Moving to the head of the line comes through hard work, good luck, and the careful application of intuition and well-developed political horse sense. This is certainly true; and it would also help if you were related to the boss or happened to be the only qualified person on the planet. Short of this, can you move into a leadership position on your own initiative, understanding that being the boss and being a leader are not necessarily the same and often are not? There are no guarantees; but knowing the 101 secrets of leadership and applying them conscientiously and consistently is a good start. You may not make it to the head of the line but you are sure to start moving up.
Start your journey by thinking about people you know who stand out from the crowd, people who are certifiable class acts, people who everyone sees as leaders. They have three techniques down pat. First, they are originals. Their style and approach with people and situations are their trademarks. Second, they are not on-again, off-again. They are always uniquely themselves. Third, and here is the key: it is no accident. They usually make it seem easy and natural. Still, take a closer look and you will soon understand and appreciate how hard they work at it. They consciously and purposely do everything they do, with style, all the time, on time, one situation at a time, one relationship at a time, one person at a time.
Genuine leadership is not grounded in flashy clothes, gestures of affection, superficial interest, staged behavior, or anything else that serves only to call attention to you. It is grounded in commitment, sincerity, and personal integrity. It is the stuff from which admiration flows, the special ingredient that sets the interpersonal standard that others aspire to follow. It is the brand of interpersonal excellence exemplified by those who have carefully cultivated their skills and techniques over time. They may not be born leaders but have certainly learned to lead.
Perhaps you personally know such leadership superstars. If so, you know that these representatives of the leadership elite provide a value-added benefit for their followers that they cannot get from the merely competent. Others have their occasional flashes of brilliance; but the creme de la creme work their wizardry consistently, creatively, and in virtually every situation. Of course, there is their uncanny ability to anticipate problems and opportunities and their simply taking it for granted that their followers are trying to do what is right. As important as that is, they have an even more important secret. They always remember and own everything they say, agree to, and do. The leadership bottom line is integrity; and following the lead of people who have it is your best path toward the head of the line. If your bottom line is integrity and you are committed to sticking to the high road with everyone, every time, you are ready to learn these 101 secrets of leadership. What's more, you are ready to join those at the head of the line in your company or organization.
Since 101 of anything is a lot to remember, use this strategy to develop your personal leadership enhancement guide. Beside each of the numbers, put a 3, 2, or 1. "3" means that this secret is one you know well and follow consistently. "2" means that this secret is one you understand but apply on an on again, off again basis. "1" means that this secret is not a strong area for you and is one where you need to get better at practicing what you preach.
