Filling a leadership role is difficult. Leadership is a skill, and it’s not necessarily an intuitive one. For some, leading others comes easy. The rest of us have to work at it. The good news is that there are some experts in the field who are willing to share their wisdom and hard-won experience with us online.
In order to curate some of that wisdom and put it all in the same place, we scoured top business blogs during the month of September to find the most valuable posts on leadership. If you’re looking for ways to improve as a leader, this should give you a head start.
How to Build Your Leadership Capacity
In this article, Jeff Boss (a former Navy SEAL) makes an argument about leadership that draws on his experience in the Navy. He states, “Leadership isn’t a title and it’s not a position. It’s not tenure and it’s not rank. Leadership is about capacity.” Then he goes on to discuss three different attributes that people should develop if they want to increase their leadership capacity: courage, clarity, and curiosity.
Leading, Boss says, is about moving forward in a direction—and that takes courage. To him, clarity of communication means you’re “bulletproof,” as there’s no ambiguity or chance for misunderstanding. Curiosity is all about being humble enough to ask others what they think, and then listening intently. It’s a solid article on aspects of leadership that aren’t always discussed.
In Just 8 Words, Uber’s New CEO Gave a Master Class in Leadership
Uber is infamous for its scandals and for how poorly its former CEO handled them. His “frat boy bluster,” as Jessica Stillman put it in her post, was a good example of everything that’s wrong with poor leaders. That’s why Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is such a breath of fresh air.
Khosrowshahi, an Iranian refugee, was the long-time CEO of Expedia. When he left, he sent out the customary letter to the company to wish them well and thank them for all their efforts. In the letter, he confessed that he was a little scared of moving on to new ventures. That vulnerability, Stillman writes, is an “underrated leadership skill,” one that should earn Khosrowshahi praise.
What Leaders Must Know to Set the Right Tone
This brief treatise by Maynard Webb discusses the serious mistakes often made in business. Sexual-harassment allegations, unethical practices, letting festivities get out of hand at company events; all happen much more often than they should. “Every leader is responsible to set the right tone,” Webb writes. They lead by example more than anything else, so the things they do and the allowances they make quickly develop into company culture.
He urges leaders to take steps to “set the right tone,” so as to avoid harassment, unethical and illegal actions, and other business pitfalls. His advice includes
- Be clear about what behavior is expected
- Don’t promote a “bro” culture
- Don’t overdo it at company events
- Don’t romance a subordinate in the office
The article’s a quick read, and some leaders and CEOs obviously need the refresher.
The Leadership Void: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What the Brain Fills In
If you can only read one of these articles, make it this one. In it, Jeff Stibel discusses the human brain’s ability to fill in missing information—and how disastrous that can be for leaders who aren’t careful about what they say.
Stibel begins by relating a story about once complaining in front of his young son about his phone not having enough “juice.” His son responded by adding some—orange juice, to be exact—directly in the headphone jack.
He goes on to say that we need to be clear and careful with our language, especially if we are in leadership positions. Otherwise, much like his son did, people will fill in the gaps with their own information, and it may not be what we want. He cites examples such as the Krispy Kreme KKK incident, the 2017 Adidas email to Boston Marathon runners, and Elon Musk’s statement on the death of Joshua Brown. The article is entertaining, and paints a very clear picture of the risks of careless words.
The Leadership Playbook: 4 Intelligences Necessary for Leadership
This post is brief but powerful. Written by Anthony Iannarino, this article discusses four “intelligences” that every leader needs to be effective: cognitive, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and moral. After a short description of each one, Iannarino writes, “You may believe that there are more intelligences necessary to lead, but you are unlikely to be able to subtract from these without also reducing the effectiveness of the leader.” It’s a good read, and well worth the little time required to read it.