What great leaders do differently

Things to Remember from Your Manager

It’s often easier to identify ‘what not to do’ when leading than to articulate what makes great leaders effective. Here’s a prime example of ‘what not to do’ from a real live client I attempted to work with a few years ago.
My client, Power-seeking Patty, had some challenges with the people she managed. She decided the best way to handle it was to send a memo to her team with the following title and subsequent bullet points:
Things to Remember from Your Manager
  • I am in charge.
  • I will make the decisions as to who, what, where, when and how things and/or people will or will not change.

As you can imagine the rest of the memo didn’t win her any points. How much influence do you think Power-seeking Patty had with her team? Combine that with the fact that she was not coach-able (that’s a surprise, right?) and you have a recipe for dysfunction and turnover.

Let’s take a look at 8 things great leaders do differently:


  1. Rely on influence rather than positional power to lead others. Ineffective leaders use their position to lead because they have no influence.
  2. Lead themselves first. Ineffective leaders lack discipline and self-control; they react rather than respond.
  3. Care about the people in the org chart, not just the org chart. In effective leaders forget that the people around them are critical to the success of the organization.
  4. Are assertive without being a jerk. Ineffective leaders go beyond assertiveness to a place that’s not helpful for anyone.
  5. Are steady and fairly predictable. Ineffective leaders change their mind as often as the wind blows and it’s tough to predict how they might respond in a given situation.
  6. Walk the talk. Ineffective leaders talk a great talk but have no personal follow-through.
  7. Give credit to the team for success. Ineffective leaders are threatened by a high performing team.
  8. Serve. Ineffective leaders want to be served.

Where do you fall on this list? Is it time to hold up the mirror and challenge yourself to enhance your leadership skills? It’s never too late to be the leader you might have been.

“Leadership is the person you are and the influence and impact you have on other people.”
James Hunter
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.”
Hebrews 13:7a