15 Do’s and Don’ts of Leadership

Leaders are the ones who create transformation, they are the people who envision the future that we live in. Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and George Washington are some of the most famous leaders from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century. Let’s explore their life and learn how they harnessed their talents to be one of the top leaders around the globe.

If you look closely you will realize that some of the common traits that all of these leaders exhibited are integrity, humility, vision and courage. They all showed extreme gratefulness and learning agility. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian Nation, wasn’t just an eminent politician; he was an advocate for the peace of India and peaceful protest. Nelson Mandela was also a follower of non violence and was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. Lincoln was able to stand up against injustice and discrimination, for which he was also assassinated. 

All these leaders knew that unity, empathy and non violence are powerful forces. Their leadership was not about exercising power; it was about empowering masses to control their lives. Their legacy demonstrates that leadership doesn’t have to be reserved only for those who have official titles or responsibilities, it’s more of a mindset and set of characteristics that can be developed by anyone.

Read ahead to learn 15 Do’s and Don’ts of Leadership. 

Do’s of Leadership

Lead by Example

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

The leaders establish the tone for their team. Demonstrating the behavior and values you want from your team builds an environment of accountability. I remember, in my teacher’s college, our professor used to say that “Remember, you will be the leader of your class. The children are going to follow their teacher. Hence, you will be burdened with a great responsibility to present an example in front of them at all times.” The same is true for corporate bosses.

Leaders lead by example. In order to inspire change in your team, you first need to change yourself. 

Communicate Openly

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

Effective communication is the leader’s greatest strength. Make sure your team is informed. Keep them informed, pay attention and encourage dialogue. Communicate openly and listen closely. Great leaders have excellent interpersonal skills. A leader once said that “What makes a good leader great is not his knowledge or educational skills, but interpersonal skills.”  Also known as people skills, being able to communicate openly and clearly puts you in a position to be understood easily and save you a lot of mishaps. 

Great leaders are effective communicators. Take for example Hitler. He rose to fame and was able to garner such a massive following only because of his oratorical skills which he developed as an early teen.

Develop Others

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

A good leader sees the potential within their team and is actively involved in their team’s growth. Coach, mentor, and offer opportunities to develop. One of the qualities that great leaders exhibit is to see the unseen. I remember that during one of my previous tenures, we had a fairly meek and shy team member but our boss, instead of ignoring him or sidelining his existence, went up to him and asked him for his opinion on a problem we were trying to solve. When that meek team member gave his opinion, it turned out to be one of the most effective ways to solve that particular problem which we had overlooked previously.

Create a culture of innovation by embracing new ideas and allowing for experimentation. 

Set Clear Expectations

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

Inconsistency can cause confusion. Define the roles, responsibilities, and expectations in order to avoid confusion. True leaders set the right expectation of their team members. They understand the human limitations and set the right and achievable expectations for their team members. And trust them to rise up and meet all your expectations.

Any team that succeeds is built on the foundation of trust. Be trustworthy, honest and transparent in all your choices.

Be Resilient

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

Resilience, a key leadership quality, is the ability to adjust, endure, and stand firm in the face of setbacks, adversity or challenges. It’s the ability to bounce back after a fall and then learn from them and keep pursuing your goals with an unshakeable determination.A one of the best examples of a leader who is resilient can be found in Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II. The famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech is a testimony to his unwavering determination.

Resilient leaders are a huge asset in their ability to inspire and guide their teams through challenging moments, and create a sense of growth and perseverance.

Take Ownership

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

The ability to take ownership is an essential quality of leadership that involves taking responsibility for the decision-making, behavior, as well as the results of a group or an organization. It is a sign of accountability, dedication as well as an approach to proactive problem solving. Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated the traits of this type.

Gandhi, in the struggle for independence, embodied authenticity in both his conduct and beliefs.Gandhi did not just narrate the wrongs. Gandhi was actively involved in peaceful marches and protests as well as hunger strikes.

Prioritize Self-Care

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

It can be a challenge to lead. However, taking the time to take care of your mental and physical health is vital. Set an example and encourage your team members to take care of themselves. The importance of self-care, whether that’s through exercise, rest or even moments of contemplation, aren’t an indication of weakness, but rather an opportunity to build strength. It allows us to take on leadership with a clear and focused mind as well as unwavering determination and the ability to connect with the people that we serve. 

