A Leadership Checklist

I’m not God’s gift to leadership. I have many shortcomings. I have good days, however, and I’ve learned, over time, how to string more good days together than bad ones.

These are the values I think are important in a leader and ones which anyone who is given the privilege to people should aim to achieve.

  1. Never seek attention for yourself. You actually shine a whole lot more when those for whom you are responsible succeed, and you make fewer enemies. Shy away from the spotlight at every opportunity.
  2. Eschew the small circle, the clique. Surely you will have friends, but, when it comes to your job as a leader, treat everyone equally, evaluating every circumstance as unemotionally and in as unattached a way as you can.
  3. Value every single employee. Don’t pull the rug out from anyone by changing their schedules, responsibilities, and expectations at a whim. Everyone is equally deserving of having their time and contributions honored and obliged. You couldn’t do what you do without them.
  4. Treat administrative assistants with respect. Very little of what we do would be possible without the selfless contributions and talents of the administrative assistant.
  5. Tolerate people’s personality differences. That one colleague who doesn’t eat with everyone else and doesn’t hang out after events isn’t a misanthrope; he or she’s an introvert who needs time to re-energize from the energy-draining challenge people present. (If you’re an introvert like me, you can relate.)
  6. Don’t set people up to fail by trying to turn people against them. Everyone deserves a chance to write their own story.
  7. Always choose the truth over an embellishment. Hyper-intelligent people easily see through untruths and come to resent them.
  8. Hold people as accountable as you can given the few levers you have to do so, but accentuate the positives that come from that accountability, because they are real.
  9. Keep meetings short and as infrequent as possible, lest people zone out or start to skip or dread attending them.
  10. Keep emails as short as possible, or at least highlight the key pieces for a TL;DR version. Otherwise, people just delete them.
  11. Remember that, despite what people say about priorities, this is a job, something we do to pay the bills so that the people we love and who love us can live the lives they spend with us less stressfully and more happily. We get paid for this; we don’t live for this. If you’re living for this, re-evaluate your priorities, because they are leading you to a place that will surely disappoint.
  12. Realize that your job is always to give space to others for them to succeed, not to bring credit to yourself. In other words, see #1.
  13. See #12.

About Ray Klump

Professor and chair of Mathematics and Computer Science Director, Master of Science in Information Security Lewis University http://online.lewisu.edu/ms-information-security.asp, http://online.lewisu.edu/resource/engineering-technology/articles.asp, http://cs.lewisu.edu. You can find him on Google+.

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