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Simple Leadership Basics

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better. - Bill Bradley

A great cloud of jargon, debate and junk theory surrounds the idea of leadership, what it is, who does it, and how to do it well. But if you have just been promoted and you manage a group for the first time, there are only a few things you need to know about leadership.

When you get promoted and become responsible for the performance of a group, you become a leader. But you do not undergo magical change. It will take you over a year to completely adjust to your new role.

You are a leader because the people in your group treat you like one. The only choice you have is what kind of job you will do.
When you become a leader, your power goes down. As an individual contributor, you must decide to work harder, longer, or more intelligently to improve performance. When you manage the performance of a group, the group is your destiny. They choose whether to act or not.

When you become a leader, your influence goes up. The people who work for you pay attention to what you say and do. They adjust their behavior accordingly.

You use your behavior (what you say and do) to influence the behavior of the people who work for you to achieve a defined aim.

Achieving the aim is part of your job as a leader. The other part is caring for your people.

It may be possible to achieve good short-term results without caring for your people. But you cannot achieve long-term success for yourself or your company without the willing cooperation of the best folks you can find.

You can measure your leadership based on those two standards. Did we conduct the mission? Are the members of my group better off today than yesterday?

You can learn more about all of this and understand it effortlessly from my book, Performance Talk: The One-on-One Part of Leadership.

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