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20 leadership lessons learned in 2015

The end of the year is time for reflection. Here are the 20 most important leadership lessons I have learned this year.

  1. To be a good leader, you must first be able to lead yourself: We all know this, but it takes discipline to do it: “Keep healthy and take care of yourself. Exercise your mind, body, and spirit so you can be someone people count on ... ”

  2. Good leaders are masters of time management: Time is the most valuable commodity. Wasting a moment is wasting an opportunity.

  3. Listening is not waiting to speak: It still amazes me how people underestimate this skill. Good listeners can understand context and are excellent negotiators.

  4. Drop the ego: It is not about you. If someone comes up with a better plan than the one you proposed, keep your ego out of the picture and focus on the bigger picture. Say no to internal competition and yes to collaboration.

  5. Good leaders have self-knowledge: In their book, The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership, M.A Soupios and Panos Moirdoukoutas write: “Understand your inner world, your bright and dark sides, your personal strengths and weaknesses. Self-comprehension is a fundamental precondition necessary for real leadership.”

  6. Embrace change: Change is difficult. Change is inevitable. Don’t learn to deal with it. Learn to embrace it.

  7. Communication is not optional: “When all other means of communication fail, try words.” — Anonymous

  8. Pay attention: I’ve written a blog post before on the competitive advantage you get when you master the art to focus on one thing at a time. Pay attention — it is what leadership is all about.

  9. Surround yourself with people who are stronger than you: If you only appoint people who will agree with you, you weaken everything: the team, the level of debates, the outcome, and your leadership.

  10. Create opportunities, not expectations: You are a leader because someone opened a door for you. Pay it forward.

  11. Manage your brand: If you wouldn’t print it in a newspaper, don’t tweet it! Beware of the virtual image you display on social networks. Manage your brand and the example you set.

  12. Preparation is the key to almost everything you do: Preparation is a sign of respect. The better you prepare, the better the possible outcome will be. If you don’t prepare, you waste time, energy, and potential.

  13. Make some time to relax: Your team needs the best you, not the stressed you.

  14. Keep up with technology: In any media company, you have to stay on top of the latest technology trends. You don’t have to master everything, but understand what it is, what it can do, and where it can fit into your organisation.

  15. You don’t have to accept every invitation to a confrontation: Your energy is limited. Don’t waste it on little battles. And never get involved when it is personal.

  16. Read: Read. Read. Read.

  17. You will fail sometimes: Move on. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail. Establish what went wrong, put something in place to avoid the same mistake in future, forgive yourself, and move on.

  18. When in doubt, go back to the key objectives: What are the business objectives? This question will solve most of your problems and help you to focus.

  19. It is all about relationships: Build your network, but be generous. Share your thoughts, ideas, and resources. Manage your professional relationships. It is easier to reach out when you need someone if you have a relationship in place.

  20. Cut through the noise: Don’t be distracted by sideshows. If you get a feeling too much is going on or something sounds complicated, go for the one sentence rule: Explain it to me in one sentence. In one sentence, why should we go ahead with this? In one sentence, why should we not go ahead with this?

About Johanna van Eeden

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