Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It takes patience, courage, resilience and sacrifice.
Many leaders have influenced my own leadership philosophy. In fact, there are too many to name, but with the help of artificial intelligence, I have highlighted “the top 10 leadership practices in modern history” I find most useful.
I asked ChatGPT to write a blog with the same prompt. ChatGPT (or Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) is an AI chatbot. The tool I used is in its research phase and it easily wrote a blog in response to my prompt in a less than one minute.
I agree with the facts outlined in the AI-generated blog and I even selected two of the same leadership practices in my own top 10 list. Both top-10 lists are presented below. However, if you compare the two you will see the second one that was created by ChatGPT is missing some of the context and personalization that only I can uniquely generate. Please enjoy both blogs below and LMKWYT (let me know what you think).
- Leaders go first. For me the concept of leaders going first is all about role modeling. For example, do not roll out a new tool or policy in your company that you are not willing to use or follow yourself. If you want to require training, as the leader you should take the training first. Not only does going first signal to your organization that this is important, but it also allows you to experience it firsthand and determine its value and ease of use. The same thing holds true for the advice we give our clients;we know we must practice what we preach to be credible consultants. You must always eat your own dog food or drink your own champagne.
- Leaders set the tone and it’s contagious. Leaders should exemplify the culture they set out to create. It matters what you say, what you do, and what you prioritize. And from neuroscience-based research on social contagions, we know that tone is also contagious. Social contagions involve behaviors, emotions, or conditions spreading spontaneously through a group. The concept of emotional contagion is used in branding and marketing as most brands want to be associated with positive and uplifting emotions. This concept holds true for leaders. For example, if you are a stressed leader, chances are that stress will spread throughout your organization. It is not an easy skill to master but anybody can work on building the skill through practice. I try to be the calm in the daily storm of activities and stressors to set the example for others.
- Servant leadership is the only sustainable leadership. Servant leadership was a pivotal concept for me as a I grew in management roles within corporate America and witnessed too much “ego-centered” leadership practices. For most people, there is a complete shift in how they view their leadership role when they realize it is not about them. In some ways that is a relief because it takes off some of the pressure to be perfect. However, with this concept also comes great responsibility because servant leadership is about serving others and putting their needs above your own. Every day, I am focused on how I can make other people successful, including staff, peers, clients, and partners. I do believe this is the only sustainable form of leadership.
- Surround yourself with the best minds. The riskiest thing you can do as a leader is to surround yourself with “yes” people. Hierarchies reinforce this behavior and at best create a culture of inauthenticity and at worst shield the leader from the real information they need to be successful. Abraham Lincoln is famously known for surrounding himself with people who would challenge his thinking as told in the book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. If you surround yourself with good people, there is more relief for you as a leader when you start to realize you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. I want to work with people who challenge me, question me, and have the best interests of the organization in mind.
- Emotional intelligence (EI) is the real predictor of success. As an executive coach, I know self-awareness—or emotional intelligence (EI)—is one of the greatest predictors of leadership success. The work that psychologist Daniel Goleman popularized breaks down EI into four competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. And yes, ChatGPT, studies by the Centers for Creative leadership confirm that EI is a greater predictor of success than technical skills or IQ. I predict EI will continue to outperform AI. In other words, EI is what will continue to differentiate humans from the bots we have created and trained to perform daily tasks.
- Be a strengths finder and builder. In the 1990s I was exposed to the work of Marcus Buckingham who developed the concept of strengths-based management through Gallup polling. His book Now, Discover your Strengths” paved the way for a new way of thinking about harnessing employee talents and managing performance. His research showed it was better to spend time maximizing strengths than focusing on weaknesses. The takeaway is that weaknesses still need to be addressed but the real value for any organization is discovering and cultivating the strengths of your people.
- Reinforce your messages 7 times and 7 ways. The rule of 7 is a guiding force for me. It is a principle in sales and marketing and also an effective communication rule of thumb for leaders particularly when trying to communicate a change. Research shows people need to hear your message 7 times and in 7 different ways before they will take action. If you want a message to stick, then repetition is your friend.
- Lead with burning ambition. Leaders that want change will have a greater long-term impact if they focus on moving toward an opportunity vs. responding to a threat. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Peter Fuda when I worked at global Fortune 150 technology company. Peter is a leader who specializes in transformation, and he uses the fire metaphor to symbolize the forces of change. His research suggests “that although fear may provide the initial spark for action, aspiration is a far more important motivator. Sustainable change requires the fire of a burning ambition.”
