Thoughts on Leadership

My current role has taught me a ton about interpersonal relationships… professional/managerial/working relationships are way different than friend relationships, because there are power dynamics and expectations involved.

I feel like I talk about culture a lot… but it’s this key concept that I needs deep understanding… it’s central to organizational cohesion/success/focus.

The leaderships… always creates the culture. They promote it or inhibit it.

A manager can create super effective sub cultures within the organization even if the executive leadership is poor… but only if the executive leadership empowers it/allows it.

Building culture is can be intentional or unintentional.

But to build the best team, it needs to be intentional.

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

True leaders are those who establish the culture through excellence.

They raise the bar.

They set the tone.

They create standards.

They model excellence.

Bonding on a human level, on a personal level, and getting to know their values/needs, is a critical aspect to increasing engagement and buy in. This includes feeling included, cared for.

We all want to belong.

It’s amazing how effective people can be when they feel they have a stake, that the group is a reflection of them and their identity.

Focusing attention on what do to, the right things, the correct things, praising and emphasizing and encourage these…

Not focusing on what’s wrong, pointing at the problem.

Solution focused.


Giving attention.

Asking relevant questions about them, their values and needs.

Requires time and work, but produces engagement.

And buy in.

Vision is a central aspect to culture. Having a clear end or purpose or aim.

And having a clear method or process, in steps of steps or quality or ethic etc.

Everyone can be a leader and create culture. Everyone can influence.

Creating a narrative about a state of being that is compelling and believable

Maybe this is all common sense, but it’s worth reiterating.

Also, identifying people’s strengths and weaknesses… learning not to push them into things they’re weak at or don’t feel comfortable doing.

Learning to identify where they excel and giving them/finding opportunities to do those things… the most success they have there, the more willingness and confidence they’ll have to do other things they may be weaker at. Gives them more confidence

Some people are hired for a job and have responsibilities outlined in their job description, but they just may not be the best fit overall. Doesn’t mean they can’t add value. Assuming they are staying with the team, it’s easier to find area they do excel then pushing them to do the things they aren’t great at. Just accepting them where they are, and see them as a developing person

Communication… constant communication… repetitive communication… builds culture.

Meetings are fine, but as a manager, regular one on one conversations… rearticulating the vision and values.

Saying something once is not enough 99% of the time. In a perfect world yes, but until there is confidence that there is perfect alignment, that vision and expectations are matched, the message needs to be said over and over again, like propaganda and advertising. Not saying the message the same way, but many different ways. Providing plenty of examples so the context is elaborated and connections are drawn.

Culture is about conditioning. Condition behaviors.

Walking through thought processes. Proper thought processes you want them to internalize. The theme is: “This is how you should think about this activity”, until they internalize this dialog and can operate to these standards autonomously.

Reinforce positive behaviors, and ignore negative ones.

Wherever the attention is drawn to reinforces that point.

Always draw attention to the desire outcome, not to the undesired outcome.

Praise small wins. Build people up and praise positive efforts in front of the team and others.

Treat them as the should be, talk about them as they should be, to themselves and others.. not as they are or aren’t.

People will live up to these ideas.

Most organizational dysfunction comes down to poor or miscommunication.

Gather feedback. Listen. Then adjust the message. Never assume people understand, even if they verbalize they do or recite back to you.

Watch their behaviors/activity and listen to how they think about those activity.

The onus and responsibility for an effective team always comes back to the management/leadership.

Never assume it’s an individual’s lack of desire or competency.

Always take responsibility for ensuring the right outcomes. The manager is always responsible.

If you have a message that needs to be understood, the manager is responsible for ensuring it’s being received.

If the audience doesn’t understand, it’s the speaker who doesn’t understand who he’s talking to and how to communicate in a way they understand. Tailor the message. This requires listening. Paying attention to their needs and values.

Their background. Their prior experience.

Always highlight what people do right.

It’s rarely productive to focus on what’s wrong. This is only productive is establishing the context and grounds for a solution and proper action. And usually this is only necessary with other management, to provide a status update of the current challenges.

Your team will never ever ever work harder than you.

If they do, consider it a blessing. And shortlived. It’s an exception.

We look to leadership as a role model.

We will always be more active and engaged and have more responsibilities than those we manage.

You want to set a standard they can strive for.

A manager should be able to do the job of everyone he manages.

And he should be able to do it better than them, if given the opportunity.

Leaders know the way, go the way, and show the way.

This is how effective culture is created.

Being able to do the job of everyone you manage is critical for understating their needs and challenges and the context they with within.

This is the only way you can provide valuable feedback and guidance

If you don’t understand the needs, you can’t add value

You’ll speak in platitudes that fail to resonate and build trust and engagement

Always be proactive. Anticipate needs.

Never reactive.

You cannot lead if you are reactive.

Being proactive is setting the tone. Asking the questions. Establishing the baseline. Keeping your thumb on the pulse.

It’s easier to steer clear of challenges than it is to fix a problem after it occurs.

Being proactive ensures preparedness.

Allows you to formulate and communicate the plan, and maintain a clear vision.

A plan is a living document. It’s the mission. It accounts for the landscape, the map of the business terrain.

The leader ensures this map is updated and communicated: Roles and responsibilities and objectives and tasks.

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