Five Leadership Tips for This Week

We are bombarded every day with the things we are supposed to do or not do to be a good leader. But there are five skills I use with every CEO I coach, and you don’t find them highlighted in other sources. Successful CEOs practice these, so why not try one or all five this week?

  1. Demonstrate down-board thinking. A chess master stares at a board and can predict five to six plays ahead, complete with different moves and implications. Similarly, a strong leader envisions the big picture and all the steps along the path—traits from both sides of the brain. The creative and the tactical. The concept and the detail. Down-board thinkers develop multi-dexterous minds.
  2. Balance contradictions. Do you cut the baby in half? Do you sacrifice 10 people in order to save 1000? Do you cut the resources in Division A in order to create a 20% profit overall for the entire company? Leaders know there are seldom “clean” answers. The secret? Explain what is going on. Don’t leave people in the dark. Take them on the journey so they don’t wonder, “Do they know what they are doing up there?”
  3. Use storytelling. When people hear just facts and numbers, they retain only 5 to 10% of the content. When a story is added to the equation, memory increases by up to seventy percent. Stories allow you to coach, teach, and motivate; you engage the human spirit, establish new cultures, inspire strategic initiatives, and become personally connected. Contact me at vmathis@marymount.edu for a job aid on using and telling a good story.
  4. Ask for help. When you ask for help, you demonstrate vulnerability, trust, integrity, and engagement. You build a culture of curiosity, energy, and continuous learning. Some leaders believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. The reality is that you are seen as weak if you don’t have the common sense to ask for help from those who may have the insight, ideas, and support you need.
  5. State the next step. All leaders make mistakes and they take responsibility. What makes them leaders is not always having the answers, but always having the confidence to problem solve and explain what needs to be done next to manage the problem, error, mess, or failure. That instills confidence and demonstrates action.

Try these out. You’ll like the results.

Virginia Bianco-Mathis is a Partner at the Strategic Performance Group, a Senior Consultant at Oyster Organizational Development, and Director of the Human Resources and Organization Development program at Marymount University. She is a thought leader whose work spans all aspects of human resources, and has deep experience in academia, consulting, and executive coaching.