What’s the Best Leadership Advice You’ve Ever Received?

What’s your secret? What was that special tip you received along the way that transformed how you approach leadership? This post will feature just that: a few real leaders, and the advice that continues to guide them.

Kelly McCleary, Sr. Director, Finance Process, Walmart

“If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

“If you think you’re over communicating, it means you’re only missing the mark by a little.”

“Everyone wants to feel valued.” Drives my entire philosophy on engagement.

“You don’t have to act on feedback, just understand the consequences of not.”

“Bosses don’t have the right to leave their offices when they’re in a bad mood.”

Finally, I experienced a life-changing challenge from a senior leader years ago when I was making a passionate pitch for a diversity mentoring program. He respectfully asked me what I’d done lately.  I took him up on that challenge, and began proactively identifying young women and diversity employees to mentor. I learned so much from them, and some of the friendships I developed were deeply rewarding and are still with me today.

Bill Bloom, President, Global Client Services, EXL Service

1. Be the type of person others want to see succeed.

2. Surround yourself with people who are, or have, the potential to be better than you.

I’ve tried to do both, and I think they’ve served me well.

Charlie Coon, Vice President, Travelers Insurance

The best advice I ever received was from an ancient source, The Art of War by Sun Zsu:

“Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death!”

So, roughly translated for the modern world, treat your employees with dignity, respect and kindness and they will follow your lead, be fiercely loyal and you both will share in the success of your endeavors.

There is also the “carrot and the stick.”  While both motivational methods can work, I’ve found the carrot much more effective over the long haul.  To motivate is to change behavior which comes down to two methods: bribery or fear.  In other words, behavior change through the use of incentives or by force.  There are times when you need make corrections using the “stick,” but use it sparingly.

Regarding the carrot, monetary incentives aren’t always necessary (while money is nice). They can be in the form of deserved praise, celebrations for achievement, a hand written note, or some spontaneous fun.

Elizabeth Fortier, Chief Legal Officer, Syncada

Whatever is your long list of priorities, don’t assume others, particularly your boss, care. Make a point to find out others’ needs and concerns first.

This has gone a long way to focusing on the right issues and building stronger relationships.

Jeff Zyskowski, Vice President, Horizon Milling

“Sleep on it.”

Sometimes quick, decisive decisions are necessary, but that is not always the case. My natural tendency is to make decisions, check it off the list and keep moving. My boss once told me when we were working through an issue to “sleep on it.”

Sure enough, after allowing some time to process and not get caught up in the urgency, we were able to come up with a solution that wasn’t on the initial radar and proved to be a good one. Now, when faced with a decision, I ask myself if it requires an immediate decision, or could benefit from some extra time to “sleep on it.”

Thank you to the above people for sharing this information. It’s a great way to help others on their journeys.

It would be great to hear from others, too: what is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received? If not here, please find a way to share it with others.

Have a great week!

  1. cool!


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