In a society that promotes burnout, the prudent leader realizes how important it is to take care of yourself. It is not selfish, but rather an essential element of efficient leadership.

Don’ts of Leadership

Don’t Micromanage

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

Effective leaders are aware of how important it is to delegate and have faith in their team members’ capabilities. One instance of an individual that exemplified this characteristic can be found in Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc.

Steve Jobs was renowned for his visionary leadership style and a large part of his accomplishments can be attributed to his ability to not micromanage. He believed in appointing the most talented people and allowing them to succeed in their jobs.

Let your team do their work. Continuously monitoring and directing the work of your team can stifle motivation and creativity.

Don’t Play Favorites

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

The perception of favoritism can undermine trust and demotivate people who feel they are unfairly treated. Being fair isn’t about absconding with individuality, but rather about accepting diversity and encouraging an environment of fairness and harmony. As a leader, this quality creates trust, encourages teams, and allows individuals to achieve their potential. This is a key principle that every leader should follow to improve the performance of their organization and the society at large.

Don’t Avoid Difficult Conversations

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

The act of ignoring conflicts or problems doesn’t cause them to disappear. Make sure to address issues immediately and in a constructive manner. 

Engaging in difficult conversations with grace and compassion can bring about positive transformation by bridging divisions and laying the foundation for lasting changes. This is a lesson in leadership that emphasizes the necessity of not avoiding uncomfortable conversations, even if they appear to be insurmountable.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

The quick conclusion-making process could lead to confusion. Get clarification and context before making a decision.Assumption-free leaders are tolerant and appreciate the importance of acquiring facts and observing before making a decision. 

A great example of this characteristic is Nelson Mandela’s leadership. Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa always tried to understand others. He never assumed. Through his constant effort to learn about other people and making educated choices, he not only changed the face of his country but also left a lasting legacy that encourages leaders across the globe to adopt this essential characteristic.

Don’t Hog Credit

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

Give credit where credit is due. Recognize the contribution of your team members and give them the spotlight. True leaders recognize that success is a team effort. Recognizing the efforts of others helps create an encouraging and inspiring workplace. In the workplace those who do not hog credit tend to create an environment that is based on trust and innovation in which team members feel valued and stimulated. 

This results in greater productivity, improved problem-solving and a more peaceful workplace. It’s not only a characteristic of leaders It’s an effective method for building strong, well-functioning, cohesive, and highly productive teams.

Don’t Disregard Feedback

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

Feedback can be a powerful source for improvement. Neglecting it or becoming defensive blocks the way to progress. 

Not disregarding feedback demonstrates an individual’s ability to be open, learn and change. It displays humility, open-mindedness and a desire for continual improvement. Leadership requires the ability to accept feedback that can foster trust, growth, collaboration, and trust. It helps leaders make well-informed decisions, create solid teams and create positive transformation.

Leadership also inspires the ability to present effective feedback in a kind and compassionate manner.

Don’t Fear Change

Do’s and Don'ts of Leadership

The resistance to change impedes progress. Accept innovation and change to the new environment. And remember, change always comes with risk. 

The right amount of risk can result in huge gains. Don’t let fear keep you from exploring new possibilities. True leaders do not avoid change or risk. But in the process of this change, true leaders do not lose sight of their values. 

Your values define your character and help you in your quest for success.

The Bottom Line

Leadership is a process that is constantly growing and learning. If you are willing to embrace the Do’s and avoid the Don’ts of leadership, you’ll be able to make the most of your leadership skills and lead your professional and personal life with greater control and authority. It’s not just about helping others. It’s about helping yourself become the most effective version of yourself.

Also Read: 10 Essential Leadership Skills for the Modern Workspace

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    A counselling psychologist by profession, Abs specialises in addressing mental health concerns of adolescents, young adults, and adults including stress & time management, relationship counselling, substance abuse, domestic violence, perinatal problems, depression, loneliness, anxiety, sexual issues, identity crisis and work issues, among others. She believes that therapy can hold different experiences & meanings for each individual, thus using an eclectic approach with her clients.

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