Leadership Golden Rules

Having a framework for the most essential leadership skills will help you avoid quick fixes and business-book fads.  In The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Lead By, (Harvard Business Press, 2011) Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman have distilled leadership into five core roles:

  1. Strategist – Leaders shape the future.
  2. Executor – Leaders make things happen.
  3. Talent manager – Leaders engage today’s talent.
  4. Human-capital developer – Leaders build the next generation.
  5. Personal proficiency – Leaders invest in their own development.

The scope of leadership may seem overwhelming.  In my coaching practice with leaders, I suggest these five golden rules which provide much-needed focus.

Rule 1: Shape the future. Answer the question “Where are we going” for the people you lead. You not only envision the future, but help create it. You need to figure out where the organization must go to succeed, while pragmatically testing ideas against current resources.

Rule 2: Make things happen. Leaders focus on the question, “How can we ensure we’ll reach our goals?” You must translate strategy into action. You’ll need to transform plans for change into measurable results by:

  • assigning accountability
  • knowing which decisions to manage and which to delegate
  • ensuring that teams work together effectively

This means keeping promises to multiple stakeholders. It also means ensuring that systems are in place for others to perform with the support they need.
Rule 3: Engage today’s talent. You’re in charge of optimizing teams’ performance. You must answer the question, “Who goes with us on our business journey?” You need to know how to identify, build and engage talent for immediate results.

How can you bring out the best in people?

Do you know which skills are required and where to find talent in your organization?

How can you best develop and engage people?

Rule 4: Build the next generation. You must answer the question, “Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?” Just as talent managers ensure shorter-term results through people, human-capital developers make sure the organization has the longer-term competencies and people required for future strategic success.

Rule 5: Invest in yourself. Leaders must model what they want others to master. Leading others ultimately begins with yourself. You cannot expect to influence followers unless you invest time and energy on your personal proficiency, individual strengths, self-awareness, and emotional and social intelligence.  Several assessments are available to help.

How well are you following the Golden Rules? Please leave a comment.  In my next blog post, I will review Leadership Theories.


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