The Ten Commandments Of Leadership

The Ten Commandments Of Leadership

There are many behaviors and approaches that enhance your ability to work successfully with people, especially if you are in management or supervision. As you know, they also work well within families, with your friends, and as you participate in your community.

You know to avoid dealing with people in win/lose terms, to accept shared responsibility for assuring others get their interests met, and to remember and own what you have said, agreed to, and what you have done.

You also know to try to decrease your use of power and control as you increase your influence, to make the difficult or unpopular decisions and accept responsibility for them when you believe it is necessary, and to be prepared to handle people’s being upset or unhappy with you at times.

You understand that there are usually several ways to get the job done and not a best way; and you avoid over–managing or over–controlling activities or people. You even know that you do not pass on your responsibility when you delegate tasks and activities, know not to delegate duties that require your direct involvement, know not to delegate a task and then try to manage it, and know to always delegate both required activities and as much scope of authority as necessary to get the job done.

You are up–to–speed with the latest and greatest strategies and techniques; your people skills are top notch. What you may not know are the ten commandments of leadership, so here they are.

1. You shall have a clear mission, shall vigorously champion that mission, and shall pursue no other mission before it.

2. You shall clearly define and communicate your goals and motivations and shall enable others to understand how their responsibilities fit in with your mission–related goals.

3. You shall anticipate opportunities and problems associated with your mission, shall understand the what and why of those opportunities and problems, shall seek to understand those opportunities and problems from the points of view of other people, and shall evaluate the cost and benefit of any potential initiatives or solutions before pursuing them.

4. You shall accurately understand your skills and limitations, shall be familiar with and know how to use resources currently available to compensate for your limitations, and shall know how to develop new resources to complement your skills and limitations.

5. You shall give people reasons and explanations for your behavior and actions and shall not hold yourself out as the standard for how others should think, feel, and behave.

6. You shall be responsive to the needs and interests of those associated with your mission, shall assume that they believe what they say and do not intentionally misrepresent anything, shall remember that people seldom complain when there is not a real problem, and shall trust them to act in ways compatible with your mission.

7. You shall value the varying styles and personalities of people, shall be sensitive to their motivations and interests, and shall be open to their feelings and opinions.

8. You shall be clear about what you expect from others and shall assure that they understand why things need done, why they are important.

9. You shall assume that people are trying to do well, are trying to succeed; and if they are not succeeding, you shall assume that they do not know how, do not think it matters, or are being prevented from succeeding.

10. You shall ask people to help solve your problems instead of simply trying to get them to accept your solutions, shall hold them responsible only for what they can do and can control, and shall make sure they knew what behavior was expected, knew how to do what was expected, could have done what was expected, and actually did not behave reasonably and responsibly under the circumstances, before you consider criticizing anyone.

Now you know and there you go.

. . . . .
There are many behaviors and approaches that enhance your ability to work successfully with people, especially if you are in management or supervision. As you know, they also work well within families, with your friends, and as you participate in your community. You are up–to–speed with the latest and greatest strategies and techniques; your people skills are top notch. What you may not know are the ten commandments of leadership. This article brings them to you.


“Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.” What do you think? Is Fran Lebowitz right? Many may have a burning, restless urge but few have “true ability.”

Henry Ward Beecher said, “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” Note “true ability” isn’t required. You just need to dip inside yourself and paint your nature. It’s like Isaac Bashevis Singer said, “Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression.” Sure the chasm will be there. Still, it’s your nature; and only you know how well you have captured it.

“No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist,” according to Oscar Wilde. As John Cheever pointed out, “Art is the triumph over chaos.” It has little to do with how others think the world is or aught to be.

George Santayana thought, “An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.” It’s your dream. Who is qualified to tell you that you are having the wrong dream? If anyone dares to knock your dream, remember the words of Jules Feiffer, “Artists can color the sky red because they know it’s blue. Those of us who aren’t artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we’re stupid.” If your sky is red, then red it should be. Only stupid people and non–artists would think otherwise.


The Emotional Sweet Spot

What comes to mind for you when I mention “cooperative?” Now consider what comes to mind when I mention “not cooperative.” For me, the only notion that comes to mind is “Uncooperative.

Let’s try the same exercise with ”relaxed.” For me, several emotions come to mind such as up–tight, anxious, agitated, upset, restless, and so on. Even so, I divide the emotional state into “relaxed” and “not relaxed.”

The point is that I divide emotional states into two states that I can characterize as “X” and “not X.” Try it for yourself. For example, What is the alternative to being “affectionate,” to being “supportive,” to being “trusting?” You likely come up with a few words to describe each, but those words are just ways of being more specific about “not affectionate,” “not supportive,” and “not trusting.”

