says. Instead, exchange feedback face-to-face as soon as possible after something occurs.
Effective leaders spend 60 percent of their time solving problems, while average leaders spend less than 30 percent of their time fixing what’s broken. That’s why breaking free from the confines of bureaucratic systems to resolve conflicts and produce meaningful results is a key characteristic of an organizational leader. Here are a few problem-solving scripts for those difficult employee discussions: