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This blog is provided by Ron Riggio, author and Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Becoming a Better Leader: Daily Leadership Development that aired on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021. Ron recently published a new book called Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader.
How to turn experiences into valuable leadership lessons
What is Wisdom?
I found myself pondering this question the other day and I think I have an answer: Wisdom comes from a combination of learning from experience, reflecting deeply on those experiences, and applying the scientific method (that is, trying to find objective support for what you have learned, and/or testing whether what you have learned, or what you think you have learned, is valid).
Here are some leadership lessons that I have learned from the combination of experience, observation, and what we know from the research literature on leadership.
- Be Authentic. It is critically important to let others know where you stand on issues. Dealing straightforwardly with others is the key to authenticity. Indeed, authentic leadership is becoming a very popular theory of leadership. Learn more about this here.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Arguably, the biggest mistake that leaders make is under-communicating. Many times leaders believe others know more than they actually do. Make sure to let others know what is going on – the direction the company is taking, any critical changes (particularly those that may affect them), and address any rumors that are going on with information that informs workers. It is nearly impossible to over-communicate.
- Don’t Be Stingy with Praise. Too many leaders dole out praise like it is money from their own pocket. Show appreciation for the accomplishments of others – and do it frequently. Research supports the idea that positive reinforcement is extremely effective, and under-used.
- The One Hour Rule. This is a more practical lesson and it comes from an informal policy at my previous institution. The “one hour rule” refers to a norm that typical department, committee, or team meetings should be scheduled for no more than one hour. If a longer meeting is needed, people are told in advance. What is the lesson for leaders from this rule? Use your time wisely. Don’t waste others’ time needlessly. If you can get it done in 15 minutes, get it done!
- Be Patient, But Not Too Patient. We all work at different paces, and sometimes people take longer to perform a task than we would, or complications arise that delay completion. Learn to be patient with others, but it is also important to not allow unnecessary procrastination. Leaders can cut followers some slack, but not too much.
- Be Kind, But Not Too Kind. Leaders need to be aware of the power dynamic and avoid being too overbearing. Kindness can go a long way toward building good leader-follower relationships. It is important, however, for a leader to not allow followers to take advantage of that kindness. More on this here.
What are some of your important leadership lessons learned from experience?
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Listen to podcasts online and stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.
This article was originally posted on Psychology Today.
About the Author
Ron Riggio is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author of more than a dozen books and more than 100 research articles and book chapters in the areas of leadership, organizational psychology, and social psychology. Ron is the former Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College. He has served on the board of numerous journals and writes the Cutting-Edge Leadership blog at Psychology Today. At the 2020 International Leadership Association’s annual conference, Ron was one of two people awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.