Good to Great: 5 Cardinal Rules of Leadership

Sections of this topic

    All managers aspire to be better leaders — but what is it that makes a leader effective?

    The Leadership Code offers five pivotal rules that lay out how the leadership game is played. How well do you apply them to your day–to–day actions?

    1. Strategist–Leaders shape the future
    As a strategist, you must answer the question “Where are we going?” for the people you lead. You not only envision the future, but help create it. You also must work with others -your executive team and also your people – to figure out how to effectively move from the present (where we are today) to the desired future (where we want to be).

    How much time and attention do you allocate to future planning? How will you inspire your people with vision, purpose, mission and strategies?

    2. Executor–Leaders make things happen with others.
    As executors, leaders focus on the question, “How can we ensure we’ll reach our goals?” You’ll need to transform plans for change into measurable results by assigning accountability, knowing which decisions to manage and which to delegate, and ensuring that teams work together effectively.

    How well do you translate strategy into high-performance results? Do you know when as a leader to step in or, conversely, step back?

    3. Talent manager–Leaders engage today’s talent.
    As a talent manager, you’re in charge of optimizing team’ performance. You must answer the question, “Who goes with us on our business journey?” You need to know how to identify, build and engage talent for immediate results. See Engaged and Energized Employees.

    Do you know which skills you have and where to find talent in your organization? How do you ensure that your top talent turn in their best efforts?

    4. Human-capital developer–Leaders build the next generation.
    As a human-capital developer, you must answer the question, “Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?” Just as talent managers ensure shorter-term results through people, human-capital developers make sure the organization has the longer-term competencies required for future strategic success. See Leverage Your Top Talent.

    Do you have a workforce strategy for present positions but also for future needs? Do you have a succession plan for your highly valued leaders and professionals?

    5. Learner: Invest in yourself.
    Leading others ultimately begins with us. You need to ask the question, “What don’t I know about myself and my behavior that gets in the way of me being a powerful, effective leader? You can’t expect to influence followers unless you invest time and energy on your personal proficiency, individual strengths and emotional and social intelligence.

    How do you come across to others? When was the last time you did a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and treats) on yourself? Are you working with a mentor or coach to provide insights into your blind spots as well as build on your strengths?

    Management Success Tip:

    All leaders must excel at personal proficiency. That’s a given. Without a foundation of competency, credibility and confidence, you cannot ask others to follow you. Most successful leaders excel in at least one of the four core roles: strategist, executor, talent manager, or human capital developer. The higher you rise in an organization, the more you need to develop excellence in the remaining domains.

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?