A few thoughts on leadership ‘nevers’

There are times in life when not doing something is just as important as doing something. In several of my recent leadership speeches, I have emphasized an area of leadership preparation I call “never thoughts”: concepts we ought to treat as not just suggestions, but hard-and-fast rules of the road! Following are four of my “never thoughts”:

Never compromise your principles. The temptation to reach your hand into the cookie jar can be a strong one; the cookies look so good, and you know they’d taste good, too. Maybe the idea of bending your ethical standards just this once –because it seems to make sense in these special circumstances – feels harmless. But are you sure that you’ll stop at just one cookie? In my experience, one ethical broach is likely to begin a slippery slope. What may seem trivial in the short term can slowly evolve into bad habits. Give yourself peace-of-mind by taking a pledge to: “Never compromise your principles”.

Never let your ego get in the way. When you are doing really good work in your professional space, you are likely to get more frequent pats on the back. This feels wonderful! To appreciate a compliment from your boss is one thing; but when it starts to feel important to you that everyone else recognize your special shine, you’re in trouble. If you lead with your ego, your peers may back away from you – or, even worse, they may begin to lead with flattery rather than honesty. Do not let yourself become isolated from the truth. Stay grounded: “Never let your ego get in the way.”

Never become a micromanager.  Many HR surveys show that micromanaging contributes heavily to low morale in the workplace. A person who is hired into a new position is looking for coaching and guidance, of course, but they also expect to be given the opportunity to do the job they were hired to do.  Be the boss that allows this to be true. If you choose to review and critique every move, I can guarantee your new hire will quickly become discouraged. Prioritize trust within your work team: “Never become a micromanager.”

Never jump into political & social issues.
When leaders wade into the deep waters of political controversy, the outcome is almost always negative. If you pull your organization into a hot-button issue, you will certainly offend some number of individuals on your team. Social controversies are not just about facts, but also emotions. No matter what position you take, there will be others taking the opposite position – regardless, you lose. The only logical path: “never jump into political & social issues.”

These four “Never Principles” provide solid guidelines for anyone in a leadership role. As leaders, we will be most successful when we walk the high road. So…

  • Never compromise your principles
  • Never let your ego get in the way
  • Never become a micromanager
  • Never jump into political & social issues

published Nashville Business Journal

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