#366 from Innovative Leader Volume 7, Number 10          October 1998

101 Secrets Of Leadership
by Gary A. Crow, Ph.D.

Dr. Crow is Executive Director at Lorain County Children Services in Elyria, OH (phone 440-329-5340; email gcrow@ohio.net.

Moving to the head of the line comes through hard work, good luck, and the careful application of intuition and well-developed political horse sense. How can you move into a leadership position on your own initiative, understanding that being the boss and being a leader are not necessarily the same, and often are not?

Start your journey by thinking about people you know who stand out from the crowd, people who are certifiable class acts, people who everyone sees as leaders. What makes them different? First, they are originals. Their style and approach with people and situations are their trademarks. Second, they are not on-again, off-again. They are always uniquely themselves. Third, they usually make it seem easy and natural. Take a closer look and youíll appreciate how hard they work at it. They consciously and purposely do everything they do, with style, all the time, on time, one situation at a time, one relationship at a time, one person at a time.

Genuine leadership isnít grounded in flashy clothes, gestures of affection, superficial interest, staged behavior, or anything else that serves only to call attention to you. Itís grounded in commitment, sincerity, and personal integrity. Itís the stuff from which admiration flows, the special ingredient that sets the interpersonal standard that others aspire to follow. Itís the brand of interpersonal excellence exemplified by those who have carefully cultivated their skills and techniques over time. They may not be born leaders but have certainly learned to lead.

The leadership bottom line is integrity; and following the lead of people who have it is your best path toward the head of the line. If your bottom line is integrity and youíre committed to sticking to the high road with everyone, every time, youíre ready to learn these 101 secrets of leadership (below). What's more, youíre ready to join those at the head of the line in your company or organization.

Since 101 of anything is a lot to remember, use this strategy to develop your personal leadership enhancement guide. Beside each of the numbers, put a 3, 2, or 1. "3" means that this secret is one you know well and follow consistently. "2" means that this secret is one you understand but apply on an on-again, off-again basis. "1" means that this secret isnít a strong area for you and is one where you need to get better at practicing what you preach.

"But these aren't secrets," you say? "I already knew all of this stuff." Well, good for you.

I thought that since I seldom see people who apply most of these techniques and strategies conscientiously and consistently on a day-to-day basis, they must be well-kept secrets. At the same time, I do have the pleasure of seeing the elite few who apply the secrets every day, every time, and with everyone. Those are, of course, also the people who rise to the upper limits of leadership. While most people know better than they do, the leadership superstars are busy doing as well as they know, conscientiously and consistently.

I will now leave you alone to ponder these 101 secrets but will offer a small suggestion before I go. You may be tempted to concentrate your efforts mostly on those secrets where you rate yourself with a "1." Youíll strengthen your weaknesses. That would be a mistake. Instead, put most of your energy into keeping the "3's" consistently at the "3" level and some energy into raising the "2's" to "3's." Youíll be surprised to see that the "1's" begin to improve with little or no specific attention. That's another secret about leaders. They know what they do well and spend virtually all of their time doing it. They gradually find that they have followers to show them how to do the things they don't do well or do them for them. Their followers donít expect them to be perfect. They only expect their leader to do what he or she does well and to do it every time, in every situation, with everyone, no excuses, no exceptions. Sure, it's a heavy responsibility; but youíll see that it is well worth the effort when one day you unexpectedly find yourself at the head of the line.


     __ 1. Understand and champion your company's mission.

     __ 2. Value your company's customers and products.

     __ 3. See company goals as personal action steps.

     __ 4. Be responsive to the needs and interests of customers.

     __ 5. Understand your roles with others, where and how you fit in.

     __ 6. Work within the scope of your responsibilities and authority.

     __ 7. Follow company policies and procedures.

     __ 8. See how your duties/responsibilities relate to other areas of your company.

     __ 9. Understand your company's budget, financial reports, and other management data.

     __ 10. Question the decisions or actions of others you think may cause problems or jeopardize operations.

     __ 11. Respect the confidentiality of team discussions and problem-solving activities.

     __ 12. Support management when you or your co-workers are unhappy with policies and decisions.

     __ 13. Do not pass your frustrations and negative opinions down-the-line to others.

     __ 14. Bring the same energy and commitment to your responsibilities when things arenít going well as you do when they are.

     __ 15. Learn and grow as a participant in your organization from week-to-week.

     __ 16. Accurately understand and value your skills and limitations.

     __ 17. Be well organized and prepared when handling any responsibility.

     __ 18. Handle every task in a timely manner.

     __ 19. Take personal responsibility when you see something that needs done and no one is doing it.

     __ 20. Pitch in and work a little harder, do a little more whenever the opportunity presents itself.

     __ 21. Invest most of your time and energy in taking care of business.

     __ 22. Keep your focus primarily on whatís working, on whatís going well in your company.

     __ 23. Focus most of your attention and energy on how to get ideas to work and away from why they wonít work.

     __ 24. Donít hold yourself out as the standard for how others should think, feel, and behave.

     __ 25. Assume people believe what they say, and donít intentionally misrepresent anything.

     __ 26. Understand and remember that people seldom complain when there isnít a real


     __ 27. Stay open to ideas and suggestions of others.

     __ 28. See and understand problems and ideas from the other person's point of view.

     __ 29. Make sure a job needs doing and is worth doing before expecting others to do it.

     __ 30. Make sure a job can be done before holding anyone accountable for it.

     __ 31. Provide clear instructions and directions for your customers and co-workers.

     __ 32. Develop incremental steps, procedures, and checkpoints for tasks and goals for which youíre responsible.

     __ 33. Help your co-workers understand how their jobs fit in with company goals and activities.

     __ 34. Keep your focus on people's abilities and strengths instead of emphasizing their

limitations and weaknesses.

