Ten principles for leaders

Here are ten timeless leadership principles from Warren Bennis’s book, On Becoming a Leader.

1. Manage the dream. Your job as a leader is to communicate the vision of your company so clearly that people want to come work for you, and ultimately give their hearts and minds to the cause. 
2. Embrace error. Any vision worth accomplishing will involve a lot of trial and error. Your job as a leader is to encourage risk taking so long as it doesn’t “knock you out of the game.” The bigger risk is to do nothing.
3. Encourage reflective back talk. Have people in your life who will tell you the truth. As a leader, you’ll almost always get a filtered version of it from your direct reports. 
4. Encourage dissent. Surround yourself with people who will challenge your thinking. Your initial ideas will often be off the mark in some crucial way – open communication among your team can help you find the right answer, faster.
5. Display optimism, faith and hope. In times of trouble, your team will look to you for how they should respond. As a leader, your emotions are contagious. 
6. Expect the best from your people. You’ll often see more potential in your people than they see in themselves. The best people thrive when you show you trust them to take on difficult challenges that will stretch their abilities.
7. Develop a sense of touch. One of the most important skills effective leaders have is the ability to figure out where the organization needs to go based on the external environment. Finding a compelling place for you and your team in the future is critical.
8. Take the long view. While the short-term is important, the long-term is perhaps even more important. 
9. Maintain stakeholder symmetry. There are a number of stakeholder groups you’ll need to balance – some internal, and some external. Never let the balance get too far out of whack.
10. Create strategic alliances and partnerships. The smartest and most effective leaders don’t try to go it alone – externally along with internally. Finding partners who see the same future as you become powerful allies in making it happen.

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