1 Understand and champion your company's mission.
2 Value your company's customers and products.
3 See Company goals as personal action steps.
4 Be responsive to the needs and interests of customers.
5 Understand your roles with others, where and how you fit in.
6 Work within the scope of your responsibilities and authority.
7 Follow Company policies and procedures.
8 See how your duties/responsibilities relate to other areas of your company.
9 Understand your company's budget, financial reports, and other management data.
10 Question the decisions or actions of others you think may cause problems or jeopardize operations.
11 Respect the confidentiality of team discussions and problem solving activities.
12 Support Management when you or your co-workers are unhappy with policies and decisions.
13 Do not pass your frustrations and negative opinions down-the-line to others.
14 Bring the same energy and commitment to your responsibilities when things are not going well as you do when they are.
15 Learn and grow as a participant in your organization from week-to-week.
16 Accurately understand and value your skills and limitations.
17 Be well-organized and prepared when handling any responsibility.
18 Handle every task in a timely manner.
19 Take personal responsibility when you see something that needs done and no one is doing it.
20 Pitch in and work a little harder, do a little more whenever the opportunity presents itself.
21 Invest most of your time and energy in taking care of business.
22 Keep your focus primarily on what is working, on what is going well in your company.
23 Focus most of your attention and energy on how to get ideas to work and away from why they will not work.
24 Do not hold yourself out as the standard for how others should think, feel, and behave.
25 Assume people believe what they say and do not intentionally misrepresent anything.
26 Understand and remember that people seldom complain when there is not a real problem.
27 Stay open to the ideas and suggestions of others.
28 See and understand problems and ideas from the other person's point of view.
29 Make sure a job needs done and is worth doing before expecting others to do it.
30 Make sure a job can be done before holding anyone accountable for it.
31 Provide clear instructions and directions for your customers and co-workers.
32 Develop incremental steps, procedures, and checkpoints for tasks and goals for which you are responsible.
33 Help your co-workers understand how their jobs fit in with Company goals and activities.
34 Keep your focus on people's abilities and strengths instead of emphasizing their limitations and weaknesses.
35 Tell them, show them, and then tell them what you showed them (TST).
36 Give people reasons and explanations for your behavior and actions when requested.
37 Clearly define and communicate your goals and motivations.
38 Be clear about what you want and expect from others.
39 Be sure people know why whatever you do needs done, why it is important.
40 Make sure people know how to do what you expect before holding them responsible.
41 Remember that you cannot pass on your responsibility just because you have delegated tasks and activities.
42 Do not delegate duties that require your direct involvement.
43 Do not delegate a task and then try to manage it.
44 When delegating, delegate both activities and related functional authority.
45 Delegate as much scope of authority as necessary to get the job done.
46 Be familiar with and know how to use outside resources to benefit your company and its customers.
47 Be familiar with and use all the internal resources of your company.
48 Understand and use the informal procedures and processes within your company.
49 Know about and tap the knowledge, skills, and abilities of others.
50 Make sure that whenever you assign work to others, it is distributed fairly.
51 Distribute work and responsibilities based on people's strengths, preferred areas, and away from weaknesses.
52 Do not take advantage of people who cannot refuse.
53 Do not take advantage of people who are especially good- natured or cooperative.
54 Do not hold yourself out as necessarily the best judge of how the company environment is for others.
55 Advocate for your needs and interests within the context of the needs and interests of your company.
56 Trust your co-workers to act in the best interest of your company and its customers.
57 Exercise as much personal control as you appropriately can over your work environment.
58 Spend part of your company time socializing and hanging around.
59 Do not take credit for the ideas and work of others.
60 Give credit where and when credit is due.
61 Be sensitive to the motivations and interests of others.
62 Be open to the feelings and opinions of others.
63 Value the varying styles and personalities of people.
64 Be patient and tolerant with others.
65 Anticipate problems and opportunities.
66 Deal with problems and conflicts as soon as you become aware of them.
67 Do not let your sense of responsibility get in the way of your sense of humor.
68 Be slow to confront or argue.
69 Fit the intensity and forcefulness of your reactions and criticisms to the seriousness or importance of the problem or incident.
70 Be assertive but tactful.
71 Ask people to help solve your problems instead of simply trying to get them to accept your solutions.
72 Be hard on problems and soft on people.
73 Deal more with the problem and less with the people when people are upset or unhappy.
74 Be flexible and willing to compromise.
75 Do not deal with people in win/lose terms.
76 Accept shared responsibility for assuring others get their interests met, get a good deal.
77 Remember and own what you have said, agreed to, and what you have done.
78 Work to decrease use of power and control and to increase your influence.
79 See each of your decisions as an opportunity to improve conditions for customers or co-workers.
80 Try to understand the what/why of problems before taking action.
81 Evaluate the cost/benefit of actions before taking them.
82 Make the difficult or unpopular decisions and accept responsibility for them when you believe it is necessary.
83 Be prepared to handle people's being upset or unhappy with you at times.
84 Understand there are usually several ways to get the job done and not a best way.
85 Do not over-manage, over-control activities or people.
86 Attend to details without getting bogged down in them.
87 Understand the 80% rule: not until 80% of the people involved in an activity are doing it right 80% of the time should you expect 100% performance.
88 Give people clear, frequent, and accurate feedback.
89 Spend more time telling people what they are doing right than what they are doing wrong.
90 Assume people are trying to do well, are trying to succeed.
91 If people are not succeeding, assume they do not know how, do not think it matters, or are being prevented from succeeding.
92 Teach others to work smarter instead of pressuring them to work harder.
93 Be quick to praise and slow to criticize.
94 Do not praise people for a job done less well than you expected.
95 Hold others responsible only for what they can do and can control.
96 Handle it as a training opportunity when people cannot do what you expect.
97 Handle it as a leadership opportunity when people will not do what you expect; but be sure not to confuse will not and cannot.
98 See attitude problems in others as leadership opportunities and intransigent attitude problems as leadership failures.
99 Compliment publicly, criticize privately.
100 Before criticizing others, make sure they knew what behavior was expected, knew how to do what was expected, could have done what was expected, and actually did not behave reasonably and responsibly.
101 When criticizing anyone, keep it short, limited to your immediate point, and end by affirming the person's value and abilities.
"But these aren't secrets," you say? "I already knew all of this stuff." Well, good for you. I thought that since I seldom see people who apply most all of these techniques and strategies conscientiously and consistently on a day-to-day basis, they must be well-kept secrets. At the same time, I do have the pleasure of seeing the elite few who apply the secrets everyday, every time, with everyone. Those are, of course, also the people who rise to the upper limits of leadership and this is no coincidence. While most people know better than they do, the leadership superstars are busy doing as well as they know, conscientiously and consistently.
I will now leave you alone to ponder these 101 secrets of leadership but will offer a small suggestion before I go. You may be tempted to concentrate your efforts mostly on those secrets where you rated yourself with a "1" beside the secret. You will strengthen your weaknesses. That would be a mistake. Instead, Put most of your energy into keeping the "3's" consistently at the "3" level and some energy into raising the "2's" to "3's." You will be surprised to see that the "1's" begin to improve with little or no specific attention. That's another secret about leaders. They know what they do well and spend virtually all of their time doing it. They gradually find that they have followers who value their leadership enough to show them how to do the things they don't do well or do them for them. They do not expect their leader to be perfect. They only expect their leader to do what he or she does well and to do it every time, in every situation, with everyone, no excuses, no exceptions. Sure, it's a heavy responsibility; but you will see that it is well-worth the effort when one day you unexpectedly find yourself at the head of the line.