I have been thinking about leadership lately. This topic is a bit trite as there is abundant material available. I decided to outline my personal views on leadership for what it is worth.

I have never taken a class on leadership and have read few books on the subject. What I have learned has been through trial and many errors. In my early thirties, while working in my first management job, there was a time when I believed I possessed all the information and skills needed for leadership. After all, someone made me a manager, so I must be a leader.

My initial approach as a leader in the business world was to dictate direction based on my isolated personal view. It took me a while to realize that the role of a leader is not to dictate solutions but to utilize the entire team to deliver the best solution. During my time at Compaq, we operated with a process called “consensus management.” The idea was to create an environment where everyone could share their perspective. While “consensus management” is a great concept, care must be taken to ensure closure on a given topic.

After learning that I was not the smartest guy in the room and that I needed my entire team to be successful, I began focusing on how to pull the best solutions from the group. I quickly learned to lean on people with different personalities and thought processes than my own. I further leveraged this theme of diversity when hiring new team members.

Shown below is a bulleted list of my thoughts and learnings on leadership.

  • Character and ethics are fundamental tenants of leadership
  • Setting goals and objectives are critical
  • While following a consensus process is good, at some point, decisions must be made
  • Team members like giving input but also feel comfort that their leader has some idea of their destination and how to get there
  • Embrace change
  • Leadership and management are different
  • Leaders remove obstacles blocking success
  • Leaders understand how their company makes money and how their team contributes
  • Leaders serve as encouragers and cheerleaders
  • Never underestimate the power of encouragement
  • Leaders are visible and involved during tough times
  • Leaders are humble, especially when giving credit for success
  • Leaders are servants
  • Leaders must have technical knowledge regarding the subject at hand
  • Leaders should be kind and compassionate yet focused on results
  • Leaders must listen
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

I emphasized communication because it seems to be the core problem of most issues I have ever faced. When in doubt, communicate. Learn the best method for communication for a specific topic. There is a time to text, email, or call. Learn the appropriate use for each communication method.

In addition to the thoughts recorded above, my overriding advice is to be nice and kind to other people. I realize my view of leadership may appear simplistic based on all the books and courses available today, but these ideas have served me well in my career. Besides, this is about all I can remember at any given time.

Be that leader that others want to follow. Despite the apparent seriousness of the latest crisis, remember to have fun along the way.

Make the most of this day!