If we were to stop here, the conclusion would be pretty simple. The target emotion is either present or not present. What’s more, We also divide emotions into two more groups: good and not good. Being cooperative is good and being uncooperative is bad. The same good or bad dichotomy holds for relaxed and not relaxed, affectionate and not affectionate, supportive and not supportive, trusting and not trusting. Sure, there are people and situations where good and bad get reversed, for example, where trusting is a bad idea and not trusting is the better part of good judgment. Nonetheless, good and bad are still in play.

In less personal relationships and situations, we may want to replace “affectionate” with “warm” to avoid any issue with meaning, but the present versus not present, good versus bad division still applies. What is the alternative to warm? Terms like cold and aloof come to mind. “Warm” is good and “aloof” is bad.

I’m getting closer to the point. Using this approach to understanding emotional states, we can see that we can and do think about emotional states as ranging from fully present to fully absent, from all good to all bad, and we then judge other people and ourselves accordingly. One end of the range for each of the emotional states is the ideal place for us to be and not being there is actionable. We want other people to be more cooperative, more relaxed, warmer, more supportive and more trusting. We may or may not apply the same expectation to ourselves or at least not to the same degree, but the expectation is there and doing better is always an option. But what if the construct or mental model we are using for emotional states is wrong?

Now I get to the point I want us to consider. What if emotional states are not in a range from good to bad, from Present to not present? It’s not a dichotomy. Instead, think of an emotional state as ranging from not present to present and then on to not present. Present is a single point in the middle. Emotional states range from bad and undesirable to good and desirable and then on to bad and undesirable? Good is a single point in the middle. The notion is sort of like the notion that says “There can be too much of a good thing.”

Let me suggest a few ranges that shift from undesirable to desirable and then when desirable goes too far, it be comes itself undesirable.

Nervous shifts to Relaxed but if overdone becomes Impassive.

Cold shifts to Warm but if taken too far becomes Smothering.

Cynical shifts to Trusting but if overdone becomes Gullible.

Critical shifts to Supportive but can turn into being Unquestioning.

Oppositional shifts to Cooperative which if taken too far becomes acquiescence.

As we can now see, the emotional sweet spot is in the middle between Not X and taking X too far. In each example, if the emotional sweet spot in the middle is taken too far, the outcome is undesirable, perhaps even more undesirable than not relaxed, not warm, not trusting, not supportive or not cooperative.

What happens as we go past the sweet spot, as we shift toward too much of a good thing? As counterintuitive as it may seem, we begin to emotionally separate, to disconnect from people and situations. We begin to abandon our individual agency and succumb to the manipulation of people and circumstances. We may do this more passively as in becoming acquiescent or Impassive or more actively as in becoming gullible or smothering. In any event, instead of stopping and taking stock at the sweet spot, we take a good thing too far.

What is the conclusion? As we find the emotional sweet spot in any relationship or situation, take care not to go too far in what seems to be the right direction. Since we can likely never exactly hit the emotional sweet spot and stay there – let’s call that “finding X” – we are usually better off leaning a little toward “not X” than running the risk of too much X where we begin to lose our individual agency and our ability to judge.

It may be useful to note before stopping that conning us into the emotional sweet spot and then nudging us on past is the secret sauce in robocalls and most any other scam. Just know that it can and does happen, often when we are least expecting it. Along with keeping our emotional radar up for external signs, we also need to keep our internal emotional radar active for signs that we may be shifting on past the emotional sweet spot, those times when its telling us to pull back a little, to take care not to lose our emotional edge.

Now you know so there you go.


Think Friday? –– I doubt that would be much of a challenge. It doesn’t matter much what comes to mind for you. “Friday” is virtually guaranteed to prompt an immediate tumble of thoughts, images, and emotions from most everyone.

To think Saturday or Sunday is nearly as quick–and–easy as it is to think Friday. They have their own spontaneous associations and clarity. All but the very young for whom any day is its own unique adventure and the permanently bummed out for whom life itself is a burden, to think “Saturday” or “Sunday” rocks, if only in comparison to the five alternatives.

Think Monday or Wednesday? Sure, at least once a week. I know, neither is up there with “Saturday” or even “Friday” or “Sunday” but Monday is when the week really starts and Wednesday, well, half–way has a little something going for it. Even if we are not particularly thrilled, Monday and Wednesday do both get our attention.

