11 Rules of Exemplary Leaders

Leadership is a contact sport and everyone has their own definition of leadership. In the book Believe and Achieve by W.Clement Stone he mentions about the rules of leadership from Strom Thurmond who was a US Senator from South Carolina from 1954 till 2003. Here are the 11 rules I liked with my take on each
Leaders must be honest– Leaders will be able to attract followers only if they are honest. Honesty develops trust within the teams. When a leader is honest in sharing both good and bad news it fosters an open culture where collaboration is high and friction is reduced.
Leaders must have ability – This is an obvious one that only if a leader is truly competent in their field they can attract followers. Especially in the knowledge era where information is exploding at an alarming rate it becomes of paramount importance that leaders are totally competent. The best leaders are always looking out for learning opportunities through reading and listening. They also share what they have learned with their followers.
Leaders must be master decision makers – The ability to think is one of the primary requirements of being a true leader. Leaders must learn to think, make decisions quickly and accurately. Leaders think a long time before making a decision but once they have made it they ensure that they follow through. As it is often said leaders don’t always make right decisions but they make their decisions right.
Leaders must be hard workers – This goes without saying but leaders work damn hard. They are willing to put in the long hours when needed and set the right example for their teams. It is also important to note that this doesn’t mean leaders work long hours necessarily but they balance their lifestyle and show what is truly possible within the time allocated.
Leaders must be courteous– View everyone who works for you as a free agent. This mindset ensures that leaders will always treat their team members with courtesy and respect. The only way to ensure retention of your top talent is by treating people in an exemplary fashion and the leader can achieve this by being courteous.
Leaders must be courageous– Winston Churchill once said “Courage is rightly considered the first of human qualities for upon it all others depend.” Courage is a vital requirement to be a top leader. Leaders take calculated risks and lead from the front in the battlefield. Courage is the ability to perform under pressure and being mentally ready to accept the worst should it happen.
Leaders must love people and want to serve them – Leaders have a high emotional quotient and they love people. They have a genuine interest in people and want to serve their needs. This can be also the basis for servant leadership. Of course Robert Greenleaf is the pioneer of servant leadership.He says "Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world."
Leaders must be cheerful, optimistic and inspire confidence in others- Enthusiasm is something that is contagious. You can’t imagine a well-rounded leader who is not cheerful and optimistic. Even when things go wrong the leader immediately brings the people together communicating the big picture and staying cheerful throughout. The way to develop optimism is to have a high appreciation of life, strong future orientation and ability to bounce back from setbacks.
Leaders must recognize and use the abilities of other people – Leaders are always looking at opportunities on how to get the most out everyone. A leader needs to understand the strengths of each person reporting to them and ensure the work is aligned to the individual’s strength. A leader also understands that they cannot do everything on their own and they ensure to select people who are strong in their areas of weakness.
Leaders must learn to organize – Everyone has the same 24 hours but leaders have excellent organization capabilities. They are masters at delegating their tasks to focus their efforts on the main thing while at the same time retaining ultimate responsibility for the outcomes. President Eisenhower was a great example of this. This is how Jean Edward Smith put it “Like a true professional Eisenhower made things look easy. He was a master of the essentials. He appeared to performing less work than he did because he knew instinctively which matters required his attention and which could be delegated to his subordinates.”
Leaders must be aggressive but not offensive – All leaders are out in the front and want to achieve market leadership. However the leader needs to be tactful and understand the market realities. Leaders should not be offensive whether in their language or actions. They should be aggressive without being arrogant and offensive. Great leaders are very thoughtful about their actions and how it will be perceived so they ensure that all their actions are integrated with their deepest values.
There you have it the 11 things that all great leaders must do in order to succeed. I think integrating some of these into our personal leadership styles can help us in becoming better leaders. Thanks for reading this post.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.


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