Sunday, October 5, 2008

Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make

David Mays' book notes on The Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make, by Hanz Finzel:

Leadership is a lot more intense than I ever imagined. Further, it can be dangerous. "We hold the power to do irreparable damage to our followers by the mistakes we make." (14) "The greatest lessons I've learned about good leadership have been through my own mistakes." (16)

Chapter 1. The Top-Down Attitude
Autocratic domineering. This is the mother of all hang-ups. It is foundational to all the rest of the mistakes. "If you have it, you will spread it to everything your leadership hands touch." (25)

Chapter 2. Putting Paperwork before Peoplework
"People are opportunities, not interruptions." (43) "All Task-oriented type A personalities must learn to slow down and allow people into our lives." "There is still no substitute for quiet, prolonged exposure of one soul to another." (44)

"…We have subtly made task orientation more desirable in our leader selection process." [But] "leadership is essentially a people business. Experts confirm that the most effective leaders spend most of their time being with people and solving people
problems." (49)

Chapter 3. The Absence of Affirmation
"We wildly underestimate the power of the tiniest personal touch of kindness." (61)

"Humans…need to have their emotional batteries charged often." (62)

Chapter 4. No Room for Mavericks
"Mavericks [pioneers] can save us from the slide toward institutionalism." (73)

"One of the best ways to take the wind out of the sails of visionaries is to send their ideas to a committee." (81)

Not all troublemakers and malcontents are worth the pain to have around. (85)

Chapter 5. Dictatorship in Decision Making
"The major players in any organization are like its stockholders: They should have a say in its direction." (89)

"It is impossible to learn anything important about anyone until we get him or her to disagree with us; it is only in contradiction that character is disclosed." (93, quoting Sydney J. Harris)

Chapter 6. Dirty Delegation - Refusing to Relax and Let Go
"Nothing frustrates those who work for you more than sloppy delegation with too many strings attached." (111)

"We must be careful not to micromanage people to death. Delegation means giving people the freedom to decide how jobs will be done." (116)

Chapter 7. Communication Chaos - Singing from the Same Page in the Hymnal
"Rumor mills are part and parcel of every work group." "…people can begin to create their own reality if the true reality is not communicated." "Never assume that anyone knows anything. This is a core leadership principle. We can never communicate enough in our organizations." (130)

Chapter 8. Missing the Clues of Corporate Culture
"Corporate culture is 'the way we do things around here.'" (151) "An organizations' corporate culture is the way insiders behave based on the values and group traditions they hold." (152) It is a set of unwritten rules. Each organization has a unique personality. "Corporate culture is a powerful force. It can at times be so strong that people develop a religious attitude toward their company, so devoted they are to its culture." (154)

Chapter 9. Success without Successors
"Mentoring is a nonnegotiable function of successful leadership." (177)

"Success without a successor is failure." (179 quoting Warren Webster)

Chapter 10. Failure to Focus on the Future
"Vision is an effective leader's chief preoccupation." (201)

"Leadership is seeing the consequences of our actions further in the future than those around us can." (205 quoting Bill Gothard)

"The most notable trait of great leaders, certainly of great change leaders, however, is their quest for learning." (206 quoting John Kotter in Leading Change)

"Leaders are paid to be dreamers. In fact, the higher you go in leadership, the more your work is about the future. I have very little influence on what is going to happen in my organization in the next six months, but I am making daily decisions that could have a profound impact on us five years down the road." (208)

Read all the notes. Buy the book.

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