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Never Will I Ever: Leadership Maxims For Anyone Who Cares

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If I am privileged to formally lead a small team, a large team, or a team of teams again in the future. Never will I ever:

Fail to acknowledge my team members

People work hard and often sacrifice a lot to better themselves through advanced degrees, seminars, and training classes offered both inside and outside of our organizations.

Simple analytics from any L&D or performance management system produces transcripts demonstrating who is making that extra effort to break out, move up, or find a new niche. (Or maybe I’ll find someone who is still genuinely curious and enjoys learning). Simply paying attention to team member’s LinkedIn profile updates – “I’m so happy to have just finished my Master’s in ________ and I’d like to thank my family…etc.” once a week will keep me in tune.

If any English Premier League coaches are reading this (Herr Klopp, you know you follow me), start calling out one of the backroom staff, chefs, cooks, janitors, ticket tackers…anyone who does their job every day supporting our heroes…every press conference you have. “I’d like to start by thanking __________ who does __________ back at home.” That team member, their family, and the world will start to more fully understand who makes a championship football club tick.

Assume that one particular leadership style or approach works for a team of individuals.

This seems obvious, perhaps until you have been immersed in your CEO’s latest leadership book fetish with every other leader in the organization. All of the books and theories and methods out there generally work, including the hierarchical, authoritarian military model (direct reports comply with everything they are told to do and often idolize their tough leaders). However, they work for some people in some cases, but not other people in others.

People are complex. The leader-follower dynamic can be different daily. What’s going on at home? Is my daughter hanging with the wrong crowd? Is my son’s general apathy just senioritis or a mental health challenge? Why am I so tired all the time? What if I don’t know how to do what I’m being asked to do? Did I put the bratwurst in the fridge before I went to bed?

If you have 10 reports, and they have 7 kids between them between the ages of 0-45, and 3 of them have elder parents living at home, and 2 of them have special needs situations, and the babysitter just quit, and you found out that your surgery is going to cost $3500 you don’t have, how am I supposed to lead through all of that with a formula? Sorry if that induced a bit of blue in your otherwise pink and happy day. It’s reality.

Life is not getting easier. Life seems to be getter harder. Pandemics. Printing money knowing it will never be paid back. Dogecoin (OK, I’m fine with this one, so I can PWN the system and write all day between massages.) How is this with all of the fanciful technology and interconnectedness we have today? I think we should all be chill by now. Not so much. We have never been more woke-broke.

We can get through this together.

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