The Leadership Mind Switch: Rethinking How We Lead In the New World of Work by D. A. Benton and Kylie Wright-Ford

4. Good Leaders Start as Good Followers

  • The question here is what makes leaders want to invest in an individual. The first thing you need to be if you want to be a successful leader is to be a good follower. Good followers have an impeccable work ethic, are trustworthy, show self-confidence with zero arrogance, and are easy to be around. As for work ethic, it is the backbone of success. Good followers take initiative, get results, and find a niche where they can excel. Hard workers ask questions in order to learn. They look for reasons things can be done rather than reasons why they can’t be done.
  • If you are consistent in getting things done and doing what you say you are going to do you will be seen as trustworthy. Proving you are trustworthy takes time. Collect evidence of your accomplishments, but don’t brag. Avoid ego and pride and model humility. As for being easy to be around a sense of humor helps. Being nice to everyone will also earn support from below.

5. The Ups and Downs of Being a Leader

  • Good leaders prioritize mentoring. They need to mentor others and seek their own mentors. As you mentor you will gain more followers. Be sure to surround yourself with people who can do things better than you as you have a view of replacing yourself in the future. This will make you seem self-confident. Your job is to create more leaders and this will be part of your ultimate legacy. Don’t shy away from problems, run towards them. Being a leader is cool and if you take it seriously enough the rewards will outweigh the costs.

Part Two: Management, Leadership, or Both? 6. Basic Leadership Responsibilities

  • Hiring: You will have imperfect information. The goal is to find people who are result oriented and oriented towards outcomes. Look for the skills your team currently lacks. Beware the tendency of hiring people like yourself. Let candidates know how they can contribute and show them the opportunities for growth. You need a disciplined process and a diverse hiring team.
  • Firing: This is never easy. When making these decisions keep the long-term interests of your organization in mind. Some of this may result from positions becoming obsolete. Social media mistakes may lead to some dismissals. Try to have a generous severance policy and help people find new paths. Keep the circumstances strictly confidential. Being overly nice can make things worse. Just be respectful. Removing people who are “mailing it in” or not engaged will motivate others.
  • Supporting Balance: Too much work is bad. People need time off to recharge and deal with family issues. Take an interest in what people do in their off hours (travel, hobbies, family, etc.). Notice people for their work ethic. Giving some extra time off can motivate people to be more productive.
  • Meetings: Make them brief and know why they are necessary. With all of the modern channels for communications, there should be less need for meetings. Rethinking and planning are necessary for productive meetings. The leaders should be the first at the meeting and the first to leave. “You guys have got it.” Meetings should be timely, have a clear agenda, along with follow-up.

7. Creating Culture in the New World of Work

  • Culture is not tangible, but it is important. You influence it on a gradual basis by the examples you set on a daily basis. Making positive changes takes time, but making negative changes can happen with a single event. Power struggles, for example, can have disastrous results. Sketchy ethics and risky shortcuts are also bad. Trust works the same way. A positive, productive culture will help you retain and recruit the people you want. The impact any one person has on a culture depends on its size.
  • Culture is something leaders must constantly access. Diversity helps. Studies show that cultures with more diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender have improved results. Consider recruiting from colleges with more diverse student bodies. Technology has an impact on culture, but it depends on how it is used. Using it to spy on employees is a very bad idea. You also need to strive for the right level of transparency. Cries for greater transparency signal a trust problem. Things you need to share include goals, strategy, financial information, failures, shits in thinking, and staff moves.
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