There are many elements to being an effective leader. These are the key pieces to me.

Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you:

  • Talent pool:  Find and nurture the best.  Focus on A players and work on moving B’s to A’s.  Take care of and reward your best. Always recruit the best people.
  • Put the best people on the biggest opportunities and then get out of the way
  • Managing less is managing better; focus on the critical few; push decision-making down the organization.  Show respect and instill confidence.  By managing less, leaders are freed up to focus on “big thoughts” and be more creative.  Emphasize vision; not supervision.
  • Empower the Front line: Work out sessions; treat the front line with respect.  Ask and value their opinion. Teach, learn, implement
  • Not having an opinion is not acceptable.  We cannot have passive leadership
  • Challenge the team to challenge you-it is okay to disagree now and then for the right reasons

Know what you are striving for:

  • Set a Vision that every employee can remember: Speed (decisive), Simplicity, Self-confidence
  • Create a burning platform for change – It is excitement and a sense of purpose that makes for great organizations.
  • It is better to swing and miss than to not swing at all.  Foster an environment where calculated risk taking is expected.  Don’t punish failure but rather, chase out apathy at all costs. Find ways to help people take risks and win.
  • Know cause and effect.  Identify your critical few priorities (3-5 maximum) and then invest time and money in the key levers required to deliver on them.   Avoid death by 1000 cuts.
  • Competition—Always keep 5 key questions in mind:
    • What does our competitive environment look like?
    • In the last 3 years, what have our competitors done to us?
    • In the same period, what have we done to them?
    • How might they attack us in the future?
    • What are our plans to leapfrog them?

Measure the Right things:

  • Share information—When people have the same information, they usually arrive at the same conclusions
  • Let Data be the Referee, spend time and money on the opportunities, not the squeaky wheel
  • Try to keep measurement simple and prioritized; three common core scorecard elements for team and three for each employee
  • Balance long term with short term, music creator with music user
  • Deal with reality—face the facts and deal with them decisively and quickly.
  • Losing a Member is a serious blow to the business. Every contact with a Customer is a “moment of truth”; the ultimate brand confirmation


  • Know what your personal brand is and what you want it to be
  • A self assessment is the first place to start: compliment your strengths/weaknesses (everyone has them)
  • Lead with humility, passion and an uncompromising desire to win, to achieve
  • Keep language clear, direct, informal and often; most of all two-way
  • Be positive, embrace humor, enjoy your team
  • People need to have a voice and to be treated with dignity
  • Integrity without compromise
  • 4-Es of Leadership: personal ENERGY to deal with change; able to create an atmosphere that ENERGIZES others, the EDGE to make difficult decisions, the ability to consistently EXECUTE.
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    2 Responses to “Core Attributes of Leadership”

    1. Sheri Mellin says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been fortunate to have built several successful teams for two national companies. Every person I hired is smarter then me – no kidding! It a great pleasure to have watched them bloom and succeed.

    2. Tamara says:

      Some of your approach sounds rather confrontational, when it could be more effective if it were reflective… Instead of “what have we done to each other” perhaps “what have we done to ourselves?” would yield more truth.

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