I’m getting around to my point. Think of this as a Thursday sort of post. “Thursday” is the day reserved for getting the week wrapped up. By Thursday, we have put things off about as long as we can and we sure don’t want to waste a perfectly good Friday on anything important or necessary. Yep, Thursday is definitely crunch time; so think Thursday. Without Thursday, we might not ever get anything finished.

That brings us to think Tuesday and a serious problem. There is mostly nothing one could possibly think about Tuesday. It’s not the weekend. It’s not the start or the middle. It’s not a things have to get done day. There is no hurry since there is still plenty of the week left. If anything important ever happened on a Tuesday – and I doubt it, it was just a coincidence. Tuesday is stuck in there with no point to it.

Yes, I do know about Fat Tuesday. So what are your plans for next Fat Tuesday? – See? That’s my point. Tuesday may not be a complete cipher but it does come close. No one ever makes special plans for a Tuesday, at least no one who inhabits my universe.

That gets us around to the title for this post: Think Tuesday. It likely comes as no surprise that I have little to nothing to say about that. I think Tuesday and nothing comes to mind. It’s kind of sad as I think about it. There is poor Tuesday with no unique identity or purpose still having to show up, week after week after week. Wouldn’t you just hate that? There is Monday dragging its feet and Wednesday leaning toward the weekend and there you are stuck in between with nothing to do, and more to the point, no one cares.

Suggestion: Think Tuesday. – If you work at it, something will come to mind.

Now you know so there you go.

SPAM & The Delete Key

SPAM is here to stay so knowing how to spot it and what to do with it are self–protection skills everyone who has an email account seriously needs. Of course, there are free SPAM filters, SPAM blockers that can be purchased for $19.95 or $29.95 or more if you have lots of extra cash, or SPAM detectives that will stop SPAM, block pop–up ads, and probably protect you from cyber monsters. All of these products are potentially useful and may even work. While you are deciding which protection you will buy, here are a few tips I have discovered that don’t cost anything and work pretty well for me, at least so far.

1. Your email client likely lets you send an auto reply to anyone who sends you an email. Make a message that says, “I am not replying to email today. If your message is important, give me a call or send me a letter. You know, one of those documents you put in an envelope and drop in the mail after you put a stamp on it. I know it has been a long time but give it a try, how to do it will all come back to you if you concentrate.”

2. Check your in–box and press the delete key on each new message that arrives. That will get rid of all of the SPAM and you can give all of your attention to sending emails to everyone you know. If anyone asks you why you didn’t reply to their email, you can tell them you always delete email so you aren’t bothered with SPAM. If you don’t want to do that and aren’t bothered by a little white lie, tell them your email crashed and you lost their message. The good part here is it is sort of true. You don’t need to tell them you crashed it with the delete key.

3. Delete the email if it isn’t from a person or company you have heard of. Sure, it may be someone you don’t know or a company you may want to know is sending you an important email but it’s not likely unless you have a business that does business by email. Be especially cautious about emails from people who only have first names. Even your friends likely put their first name or initial and last name in the TO line of their emails and any reputable business will include its full name.

4. Here’s my favorite. Check out the subject of the email. If you don’t know what in the world it means, delete it. If it is in a language you can’t speak, delete it. If it is a greeting, delete it, e.g. “Hi.” If it has odd characters in it, delete it. If you can’t pronounce it or would never say that yourself, delete it. If it mentions personal body areas or cures or enhancements for personal body areas, delete it, unless you have a serious need for a cure or enhancement and have discussed it with your doctor and have been advised to find a cure or enhancement by reading SPAM.

5. OK, you have followed tips 1–4 and absolutely can’t resist opening that email you just got. Look at the first couple of lines and see what you see. If there are graphics, odd characters, or anything other than simple text that gets down to the reason for the email, delete it. If there are links to click on, delete it. If you can’t tell what the point is in a paragraph or so, delete it. Unless you are sure it is good stuff and you really want to know, delete it.

6. If the email has an attachment, don’t open it. If you simply have to open it, don’t click on the attachment. If the email starts doing stuff without your doing anything, delete it and if you can’t delete it, turn off your computer. Can you ever open an attachment? Well, maybe, if the email is from your mother or your best friend or your boss and they sent it to you and did not forward it from someone else. If you are asked later what you thought about the attachment, it’s time for one of those little white lies, “I couldn’t get it to open.” Well, it is again sort of true. You don’t need to mention that it wouldn’t open because you deleted their email and the attachment went to cyber heaven with the email.

7. What should you do if you decided to ignore tips 1–6? Go to the help section of your virus software to see what it has to say about ignoring tips 1–6. If that doesn’t work, maybe you can quickly develop a close personal relationship with a computer guru.