Top Three Things to Do Today to Be a Better Leader

To build a better business, we need to be better leaders.  This does not mean we need to rush out and get more training or education or bring in a consultant (absolutely not!!).  Instead, we need to focus on the basics.  Without further ado, here is my list of the top three things all of us can do today to be better leaders.

Number 3 – Be Positive

As leaders we need to motivate and support our team.  This only comes from sharing our positivity with the team by inspiring them, thanking them, and congratulating them.  Especially in challenging and stressful times, being positive is vital to ensure that we are doing everything possible (within our control) to drive our companies forward and allow for employees to continue to provide for their families.  The Canadian entrepreneur Peter Thomas express well the benefits of being positive:

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.  Keep your words positive because your words become your actions.  Keep your actions positive because your actions become your values.  Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” 

As the writer Herm Albright humorously puts it, there is one additional benefit to being positive:

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”  

Number 2 – Keep it Simple and Clear

The goal of a leader is to inspire the team and help sell to the customer.  But, nobody is inspired and certainly nobody buys if they don’t understand or are confused.  This is especially true in today’s world where everyone seems to thrive on complexity.  As a leader we need to cut through complexity and ambiguity and ensure that everything we do is understood, both the specific directions and the reasons behind what we are doing (the “why”).  We need to keep things short; we need to write and speak in simple and clear language, and we need to keep our team’s priorities to just a critical few.  As General Colin Powell says, insight (even genius) is in seeing and communicating the simplicity amongst all the complexity of our business.

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” 

Number 1 – Follow Up

Successful teamwork and a successful business all result from a group of people working together toward a common goal with each person completing their tasks to accomplish the goal.  Once we have been simple and clear in our directions and goals, we need to follow up relentlessly to ensure that our team completes the tasks and achieves the goals.  As executive coach and author Marshall Goldsmith writes:

“People don’t get better without follow up.  So let’s get better at following up with our people.”


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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