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Common Sense Leadership

31st Mar, 2009

This month’s tip was inspired by a meeting with an ex colleague of mine who has survived several economic downturns, numerous reorganisations and tens of bosses over a 22 year period in a large multinational organisation. I asked him how he did it and he said, to him, it was just common sense!
Here are his ‘tips for common sense leadership’:

1. Do the right things. All too often we can get distracted by the need to do things right rather than focussing on doing the right things in the first place – use common sense. Focus on the key things that will bring value to your clients, rather than the latest fad.

2. Only operate in your sphere of influence. Understand your sphere of influence and do everything you can to achieve your results in that sphere. (Rather than worrying about things or blaming things that you have no influence over.)

3. Show unyielding integrity. Be fiercely protective and supportive of staff. Building and maintaining trust makes it more likely that your staff will follow you in the inevitable difficult times. Believe in the potential of each individual rather than seeing them as ‘human resources’. Demonstrating integrity also means being ‘tough’ on staff when necessary because team members want fairness.

4. Balance the long and short term. In difficult times it’s all too easy to take a short term view of everything. Remember to step back at times and look at the long term view. For example, it may be worth while taking a loss leader to get into a major account. It may be worth holding on to staff because finding those skills and/or experience again is difficult. Assess the long term risk against short term gain. After all in Aesop’s fable the tortoise beat the hare in the long run.

5. Focus on sales/customer satisfaction. Focussing on sales/customer satisfaction energises. Cost cutting saps energy. A cost can only be cut once but a new client may generate years of revenue.

6. Develop a balanced team. A balanced team will have a mix of talents, abilities and personalities. A team of superstars is difficult to maintain for any length of time and as studies have shown is unlikely to outperform a balanced team in terms of personality traits. Coaching and developing the team breeds loyalty.

7. Stay grounded. Be happy in your own skin and take what other people think of you with a healthy pinch of salt. Question ‘management speak’,’ groupthink’, three letter acronyms, aspirational brands, etc. Only follow the herd with good reason.

8. Tap into networks. You may not know all the answers so tap into as many networks as possible. Keep in touch with old acquaintances, talk things through with the team, get a coach or a mentor.

Common Sense?

Food for thought?

Have you got some comments or even your own tips? Post your thoughts.