12 Wishes for Leadership in 2010

Last year, when I had 3 or 4 readers for this blog 🙂 , I published a Leadership Wish List for 2009. Most of you haven’t seen it. And, most of my wishes remain unfulfilled, but I’m quite patient. So, I’ve updated it a bit, adding some new thoughts and reposting. What would you add?

1. For leaders to slow down and be intentional about the work they do. Being swept away by “busy-ness” can be responsible for poor decisions. Reflection time, journaling, prayer, meditation ?€“ whatever ?€“ are the stuff behind the building of great leadership.

2. For followers to take an active stand against leaders who use their power to advance themselves to the detriment of the “greater good”. Followers create leaders, and get what they vote for, agree to, and follow. Its time to consider the the role we all play in ineffective and unethical leadership.

3. For leaders to “get” that they must listen, ask, delegate, empower, develop others. How different it would be if all leaders just chose one of these to add to their leadership skills (how cool would it be if we all listened more?).

4. For leaders to understand that when they do the stuff in #3, they don`t have to work so hard, and that they can focus on doing the things that will make them great (developing and communicating a vision, influencing others, etc.). Amazing stuff, that list in #3. Try it, and consider what you will do with your free time.

5. For leaders to get into the regular habit of requesting feedback from others. And then listening without judgment to the feedback, saying “thank you” and deciding whether to take action on it. Even if the feedback received is less than fully honest (not unusual), it shows others that a leader is willing to improve.

6. For the “tipping point” that is needed for all leaders to realize that they must stop micro-managing the tasks and become facilitators of process. In other words, let go of the need and the act of control. Hire and lead the right people, and stop trying to make them do things your way.

7. For organizations to focus their development efforts and dollars on their best leaders. Even in these times, organizations are throwing their training dollars around and allowing anyone to tap into them. Focus those dollars on the few who are already great (but want to get greater) and notice the amazing effect it has on business.

8. For leaders to truly embrace the concepts of “work-life” balance, not just with their talk, but with their actions. Horror stories abound of long-term “required” twelve or fourteen hour days. A leader will get the most out of people if you trust them to “get the work done” and encourage them to assure they are “balanced” between work and other activities. And?€¦.how about modeling balance yourself?

9. For leaders to learn to listen to themselves. To stop and listen to that little voice that lets them know when they are on the right track (or off the track).

10. For the press to concentrate on writing about leaders that are doing the right things. How uplifting and inspiring to hear stories about good leadership! I know they`re out there! I`ve met them, you`ve met them, and they are the quiet ones we don`t hear about that are changing lives.

11. For the word “leader” to be reserved only for those who are working for the greater good. Unethical and immoral leaders who abuse the power they’ve been given don’t deserve the title of “leader”. Those who follow and support evil leaders should remember their responsibilities too – see #2 above.

12. For organizations to start supporting and promoting the leaders who get the “people stuff”: promoting those who have been successful only on the basis of their knowledge and achievement isn’t doing our organizations any good. Leaders must have the “soft skills” as well as be knowledgable and results-oriented.

How about you? What are your “leadership wishes” for 2010?

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

10 comments on “12 Wishes for Leadership in 2010

  1. Mary Jo,
    I will have to spend some time thinking about my own wish list but this list is fantastic. The one word that stands out to me most is “LISTEN.” Several of these points incorporate listening — listening to others, listening to feedback, listening to yourself. Not always easy, but certainly important. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Mary Jo,

    Appreciate you sharing your reflections. You have hit the nail on the head with point 6. To develop the competency to be a facilitator of the process is a tricky one. Great leaders many times discover this the hard way, trial and error. However, the resulting “tipping point” pays dividends many times over.


  3. Becky, you won’t find it surprising then, that one of the top “competencies” that leaders need to work on is to TRULY LISTEN. Thanks for your comments.

    Lisa, here’s to slowing down! Especially during the holidays. I wish you the best with that.

    Michael, I hope so too. But I suspect I’ll be reposting the list next year.

    Garrick, I’d love it if the tipping point tipped and leaders learned #6. It would force my retirement :)!

  4. Hi Mary Jo,

    Although it’s not an aspect those in leadership roles can work on, I think your second point is very important one as it impacts greatly on how the concept of leadership is viewed. Obviously, if we want the right people in charge to serve us leaders, we need to make this role appear attractive, something regrettably it doesn’t look like today. Of course, as you pointed out, the onus is really on us since, how we choose to be led lends greatly to who we’ll allow to pick up those reins.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful list, and like everyone else, not surprised to see listening being a key trait to becoming a successful leader. For me, that’s the catalyst for starting down the path for all the other steps.

  5. Tanveer – I agree – being in leadership is tough. But being a follower bears some responsibility too. We tend to forget that part, and prefer to blame failing leaders on the leaders themselves. Food for thought – Tiger Woods. It appears that he had many of us fooled. Wonder what our role, as followers, is as we are being deceived (i.e., is ignorance bliss or is there something we should have been doing or looking for? Does it matter in his case?)?

  6. Mary Jo,

    I’m so impressed with your list. Really hits on key points that are critical for organizations to be truly healthy and successful.

    Re. #10 and the press, glad you brought up Tiger in your comment to Tanveer. Look at how much press has been given to Tiger compared to all the positive role models out there – in golf alone, not to mention the business world – who could be highlighted for doing the right things.

    #2 is a hot button for me because I’ve heard employees complain loudly and often about a manager but never confront that person or bring the issues to executives who could do something. That ties in with taking personal RESPONSIBILITY for what goes on in every aspect of one’s life.

    Of course, I would add ENCOURAGEMENT to the list because it’s one of the most powerful and underutilized skills. A lot of people think that means giving advice or guiding a person to do what you think they should do. In reality, it entails a lot of listening, which IS on your list. People don’t get enough recognition, affirmation and support; and encouragement goes a long way to helping people feel appreciated and valued.

  7. Meridth, thanks for your kind comments.You are spot on with the encouragement addition. Thanks, I agree whole heartedly and it’s a great addition to the list.

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