     __ 35. Tell them, show them, and then tell them what you showed them.

     __ 36. Give people reasons and explanations, when requested for your behavior and actions.

     __ 37. Clearly define and communicate your goals and motivations.

     __ 38. Be clear about what you want and expect from others.

     __ 39. Be sure people know why whatever you do needs doing, why itís important.

     __ 40. Make sure people know how to do what you expect before holding them responsible.

     __ 41. Remember that you cannot pass on your responsibility just because youíve delegated tasks and activities.

     __ 42. Donít delegate duties that require your direct involvement.

     __ 43. Donít delegate a task and then try to manage it.

     __ 44. When delegating, delegate both activities and related functional authority.

     __ 45. Delegate as much scope of authority as necessary to get the job done.

     __ 46. Be familiar with, and know how to use, outside resources to benefit your company and its customers.

     __ 47. Be familiar with, and use, all the internal resources of your company.

     __ 48. Understand, and use, the informal procedures and processes within your company.

     __ 49. Know about and tap the knowledge, skills, and abilities of others.

     __ 50. Make sure that whenever you assign work to others, itís distributed fairly.

     __ 51. Distribute work and responsibilities based on people's strengths, preferred areas, and away from weaknesses.

     __ 52. Donít take advantage of people who cannot refuse.

     __ 53. Donít take advantage of people who are especially good-natured or cooperative.

     __ 54. Donít hold yourself out as necessarily the best judge of how the company environment is for others.

     __ 55. Advocate for your needs and interests within the context of the needs and interests of your company.

     __ 56. Trust your co-workers to act in the best interest of your company and its customers.

     __ 57. Exercise as much personal control as you appropriately can over your work environment.

     __ 58. Spend part of your company time socializing and hanging around.

     __ 59. Donít take credit for the ideas and work of others.

     __ 60. Give credit where and when itís due.

     __ 61. Be sensitive to the motivations and interests of others.

     __ 62. Be open to the feelings and opinions of others.

     __ 63. Value the varying styles and personalities of people.

     __ 64. Be patient and tolerant with others.

     __ 65. Anticipate problems and opportunities.

     __ 66. Deal with problems and conflicts as soon as you become aware of them.

     __ 67. Donít let your sense of responsibility get in the way of your sense of humor.

     __ 68. Be slow to confront or argue.

     __ 69. Fit the intensity and forcefulness of your reactions and criticisms to the seriousness or importance of the problem or incident.

     __ 70. Be assertive but tactful.

     __ 71. Ask people to help solve your problems instead of simply trying to get them to accept your solutions.

     __ 72. Be hard on problems and soft on people.

     __ 73. Deal more with the problem and less with the people when people are upset or


     __ 74. Be flexible and willing to compromise.

     __ 75. Do not deal with people in win/lose terms.

     __ 76. Accept shared responsibility for assuring others get their interests met, that they get a good deal.

     __ 77. Remember and own what youíve said, agreed to, and what youíve done.

     __ 78. Work to decrease use of power and control and to increase your influence.

     __ 79. See each of your decisions as an opportunity to improve conditions for  customers or co-workers.

     __ 80. Try to understand the what/why of problems before taking action.

     __ 81. Evaluate the cost/benefit of actions before taking them.

     __ 82. Make the difficult or unpopular decisions and accept responsibility for them when you believe itís necessary.

     __ 83. Be prepared to handle people's being upset or unhappy with you at times.

     __ 84. Understand there are usually several ways to get the job done and not a best way.

     __ 85. Do not over-manage or over-control activities or people.

     __ 86. Attend to details without getting bogged down in them.

     __ 87. Understand the 80% rule: not until 80% of the people involved in an activity are doing it right 80% of the time should you expect 100% performance.

     __ 88. Give people clear, frequent, and accurate feedback.

     __ 89. Spend more time telling people what theyíre doing right than what theyíre doing wrong.

     __ 90. Assume people are trying to do well, are trying to succeed.

     __ 91. If people are not succeeding, assume they donít know how, donít think it matters, or are being prevented from succeeding.

     __ 92. Teach others to work smarter instead of pressuring them to work harder.

     __ 93. Be quick to praise and slow to criticize.

     __ 94. Donít praise people for a job done less well than you expected.

     __ 95. Hold others responsible only for what they can do and can control.

     __ 96. Handle it as a training opportunity when people cannot do what you expect.

     __ 97. Handle it as a leadership opportunity when people wonít do what you expect; but be sure not to confuse will not and cannot.

     __ 98. See attitude problems in others as leadership opportunities, and intransigent attitude problems as leadership failures.

     __ 99. Compliment publicly, criticize privately.

     __ 100. Before criticizing others, make sure they knew what behavior was expected, knew how to do what was expected, could have done what was expected, and actually didnít behave reasonably and responsibly.

     __ 101. When criticizing anyone, keep it short, limited to your immediate point, and end by affirming the person's value and abilities.

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