Posted by: kevinliebl | May 25, 2009

3 Simple Rules To Being a “Leader”


Michael Scott – NOT a good role model

Leadership is a topic that most people have a difficult time explaining.  Those who are good at it, can’t explain why.  Those who are poor at it, believe they are doing all the right things.  I would like to share three simple rules that seem to be consistent among both good and bad leaders.

I believe the biggest challenge leaders face, is determining their role in the organization. The best leaders seem to be able to recognize that the company’s success is not dependent on them, but on the entire organization.  The company is a living and breathing entity, and their job is to “enable” the company, rather than to “drive” the company.

Rule 1:  Establish and clearly communicate both short- and long-term goals.  Strong leaders are able to set a path and make sure everyone in the company from the executive leadership team to the front desk receptionist knows where they are going, what needs to take place, and what the rewards will be.  They make sure everyone feels a part of the company’s success.  Many people believe that stock options should be limited to executives and middle management.  I believe everyone in the company should be issued stock options, so that they feel a part of the team and are empowered to drive the company goals.

Rule 2: Remove Obstacles – Early in my career during an annual review, my boss told me that his job was to remove obstacles so that I could be successful.  This impressed me.  He understood that if his team was successful, he would be successful.  Too many managers are focused on their own success, rather than the department or company success.  They need to be secure enough to understand that they will be successful if their team is successful.

Rule 3: Establish Trust and Open Communication – More leaders fail because of this one issue than any of the others.  Many leaders are excellent at managing up.  They communicate with their superiors very well and share information freely.  However, when it comes to their own staff, there is a glass ceiling.  No information is shared and the trust and mutual respect breaks down.  People will not follow someone that they do not respect and trust.  Successful leaders surround themselves with qualified managers and then establish mutual trust and communication.

“A leader is most effective when people barely know he exists.  When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, his troops will feel they did it themselves.”  – Lao Tzu

Action Item: Stress occurs in people when they feel they don’t control their destiny.  They believe they don’t know what to do to succeed, or it doesn’t matter what they do, it won’t make a difference.  Empower your team to be successful.  Tell them where to charge, remove the obstacles and develop mutual respect and trust.

I am curious.  Do you agree or disagree.  I would love some feedback on this post.


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  1. Leadership is a combination of authenticity and service.

    Phil Johnson, Leadership Lecturer, Coach, Author, Speaker
    MBL University … We Develop Leaders
    Bus: 905-272-5690 Cell: 416-729-7445
    Skype: MBLCoach

  2. Leadership is more about who you are than what you do. The best test of a leader is to see how he/she behaves under pressure. Does the leader display ego dominated behaviour? Does the leader have the ability to align others with the vision and mission of the company and keep everyone moving in that direction? Does the leader earn the respect of everyone around him through his/ her actions and words?

    These things are at the core of true leadership. You made some valid points in your article, but leadership encompasses so much more!

    • Renee,

      Agreed. Excellent comment. There is so much more that can be written than can be put into a 500 word blog entry. This is why there is a whole industry on business leadership books, training, conferences, etc. This article was a struggle to write in a short format.

      I completely agree with your comments. The ability to perform under pressure is an excellent example of leadership. Thanks for the response.

      – Kevin

  3. Hi Kevin,
    I have a question for you!
    “Every leader succeeds and fails depending on the situation he or she is working under”.
    Do you agree?Give Reasons.
    If you can just reply back.It would be great.

    • Subhamoy,

      An interesting question… Let’s look at the question:

      “Every leader succeeds and fails depending on the situation he or she is working under.”

      I would argue that it isn’t “dependent” on the situation as much as the capability of the individual to respond to the situation. We are all faced with decisions, challenges and opportunities every day. Our experience, talent and ability to apply our skills dictates how we react. I would say that our success or failure is due less to the “situation we are under” and more due to our set of resources (e.g., experience, knowledge, skills and talent).

      However, this argument is one of whether the glass is half empty or half full . It is a circular argument, isn’t it… I guess I prefer to believe the glass is half full.

      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Admiring the hard work you put into your site and in depth information you present.

    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material.
    Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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