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6 Steps to Being a Better Leader

A few weeks ago, I discovered the magic of del.icio.us and--since then--traffic to this blog has increased dramatically. If you are a new reader, you might be wondering about the origin of the blog's name. So, please, allow me to explain.

I firmly believe that integrity is what leadership is all about. I've spent nearly three decades in leadership positions, presiding over technology workers and fry cooks, clerical staffs and salespeople, ambitious up-and-comers and working stiffs, highly paid professionals and nonprofit volunteers. And I keep returning to the same conclusion: people are searching for leaders with integrity who prove their credibility continuously.

In , credibility means consistency between an organization's spoken values and its leaders' actual behavior. To prove your credibility as a leader, you must habitually demonstrate the organization's values in action each day. Through my experience and research, I've identified six behaviors that are common to values-based leaders. I refer to these practices as "Vital Integrities." Understand these principles, and display them in action each day, and you'll have far greater impact as a leader.

What follows is a list of the six Vital Integrities, along with some brief descriptions excerpted from my book of the same name:

Accept challenges and take risks: "Values-based leaders are risk takers, and more importantly, risk seekers, adventurers who position themselves to discover new challenges. They volunteer for the toughest jobs and always question the status quo. Risk seeking separates these leaders from the yesteryear-theory bureaucrats who sit around supervising the work. Why is that important? Leadership is proactive, as people can only follow leaders who are moving."

Master both listening and speaking: "The way we communicate with our employees impacts how workers understand our messages, and what actions, if any, they take in response. Effective communication goes beyond making certain workers understand our instructions. Values-based leadership must build ongoing 'communication relationships,' in which people feel included, appreciated, and respected. To achieve these goals, leaders need to use clear language, master the art of storytelling, and listen with their eyes as well as their ears."

Live by the values they profess: "Consistency between an organization's stated values and its leaders' actual behavior is critical to credibility. When there is discrepancy between what leaders say and what they do, employees immediately and rightly recognize those leaders as frauds."

Freely give away their authority:
"Surprisingly, it is the expectations micromanagers have for themselves that must change. Leaders who consider themselves highly effective are more apt to view all workers as reachable, teachable, and worthy of attention. Managers who attribute their employees' accomplishments to their own success as leaders will probably help their workers grow. You must believe, regardless of your perceptions of each employee's potential, in your own abilities to teach and inspire."

Recognize the best in others: "The most overlooked aspect of the whole idea of ranking is the frustration that leads many companies to implement differentiation in the first place. The term forced ranking says it all. It highlights deeper leadership issues--specifically, issues with managers who fear singling people out for outstanding efforts, who fail to address poor performance, and who neglect their duty to fire employees when necessary. If, as the name implies, we must force managers to perform these aspects of their jobs, they are ill-equipped for their leadership roles to begin with."

Have a vision and convince others to share it: "Under the widespread illusion that reciting financial data somehow inspires performance, managers behave like walking-talking annual reports. Net profit this quarter is up 20 percent over the same period last year. But we're still below budget and need everyone's added effort. Without an inspiring vision from their leaders, employees will struggle to discern any link between their private ambitions and the company's actual mission. And leaders who fail to communicate messages that inspire trust will find leadership unnecessarily difficult."

If you're interested in learning more, you can download the Introduction to Vital Integrities here for free. And I hope you'll participate by regularly commenting on the posts. In the meantime, welcome!
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Hi George,

Can I ask what the magic is specifically? I use deli.cio.us to bookmark things, but I don't how it is used to get more traffic.


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