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7 Principles of Thinking Like a Leader Cheat Sheet by

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This leadership guide uses seven principles of thinking like a leader as a foundation for building leadership skills.

1. Keep a focus on the mission and higher intent

Never lose sight of the mission, purpose, and results you need to achieve. Due to the complexity of their duties, leaders are often drawn toward unusual and critical events that force them in different direct­ions. While these diffic­ulties often need to be attended to, don't lose sight of the higher intent of the organi­zation.

2. Set Big Hairy Audacious Goals

Almost anyone can achieve easy goals, but do you really believe that is what your compet­itors are aiming for? It's tempting to simplify your compet­ition by treating them as rigid or simply reactive. Good leaders use their visioning skills to set BHAGs with a thorough unders­tanding of how to reach them... not with reckless abandon.

3. Coach your followers

There are a few things that you need to keep a pulse on because they can have real damaging effects on your organi­zation, but the vast majority of objectives and details can be handled by your followers. Yes, they will make mistakes. Bad leaders chew their buttocks off; good leaders know that mistakes provide one of the most valued learning opport­unities there is.

4. Combat complexity and change with learning

Not only must you coach your followers, you must also change the culture to a mindset of a learning organi­zation. You cannot be the only coach — the entire organi­zation needs to know the skills, have the techno­logies, and be in climates that allow people to help develop others through both formal and informal experi­ences.

5. Set the example: Be, Know, Do

You are a role model of the organi­zation who sets the standard by being a person of good character, knowing your job, and doing all that matters.


6. Flatten the organi­zation by replacing

Flatten the organi­zation by replacing hierar­chies with networks

While it might be comforting to think that inform­ation should flow smoothly up to you, and in return, you reply with commands, the world is simply too complex and moving too fast.

Vertical leadership are organi­zations where leaders are in a formal positions of power at the top of the hierarchy and whose commands typically run down the hierarchy, while inform­ation flows up it. In simple enviro­nments, this can work quite well.

However, if we view leadership as being a total system, rather than lying in individual power, then we have horizontal or flat leadership that are networks of people where inform­ation and commands flow in all directions so that change and complexity are rapidly mastered.

7. Create and sustain diversity and inclusion

Having biases against people who are different greatly hinders your ability to gain new insights. Diversity is about empowering people. It makes an organi­zation effective by capita­lizing on all of the strengths of each employee. It is not EEO or Affirm­ative Action — these are laws and policies. Diversity is unders­tan­ding, valuing, and using the differ­ences in every person. Mastering diversity leads to inclusion where all people feel they are highly valued for their unique­ness. In turn, the organi­zation benefits from the synerg­istic effects of a cohesive team who bring an array of experi­ences to the table.

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