8 counterintuitive leadership tips

8 counterintuitive leadership tips

Business and IT leaders share an example of how they’ve turned their backs on conventional leadership advice - for the better

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Don’t stress about a competitor's every move

Ed Laczynski, CEO and co-founder, Zype: "You don't need to feel obligated to respond to every piece of news or conversation about perceived or actual competitors, especially internally within your organization. There is so much focus required to build and grow a successful company – on your customers, your team, your operations, your message and values – that any time spent worrying about the competition distracts you from what is really important."

Look beyond experience and education in hires

 "I truly believe our success lies in this values-based approach, which goes against most of the advice I've received."

Brian Murphy, founder and CEO, ReliaQuest: “I firmly believe in hiring people based on their values, not their experience or education. The four I emphasize are accountability, helpfulness, adaptability, and focus. At ReliaQuest, we have a 90 percent employee retention rate, which is particularly high considering that 84 percent of cybersecurity workers were open to new employment opportunities last year. But I truly believe our success lies in this values-based approach, which goes against most of the advice I've received. We foster a culture in which empowered employees are valued more for their willingness to learn than their formal education and an accountability-based work ethic means better customer service and loyal customers."

There is no model for the perfect leader

"Stop debating whether it’s authenticity or tribal leadership or situational leadership."

Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, authors of "Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World," coming soon from Harvard Business Review Press: "We need to stop with the models. Stop with the 360-degree assessments. Stop with the minute and meaningless parsing of how to move your 'effective communications' score from a 3.8 to a 3.9, while also figuring out why your peers gave you a 4.1 on 'strategy' yet your boss gave you a 3.0. Stop with the endless lists of abstractions. Stop debating whether it’s authenticity or tribal leadership or situational leadership or level-five leadership or whatever the latest leadership-nirvana thing is. Stop with the one-size-fits-all.

Instead, let’s get humble – the experience of the people on our teams and in our organizations is a true thing, and we don’t simply get to choose what it is. Let’s get curious about that experience and how our actions shape it. And let’s follow our own reactions to real people in the real world.

When we feel uplifted by what someone does or says, we need to stop and ask why. When we feel a fresh rush of energy after talking with someone, we need to stop and ask why. When we feel, in response to another human being, that mysterious attraction tugging on us – like a fish on a line, or like a needle twitching in a compass, an attraction that says Here, something is happening, something true and visceral and substantial, something that will change, however slightly, the arc of our future – we need to stop and ask why.

We need to get to know real leaders in the real world, and we need to come to know them as followers ourselves. Then we can start learning."

[ Get lessons learned from your peers in our report from HBR Analytic Services: Transformation Masters: The New Rules of CIO Leadership. ]

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