- Energy management is the new time management. Sometimes the juice is not worth the squeeze. We use this concept on our leadership team at LMD to reserve our energy for the most important and impactful activities. How you spend your time can impact your energy and achieving the right balance is key. I believe that time is our most important commodity in life, and we must manage it carefully to maintain our own balance but also be mindful of the amount of time we are asking from others. I practice “time boxing” as a way to help the team manage their time effectively. Time management can be the ultimate form of mutual respect on a team. LMD’s leadership team has committed to using our work and meeting time wisely to preserve and prioritize the time we have for other things in life.
- Clear is kind. My new favorite thought leader is Brené Brown, the author of Dare to Lead. Brown asserts clarity is the best way to be kind and sums it up simply as “clear is kind and unclear is unkind.” I am using this concept to reinforce the importance of psychological safety because clarity is a critical aspect of creating a culture where people feel safe. Role ambiguity and inconsistency can often lead to mistrust on teams. As a leader you can establish psychological safety on the team by being clear about roles and responsibilities, expectations, and how people can contribute to their fullest.
Using these principles as my guide, I am motivated to constantly evolve as a leader. My worst fear is to get stuck in an era. I embrace new innovations, like AI, with a willingness to explore, learn, and look for the opportunities. The future is bright if we look for those opportunities vs. fear them.
Dedication: This blog is dedicated to my most influential boss and leader, Jan Bassett. The years that I worked for Jan I was stretched and challenged to learn and grow. Jan led a tight knit team that supported each other, trusted each other, and were known for taking on the tough challenges together. Jan,our steadfast leader, was the one setting the tone, always keeping her composure, and most importantly she always went first. Jan also taught me the importance of retiring at the top of your game. Unlike many before her who waited too long, she went out with all the glory and went on to enjoy her retirement playing golf and traveling with her husband.
The Top 10 Most Useful Leadership Practices in Modern History
Leadership practices have evolved over time, influenced by societal and technological advancements. In modern history, there have been many leaders who have set a standard for effective leadership. In this blog, we will discuss the top 10 leadership practices in modern history and cite sources to support them.
Visionary leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate people towards a common goal. Leaders who have a clear vision and communicate it effectively are more likely to inspire their team members. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, visionary leadership is a key predictor of a company's long-term success.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one's emotions and those of others. Leaders who possess emotional intelligence are better able to communicate effectively, build relationships, and manage conflicts. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that emotional intelligence was a stronger predictor of success than IQ or technical skills.
Coaching and mentoring involve guiding and supporting team members to develop their skills and reach their full potential. Leaders who prioritize coaching and mentoring create a culture of learning and growth. According to a study by the Institute of Leadership and Management, coaching and mentoring improve employee engagement and retention.
Transparency and authenticity involve being honest and open with team members. Leaders who prioritize transparency and authenticity build trust and credibility with their team members. According to a study by Edelman Trust Barometer, transparency is a key factor in building trust with employees.
Inclusive leadership involves creating a culture of diversity and inclusion where all team members feel valued and respected. Leaders who prioritize inclusive leadership are better able to attract and retain top talent. According to a study by Deloitte, inclusive teams are more innovative and perform better than non-inclusive teams.
Adaptive leadership involves being flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. Leaders who possess adaptive leadership skills are better able to navigate uncertainty and manage change. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, adaptive leadership is a key factor in organizational resilience.
Servant leadership involves putting the needs of team members first and prioritizing their well-being over the leader's own interests. Leaders who practice servant leadership create a culture of trust and collaboration. According to a study by Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, servant leadership leads to higher employee engagement and job satisfaction.
Strategic thinking involves the ability to think critically and make decisions that align with the organization's long-term goals. Leaders who possess strategic thinking skills are better able to make informed decisions and anticipate future challenges. According to a study by McKinsey, strategic thinking is a key predictor of a company's success.
Agility involves the ability to respond quickly to changing circumstances and make decisions in a timely manner. Leaders who prioritize agility are better able to navigate uncertainty and take advantage of opportunities. According to a study by Korn Ferry, agility is a key predictor of leadership success.
Empowerment involves delegating authority and responsibility to team members and trusting them to make decisions. Leaders who prioritize empowerment create a culture of accountability and ownership. According to a study by Gallup, teams that feel empowered are more engaged and perform better than teams that do not feel empowered.
In conclusion, effective leadership practices have evolved over time, and modern leaders have set a high standard for effective leadership. By prioritizing visionary leadership, emotional intelligence, coaching and mentoring, transparency and authenticity, inclusive leadership, adaptive leadership, servant leadership, strategic thinking, agility, and empowerment, leaders can create a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation.