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10 Laws for Leaders

  1. Give your team credit for the victories. Your team did the work. They did the heavy lifting. Take none of the credit, even when it was your idea and even when you worked harder than anyone. The victory belongs to your team.
  2. Take the blame for the mistakes, the missteps, and failures. Your team may have had their share of missteps, failures, and setbacks, but the responsibility is yours. Because you are their leader, you own the mistakes and failures. You take responsibility, and then you lead the team to better results.
  3. Invest as much time and energy as you possibly can in building relationships. If you want to get things done, invest your time in building relationships up and down your organization. Invest in building relationships with your clients and suppliers. You’ll need these relationships in the future, and you want strong relationships before you need strong relationships.
  4. Spend more time in informal meetings than required meetings. You will learn five times as much in informal meetings with the people who work for you than you will in formal meetings with the people for whom you work. If you want to understand where to find the roadblocks, obstacles, and bottlenecks that need your attention, directly meet with the people who don’t report to you directly.
  5. Your real shareholders are your employees and your clients. It is critical that you get things in the right order. The only real way to create shareholder value is to first take care of your employees and your customers. Get this right and the shareholders will have their returns. Get this wrong and they won’t.
  6. Create and protect a culture worth defending. Your people are going to be who you are. You create a culture worth defending by breathing purpose and values into everything you do and everything you say. You will have succeeded when the culture you create rejects anything and anyone that would destroy the purpose or values (not the people who will challenge how you realize that purpose).
  7. Say the same thing over and over again, especially when you believe you have said it too often. If you want people to believe, you have to say the same thing over and over again. You will feel like people are getting bored with what you say. You will feel like they want something new, like they need something new. They don’t. You just need to be more creative and find new ways of saying the same thing and new stories to tell.
  8. Build leaders. One of the main challenges you will face as a leader is identifying and building more leaders. Your role is necessarily to further the organization’s goals, and your legacy is going to be found in the people who can pick up and take the organization further than you did. Don’t worry about having a painting of you in the boardroom. Worry about all the portraits that come after yours. None of the faces that follow yours will be dependents; they’ll be leaders.
  9. Embrace the “new” new thing. If you want to doom your organization, the fastest way to do so is to resist change. A leader is a woman for the future. She sees around corners. She embraces and leads “what’s next.” You protect purpose and values; you embrace the new ideas, the new technologies, new trends, and new demands.
  10. Change when necessary, not because the calendar changed. You embrace the new and you change. But you do it when it is necessary, not just because the calendar flipped to a new year. You can’t whip your people from one new shiny object to the next. Much of the time, you will find that the reason your initiative failed isn’t because it wasn’t the right idea or stately but because it was poorly executed.


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