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Steven Howard’s Rules of Great Leadership

Every leader needs a code of leadership.

For me, my leadership code is the foundation of my personal leadership values and codified in my 21 Rules of Great Leadership:

  1. Leadership is about both people and results. If you have to neglect one, neglect the results for these will come in time when you have developed your people.
  2. Great leaders are great listeners. They know they learn more from listening than from speaking.
  3. Great leadership happens at all levels of an organization, not just in the executive suites or ownership ranks.

    Rules of Great Leadership


  4. People development is the single most important long-term priority and responsibility of all leaders, at all levels of an organization. Great leaders ensure that this happens.
  5. Great leaders are made through circumstances, experiences, reflection, and skill enhancement.
  6. Great leadership is honed by reflection, mindfulness, compassion, and action. It is enhanced via continuous learning and improvement.
  7. When great leadership is exhibited at all levels of an organization, competitive advantage ensues.
  8. Great leaders create more leaders, not just followers.
  9. Great leaders know they cannot lead everyone. Some people may not want to be led by them. When this happens agree to go your separate ways respectfully.
  10. Great leadership is achieving results through others while enhancing the skills and talents of team members.
  11. A focus on people development is one of the most important factors that differentiates great leaders from good leaders.
  12. Great leaders practice Leadership Accountability, holding themselves and other leaders accountable for their leadership behaviors, actions, and for making ethical decisions.
  13. Great leaders give team members a sense of purpose and a compelling context for committing to buy-in.Rules of Great Leadership
  14. Great leaders give team members appropriate levels of autonomy and authority.
  15. Great leaders create a safe environment where mistakes are tolerated (and learned from) and where accountability is fair and unbiased.
  16. Great leaders devote significant energy and time clarifying and understanding the perspectives, ideas, concerns, and questions of others.
  17. Great leaders do not see clarification questions from team members and peers as push-back.
  18. Great leaders assert their right to express their viewpoints, concerns, and questions to senior leaders and team members in a professional and respectful manner.
  19. Great leaders show empathy to team members by understanding the emotions and feelings they are going through, particularly during times of change.
  20. The leadership behaviors of great leaders are almost always fully congruent with their self-understood and deeply believed leadership philosophy and leadership mindset. Any incongruences are usually the exceptions that prove the rule.
  21. Everyone needs a code they can lead by. That is why great leaders have their own written leadership philosophy that strongly influences how they interpret reality and guides them on how to react to people, events, and situations.

What rules would you add to this list? Please share your suggestions and ideas in the comments section below.



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