Top Ten Leadership Lessons I’d Tell My Younger Self
Week 01 of 10 – Content Series
BEST PRACTICE IS AN OXYMORON.
You don’t need the best approach — just an approach. And the tenacity to stick to it long enough to learn from it. Honestly, it’s not always or even usually about taking the “best” approach to something. In our business, with so many variables and chaos, there is no perfect path. It’s more important to pick a path, then work like hell to stick to it and make it work. Then if all signs say no, pivot to a new path and dig in all over again.
Week 02 of 10 – Content Series
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.
Anxiety is contagious. In our empathy-is-king leadership world, this might sound like heresy, but don’t let other peoples’ urgencies and anxieties become yours. I’m not trying to be cold, but sometimes you need to literally “mind your own business” to make progress. Your priorities are your priorities. Others — your team, your employees and your clients — have their own. While you need to be very mindful of the priorities of those around you, you can’t allow their anxieties to become yours. That’ll knock you off course, make you reactive and potentially melt you.
Week 03 of 10 – Content Series
DON’T LOSE THE FAITH.
It’s cliché, but the top can be a lonely place at times. Many decisions you make won’t be popular or derived from consensus. In these cases, you have to steel up and keep the faith. It’s very hard, but you can do it.
Week 04 of 10 – Content Series
SHARED LEADERSHIP IS HARD, BUT NECESSARY.
Shared leadership is a newer leadership paradigm that can be harder than a traditional command-and-control style. It involves patience and tolerance of imperfection and often takes more time than the old way. But it’s necessary in our complicated, matrixed world and helps ensure balance in decision-making.
Week 05 of 10 – Content Series
Many leaders don’t handle silence well. Or they believe “leadership” is exhibited by being the first to speak or by speaking the most. Silence, or “air,” can be an incredibly valuable tool for leaders. It allows the ideas of others to sprout and grow. Why set the client or team on a particular path without first letting a path “evolve” from the best minds that surround you?
Week 06 of 10 – Content Series
It’s OK if you don’t have the answer. In fact, sometimes it’s better. This one can be hard. You believe you got to this level because you have all the answers. Or you at least believe that your teams and clients expect this of you. Both are inaccurate. Your real job is to facilitate getting to the best answer. Sure, you may sometimes have and offer the best solution. But most of the time, it takes an entire team to get there.
Week 07 of 10 – Content Series
BRB: TAKE THAT BREAK.
One thing I’ve learned the hard way: As much as activity may tire you, stress will fatigue you even more. Take more mental breaks than you think you need. Leadership can be stressful. Be mindful of this and take numerous mental breaks over the course of the workweek. And take your PTO. You need it more than you’ll ever believe you do.
Week 08 of 10 – Content Series
PEOPLE NEED INSPIRATION, HOPE AND PROMISE.
You may believe your job is about hitting your numbers, running a stable ship and juggling multiple balls at once, but these are just table stakes. What your employees really need from their CEO is inspiration. Hope. Promise. Humanity. You can’t forget these things, even if they don’t come as naturally to you as the other stuff. And with time, they will come more naturally.
Week 09 of 10 – Content Series
PATIENCE, YOUNG GRASSHOPPER.
Don’t be pressured into quick decisions. Sometimes a situation requires a quick decision, but most of the time, it doesn’t. While everyone appreciates decisiveness, don’t underestimate the value of time in making decisions. Rarely have I, or the business, been penalized by deliberate decision-making. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured by situations or people to make quick decisions when your gut tells you that you’re not there yet.
Week 10 of 10 – Content Series
ENERGY IS AS PRECIOUS TO YOU AS TIME.
Consciously decide where to focus your energy — and how to not waste it. Be proactive in this, and do your best to let your highest priorities dictate where you expend energy. Worrying is related to this. I could write a book about that. There could be no bigger waste of energy. We all worry. Condition yourself to worry less and to only worry when the situation calls for it. Otherwise, focus your energy on your priorities.
About the Author
Jeff Young is CEO and president of Bader Rutter. At his core, he is a builder with a passion for helping clients grow their businesses and brands. In fact, he has been helping build Bader Rutter for the past 30 years. Tireless problem-solving is a hallmark of Jeff, and his belief is that the closer we are to the client’s customer, the smarter we can be on their behalf.