Leading Blog






05.10.19

Great Leaders Have No Rules

Great Leaders Have No Rules

THERE ARE well-intentioned behaviors and assumptions about leadership that we have accepted over the years that really don’t serve us well. Kevin Kruse has identified ten such assumptions and provided effective counter-thinking in Great Leaders Have No Rules.

His goal is to “teach you how to be both the boss everyone wants to work for and the high achiever every CEO wants to hire—all without drama, stress, or endless hours in the office.”

The ten principles highlighted below are well supported with research, the experience of Kruse and many interviews. Some of them will immediately resonate with you, others will take some consideration. Here they are:

1. Close Your Open-Door Policy

The idea is to promote transparency, trust, and information flow. But leapfrogging the chain of command, dependency, and the productivity nightmare it creates, to name a few of the unintended consequences of this idea, make it worth overhauling. It is a passive solution to trust and information flow. It can also discourage autonomy, empowerment. It’s better to have office hours, set ground rules, have weekly one-on-one meetings, and a scheduled system of communication.

2. Shut Off Your Smartphone

While smartphone activities can give you a big dopamine hit, they are distracting, they diminish brainpower, contribute to stress, accidents and fatalities, and smartphone surveillance impedes candor. Put them away and limit your access during the day. It will improve your safety and focus.

3. Have No Rules

Principles do more and go further than any rule ever could. Principles are less micromanaging and more like guardrails. “Instead of rules, leaders need to hire talent who can be trusted, make company values actionable, set guidelines, and be willing to coach those who make honest mistakes.”

4. Be Likable, Not Liked

Wanting to be liked is normal, but it makes it difficult to make tough choices and give candid feedback. Leadership is not about you. It’s about what’s best for those you lead. You can be tough and tender. “You should try to be likable, without caring whether you are liked.” It’s about results.

5. Lead with Love

John Wooden said it best, “I will not like you all the same, but I will love you all the same.” That’s a tough concept to get sometimes. Kruse writes, “Whether I like you, and whether you like me, is irrelevant. In our daily interactions, I will lead with love. Who said leadership is easy?” Like and love are two different things. Like is an emotion. Love is a decision.

6. Crowd Your Calendar

Throw out your to-do list. “Great leaders actually schedule everything. Instead of placing tasks on a to-do list, they pick a date, time, and duration and schedule it on their calendar. This is the only guaranteed way to know that you are investing your minutes in alignment with your values and goals.”

7. Play Favorites

People are different. So, if we are treating them the same, that isn’t fair. Standards apply equally to everyone. But people who perform better and are more engaged deserve to be treated better and have their strengths developed. “Great leaders take the time to identify each person’s strengths and then align opportunities and career path options to take advantage of them.”

8. Reveal Everything (Even Salaries)

Radical transparency “enables team members to move fast, adapt to change, and make wise decisions and reduces their need to knock on your door with ‘got a minute’ questions.”

9. Show Weakness

Being able to show weakness is a sign of courage and confidence. It is most often wise to keep your internal anxieties to yourself, but vulnerability builds trust. A culture of trust and psychological safety reduces the magnitude of mistakes and fosters innovation.

10. Leadership Is Not A Choice

Leadership is influence. In that sense, that includes all of us, all the time. I define leadership as intentional influence so that we see it not as a passive activity but as a condition that we need to take responsibility for. Nevertheless, we are always “on,” and we need to keep that in mind at work, at home, among friends, and with everyone with whom we come into contact. We are representing a worldview. Kruse stresses leading by example—taking responsibility for the change you want to see. “If leadership is influence, then leadership isn’t a choice.”

He concludes with a choice we all need to make. “Will you live your life on autopilot, or will you lead with intent? Are you leading in a positive direction or are you leading in a negative direction? How will you lead today?

One of the great features of Kruse’s book is that he ends each chapter with a section titled, “How Might You Apply This If You’re A … manager, sales professional, sports coach, military officer, and/or parent. Extremely practical and designed to help you implement the principles he discusses immediately. Great Leaders Have No Rules is well-written and persuasive and just what you need to increase your leadership effectiveness.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:23 AM
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