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Everyday Leaders, Extraordinary Insights

There is no shortage of articles on the internet sharing various expert opinions about leadership. One thing I’ve learned as I spend time coaching individuals from our leadership courses is that there are plenty of smart people out there in the trenches who’ve learned a thing or two about leadership as well.  Early last year I wrote an article about 15 leadership insights our students shared during our coaching sessions. As I reviewed my coaching notes from this past year’s sessions, I realized it was time to share another year’s worth of some of the best leadership lessons from leaders who are just getting it done day-in and day-out. The list has grown to a Top 20 this year. Some are inspirational, some are practical, and all are from the heart. Enjoy.

  • “I am a leader, I shouldn’t doubt that!” Never shy away from stepping up and leading when necessary.
  • Some leadership skills seem so obvious, but we need to always remind ourselves that what we “ought” to be doing isn’t necessarily what we “are” doing.
  • We get so busy “doing stuff” that we forget not only the basics of leadership but also that we still have to lead our people. Don’t do this!
  • My PLP gave me a “license to lead.” It improved my communications, increased my effectiveness dealing with “sticky situations”, and I am less likely to avoid conflict.
  • It is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on results at the expense of focusing on the people who deliver those results.
  • Every leader is an individual with needs and expectations managing individuals with their own set of needs and expectations. In other words, “Know Yourself, Know Your People.” There is no “approved solution” for leadership.
  • Good communication skills are important not only down the chain but up the chain.
  • A good leader must learn how to coach and mentor their people.
  • Leadership isn’t about “do as I say” but rather about modeling your values every day to inspire people toward achieving a common vision.
  • Leadership isn’t static but rather is something you have to work on to improve.
  • Take time to reflect on how you are doing as a leader. Am I living my Leader’s Compass? Am I encouraging those above me, below me, and to my side to hold me accountable for living my Leader’s Compass?
  • Three quarters of people that I interact with don’t get me because they are not like me. I need to understand who they are, what they need, and adapt accordingly.
  • Never assume that everyone “got the memo”.
  • Don’t fear failure. Don’t let your people fear failure either.
  • When planning, shifting from “task list management” to a more strategic focus on prioritizing and delegating develops your people to ensure group success.
  • Leadership is a unique skillset that requires continuous thought and practice.
  • Find like-minded individuals with a desire to improve their leadership skills, share best practices and commiserate about various situations.
  • A group is made up of individuals. You need to lead at the individual level instead of the group level because one-size doesn’t fit all.
  • Leaders need to allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to allow their people to give “unguarded and visceral” feedback. The ability to do so is paramount for making a connection with your folks. Receiving that feedback without getting defensive is essential to maintaining credibility and trust.
  • A leader is responsible for creating vision and setting goals; a smart leader gets input and buy-in from the team to create the vision and goals. This ensures alignment, an understanding of where an individual fits into goal accomplishment, and encourages and empowers team members to “make it happen” through creative solutions in the leader’s absence.


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