For subscribers only

Three Key Elements to Improving Leadership

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

"You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, you need to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is one of your biggest advantages." - Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States

Outstanding leadership is the key to success. Excellent communication is the key to exceptional leadership. Think of any great leaders in modern times: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, and John F. Kennedy. They were influential leaders because they could inspire people to follow them. Their ability to articulate their vision made them successful in achieving their goals.

You must be the leader in your organization who inspires the team to great heights. To get them to follow you, be sure they listen to your values and vision, and then set up the right environment for them to thrive and grow.


When I mention values, everyone nods their heads as if, of course, Kerri, that is obvious. But, when I checked up on this piece, I found the last time they discussed their values personally and professionally with their team was often in the interview before their people were even hired.

You must know your personal and organizational values to lead effectively. For example, do the answers to these questions come readily to mind?


1. What do you stand for?
2. What is most important to you?
3. What would you like your life to prove?
4. What is your mission in life?


1. What do you stand for?
2. What are you willing to do to get new business?
3. What are you not willing to do?
4. Do you have a professional mission statement?

Quality leaders do not change their values over time or achieve short-term success. Consistent core organizational value systems form a solid foundation for long-term success.

A simple definition is that your values are the rules by which you play the game. A well-defined value system makes all decisions easier and encourages your team to go where you lead.


It is easy to say you have a vision for your business. It is your lifeblood. You know it inside out. Writing it down is the next step. Sharing it widely with your team is imperative too. Even more importantly, your vision for the business must supply a unifying picture so that everyone on the team, regardless of job function, can see precisely where you are going and the importance of their role in getting there. Therefore, the clearer the message's concept (i.e., short and simple), the more likely you and your team can achieve the goal. Your vision needs to answer three questions. And it must answer those three questions for everyone on the team.

1. What do we do?
2. How do we do it?
3. For whom do we do it?

As Jim Collins proved in his book, From Good to Great, this is not a 30-minute, one-meeting exercise. This requires 100% participation. It cannot be a top-down decision. It must be iterative and inclusive.


Andrew Carnegie said: You must capture and keep the heart of the original and supremely able man before his brain can do its best. When you understand what is at your team members' core, you can serve them and allow them to reach their full potential. Value their uniqueness. Your team members are your internal customers. You must treat them at least as well as your external customers. This is the highest level of customer service.

Shape the right work environment, and you will have loyal team members to lead. When you unleash personal creativity, each team member has a stake in the outcome. That means you must create a work environment that respects each person, appreciates them, rewards their effort, and encourages an openness to change. Make it a safe environment, one which enables trying innovative ideas. It is an environment that promotes growth at all levels. Combine all three elements, and you have a formula for inspiring greatness and leading to breakthrough success. Could you do it now?

Subscriber content only

To access this content and all of our unlimited content subscribe now