This Is The Best Leadership Advice

The Best Leadership Advice I Ever Received

Rockwell Baseball
“Baseball” by Norman Rockwell

She said, “Stop trying to be perfect.  It isn’t necessary.”

That little piece of advice offered by a former manager was a game changer for me.  It released me from the impossible pursuit of perfection and enabled me to feel okay with making mistakes.

It also allowed me to make quicker decisions, knowing that sometimes an imperfect decision is better than no decision at all.

That’s my “best leadership advice.”  What’s yours?

Students of Leadership Offer Their Advice

On the first day of teaching my Leadership class at the university I invite my students to answer this question – “what’s the best leadership advice you ever received. ”  They write it down and then pair up with others in the room to share.

After the exercise I ask them to raise their hands if they heard at least one piece of leadership advice from another student that was different from their own.  All the students raise their hands.

Then I ask them to raise their hands if they heard at least one piece of advice that was identical to their own.  Only a smattering raise their hands, if that.

“The Best” Leadership is Relative

The results of this exercise reinforces for me how different leadership can be across situations and people. We see leadership through the multi-colored lens of our unique experiences and the people we encounter in our lives.  

As many times as I’ve facilitated this activity in both academic and corporate settings, you’d think I’ve heard all the advice.  Not so.  Sure there are the repeats, but I hear something new every time.

Following is a selection of the fresh advice shared by my students this semester, categorized for easy viewing.

See if you discover anything new.

The Best Leadership Advice

We see leadership through multi-colored lenses
We see leadership through multi-colored lenses

Advice for leading others

  1. Be a servant.
  2. Be selfless.
  3. Leadership is earned not taken.
  4. Have compassion for others. / Treat people the way you want to be treated.
  5. Be memorable and inspiring.
  6. Listen to others.
  7. Work with respect.
  8. Get to know your people personally, but maintain professionalism.
  9. Be there.  Make their day.
  10. You can’t make everyone happy.
  11. Include input from others before making a decision. / Give credit where credit is due.
  12. Leadership is influence.

Advice for leading ourselves

  1. In order to successfully lead others, you must first be able to lead yourself.  Also, in order to successfully manage others, you must first be able to manage yourself.
  2. Character is what you do when nobody is watching.
  3. Believe that you deserve and have the ability to be a leader.
  4. Be honest and do the right thing.
  5. In order to be an efficient leader and manager, you have to have a drive for results.
  6. Know yourself and act from sincerity.
  7. Keep an open-mind.  Never walk into something close-minded.
  8. Lead by example and not by commands alone.
  9. Humble yourself.
  10. Hold yourself responsible to a higher standard than anybody expects of you.
  11. Step up to the plate, let people know your interests.
  12. Don’t give up. / Finish what you start.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received, and from whom did you receive it?  Please share your comments below. 

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