Lessons in leadership redux

Many years ago, a librarian friend of mine asked if I’d write something about leadership for a website she curated called LISCareer.com that served as a companion resource to a book she had edited. I wrote a brief essay called “Lessons in Leadership”. In it, I outlined four lessons:

  1. Seek a mentor, be a mentor.
  2. Learn to be a good communicator.
  3. Leadership is an attitude, not a position.
  4. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Now seems a good time for me to once again reflect on leadership. Here are some additional, common sense points that come to mind. (By the way, these are lessons I am still learning. Those who’ve worked with me can attest to that.)

  1. As good a communicator as you may think you are, you can always do better.
  2. It’s all about relationships; that’s the most important (and to a degree, the hardest) thing.
  3. Appreciate, encourage, and learn from difference.
  4. It’s not about you.
  5. Seek out and listen to advice but act quickly to address it when there is a problem.
  6. Whenever possible, address problems face-to-face.
  7. When you mess up (and you will), be quick to apologize and mean it, then move on.
  8. Listen more, speak less.
  9. Trust others and ensure they can do their best work including independent decision-making.
  10. Leadership is political; get used to it.
  11. There are many styles of leadership and just because yours is not the same as someone else’s does not make the other’s style any more or less valid.
  12. Most things truly are out of your control and what you should focus on is simply trying to do your best.
  13. Develop a thick skin, not to be insensitive or ignore valid critique, but rather to keep your own sanity and sense of well-being.
  14. Be quick to forgive and slow to judge.
  15. Model the behavior you’d like to see in others, regardless of how they behave toward you or anyone else.
  16. Treat everyone the same, with respect and dignity, regardless of their rank or authority, or what they can or cannot do for you.
And to squeeze one more thing in here, you never know what other people are going through. Be kind by default and give them the benefit of the doubt.

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