In the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to work with several clients in 5 different industries (Life Science/Pharma, CPG, Automotive, Medical Devices and Industrial Products). Each one was an excellent experience to learn from different corporate cultures, people and leadership styles.
So I thought I would write down the top 10 leadership lessons learnt from working with some of the best companies in America.
- Empower people but don’t just let them loose. This may sound like cliché but very difficult to achieve practically especially when you are managing a global team. Leaders empower their people and coach them while holding them accountable. Develop a tracking mechanism to ensure that empowerment is driving positive results and behavior.
- Raising voice or exercising authority is not persuasion. I was sitting in a workshop where my team was delivering a presentation to our client team. There must have been 20 some people in the room. At a certain point of disagreement, one of the attendees decided to speak at the top of their voice to make sure their viewpoint was accepted. Guess what, people (most of whom worked for that person) ignored him for the remainder of the week. This one is self-explanatory.
- Don’t be a crybaby. Does this sound like one of your colleagues or a direct report or someone else around you? Some people are full of complaints, dissatisfaction and an opinion on how the world should operate. However when you ask them for a plan or a remedy, they disappear. It is normal to complain but have a recommendation to change the course of things. Think, act and always have a plan.
- Understand people’s motives. Actions and words are often different from the ulterior motive. Take the time to really listen to people. Make the effort to understand the other person and what they really want. In my line of business this is particularly important, as my client’s needs are often different from what they initially describe. This also applies to people driving their own agenda. Understanding them helps remove certain roadblocks and makes the experience pleasant for everyone.
- Dynasties change – change accordingly or find a new one. We tend to get comfortable with our colleagues and leaders, and that’s how it should be. But a day comes when people change, and we become uncomfortable. Either embrace the new situation and people, or move on. People often struggle with this as they cling to the glorious past and lose sight of present and future. Make a quick decision, this time for yourself.
- Be honest to yourself and others. I see good leaders exhibit and practice this trait all the time. It’s like eternal truth. If we cannot be honest to ourselves, we are automatically not being honest to others. It is true that it all comes back around and creates difficult situations that are sometimes career reckoning. Let’s be authentic and keep each other honest.
- Life isn’t fair.Don’t compete for everything. Identify opportunities where your odds are high. There are many situations that feel like high stakes poker game. You spend a lot of energy and the outcome is as if you played a cheap slot machine. Not fair, right? However, we are the ones who made the decision to begin with. So should one not take risks? Absolutely yes, but become a better judge at understanding what you are getting into.
- Delegate. You are not a super hero. Do I need to say more?
- Educate. Prepare. Rehearse. This is a good one. I cannot tell you how many meetings I attend where people are completely unprepared and typically don’t get a second chance to course correct or win their audience. This was common to all companies or clients I worked with. There is only one remedy – over prepare! You don’t have to have all the answers but enough to support your idea.
- Take care of self and do not forget the loved ones. This should have been number one in the list. First, it’s you, and then, it’s everyone around you who cares for you. Jobs, circumstances, companies, businesses etc. change. The constants in your life are always with you and you need to take care of them. So tell them today how much you love them and thank them for supporting you!