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Blog 318: The Five Shifts I Made To Be A Better Leader

I have been a CEO for nearly 30 years, which surprises me. I had to count on my fingers!

These four things I figured out have helped me be a better leader and, ultimately, a happier, more content business owner.

Here they are, just for you.

1. Expect and plan for disruptions. A little healthy paranoia goes a long way! Much more often than you would believe, Tom and I will talk about what outside forces could come in and cripple us.

It would be best to keep thinking about how to innovate vs. protecting and perfecting what you have in place. When you shift to a ‘protection mindset,’ you create blind spots that will get you in trouble. Protecting what you have achieved can feel right, but unless you’re thinking about what comes next and where you could go, you’re in danger of being wrecked by some disruptive force.

Check out The Disruption Game Plan by Eleanor Winton.

2. Worry about your clients, not your business. A long time ago, Steve Jobs said that the secret of Apple was figuring out where they wanted to take the customer. It’s a compelling speech, and you have probably seen it. There can be a temptation to see clients as a financial means to an end, a source of revenue. Don’t make this mistake.

Worry about how you can do what you do a little better. Worry about how you can eliminate friction and sacrifice. Worry about surprising your clients. Don’t ever think about how you can sell them something else.

Solve their problems generously. Make significant, tangible actions that make life better for your clients and make life better for your business.

Check out The Customer Copernicus by Charlie Dawson.

3. Balance. Leadership is all about balance. Inspire, but also hold people accountable. Focus on production, but also on production capability. Promote work-life balance. Leadership is about yin and yang, but ineffective leaders emphasize one aspect over the other.

Check out Answer Intelligence: Raise Your AQ by Dr. Brian Glibowski.

4. Forget about command and control. I’ve been excited about this one since I started the blog; I will make it no. 1! Command and control is a top-down approach to leadership, and it strikes me as authoritative. It is founded on and emphasizes a distinction between executives and workers. This works excellently in bureaucratic organizations where senior management holds privilege and power.

I’m unemployable. I could never work this way. I’ve had precisely three employers in my entire life that I admired, two of whom I had at the same time as a teenager. I have blogged about them both before.

5. Vulnerability is vital, as is comfort in admitting mistakes. I could write all day about those! As a leader, you must maintain your love of justice, fairness and equality and stand up for those with a quieter voice within your organization.

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