Eric Swenson’s Philosophies of Great Leadership

  1. Think about why and how most people get promoted: a. They sell the most widgets; or b. They’re the hardest worker; or c. They kiss the most ass; or d. They’ve been there the longest; or e. In government, you even have to pass a written examination to get promoted.

But none of those qualities translates into the ability to effectively lead people.  

2. Leadership can be learned, but that learning must be desired, and it must be ongoing.

3. Before anything else, an effective leader must be able to articulate his/her core values and expectations of themselves, the people they work for and with, and the people who work for them.

4. Understanding and living your values makes every decision you make easier.

[Therefore, who you are is how you lead.]

5. The ability to effectively communicate supersedes any other important leadership tenet.  You can great in every other facet of leadership, but unless you can communicate well, you’re never going to succeed.

6. Hire for what you cannot teach: attitude, aptitude, alignment, and agility.  Emphasize your strengths and hire for your weaknesses.

7. Give credit freely to others.  After 30 years in leadership, I can say without hesitation what goes around comes around.  Maybe not immediately, but ultimately.

8. Treat every person as though you’ll be working for them one day.  It’s happened to me.

9. Always be learning.  In leadership development, there is no end zone.  The workforce is moving too fast for any leader to stay stagnant.  Lack of learning and curiosity will make you irrelevant faster than any other mistake you can make.

10. You can learn just as much from bad bosses as good bosses.  Remember the qualities of the best boss you’ve ever had and make sure you exemplify those qualities every day.

11. A great measure of good leadership is how things run when you’re not there.

12. I find the most effective leaders are crystal clear about their weaknesses.  They have no illusions and are totally transparent about what their weaknesses are.  They then hire to support those weaknesses.

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