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21 Ways to Improve Leadership Effectiveness

Every box on every organization chart is about who the executive or manager is going to be. At least that is where the thinking usually starts. We somehow think we need to name the managers first, then we place employees under them to build out a team.

This whole focus on “managing” the team sets wheels in motion that drive how people react and respond to the named person in the top box.

Oh sure, there is power in the position. Anyone who has ever been placed in one of those manager boxes knows this. But relying solely on that power creates a very shaky perch for the boss sitting there.

What About Leadership?

As you move around your organization, if you are one of the ones selected to occupy one of those “manager boxes”, ask yourself this question.

What can I do about my leadership ability?

Your answer should be “If I can provide real leadership, not just effective management, then maybe I can make a big difference here.”

When people ask me what leadership is, I like to have them think about people they’ve admired. I ask them to think about people they have worked for, seen or know about who have helped make a difference. They might be leaders of a cause or some famous movement. Or they might be your high school principal.

If you spend some time thinking about the people who have made a difference in your own life, likely they were exhibiting some element of leadership.

The Good News

The great opportunity here is to adopt some of the traits and habits you admire in others to expand your own leadership muscle. Add methods to your toolbox that you know were effectively demonstrated by others.

I feel blessed because I was, and still am, surrounded by great mentors in my life. Very few of them ever wrote a book or filmed a movie to tell their story, but they made huge impacts in my community. The wonderfully amazing thing about all of this was that I got to pick and choose from the best of the best.

As each person coached me through various situations, I got to see and hear how they operated. I could pick the calmness in one person, or the resolve of another, or the decision making skill of yet another. Then I could weave these attributes together to write my own version of a leadership story.

John Maxwell writes about “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” His list of 21 attributes rounds out a very comprehensive description of what makes up powerful leadership. You can debate the terms he uses for each attribute or principle, but you cannot deny the substance each one represents.

Here’s the List.

  • The Law of the Lid – We all have caps on our natural ability. You must constantly strive to lift the lid.
  • The Law of Influence – Character, relationships, knowledge, intuition, experience, ability.
  • The Law of Process – Leadership develops daily, not in a day.
  • The Law of Navigation – Anyone can steer the ship but a Leader plots the course.
  • The Law of Addition – Add value by serving others.
  • The Law of Solid GroundTrust is the foundation; knowing how to build trust matters.
  • The Law of Respect – People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.
  • The Law of Intuition – Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias.
  • The Law of Magnetism – Who you are is who you attract.
  • The Law of Connection – Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.
  • The Law of the Inner Circle – Your potential is determined by those closest to you.
  • The Law of Empowerment – Secure leaders give power to others.
  • The Law of the Picture – People do what people see.
  • The Law of Buy-In – People buy into the Leader before they buy-in to the vision.
  • The Law of Victory – Leaders find a way for the team to win.
  • The Law of Big Mo – Momentum is your best friend.
  • The Law of Priorities – Activity alone is not an accomplishment.
  • The Law of Sacrifice – Give up to Go up.
  • The Law of TimingWhen to assert your leadership is as important as what to do and where to go.
  • The Law of Explosive Growth – To add growth, lead followers. To multiply, lead Leaders.
  • The Law of Legacy – What people say tomorrow depends on what you do today.

Becoming the Better Leader

If you can find someone who lives and leads by every one of those 21 laws, you will know about being a very influential leader.

Why don’t we see more of these people working in those management slots on that org chart? It’s because very few of us get exposure to or training for all these characteristics and principles.

When I start an executive coaching assignment, I like to spend time with my client assessing where they stand. In other words, how many of the 21 laws do they know how to follow? Then we decide on where the gaps might be. We set a plan to work on two or three of the missing links; the gaps. Then as progress begins to happen, we periodically revisit the list and decode whether a few more can be explored.

The goal becomes mastery of all 21. To date, no one I’ve ever know has perfectly mastered all 21 areas of effective leadership. However, by working on a few at a time, they have added extra horsepower to their own leadership expertise so that team performance improves, and management issues decrease.

If you may be interested in hearing more about this way to grow your own leadership abilities, give us a call.

Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


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