July 31

Leadership: ideals, compassion, openness, blindness


Avoid setting high expectations publicly. They only serve to put pressure on players and it lead to a weaker performance.

Avoid routine. If you work in an environment open to change you can explore new ideas and get new perspectives.

Ignorance can be positive. You can see ignorance as a way avoid getting stuck in what we think we know. It’s good to feel ignorant because it means you are exploring new areas and you are getting better.

Cultivate your ideals and show your human side. Good ideas are important but they don’t make you a leader. Ideals do. And your principles shouldn’t just guide you at work – if you want to be a great leader, they must guide the rest of your life to. Your team will respect you. Employees who consider their leaders to be ethical are more satisfied with their jobs and tend to perform better.

Use examples. Facts are easier to understand whey they’re presented with an example – it makes the information more real to your audience.

Form strong connections. You need to manage by walking around. You can’t be a leader if you don’t form strong connections with the people you work with. Turn off your phone and move away from your computer to show that you’re giving the person your full and complete attention. Demonstrate respect and value for them.

Be compassionate. You simply can’t force people to be compassionate. So don’t wait for society to change – change yourself, and provide an example for others. By treating everyone equally, remaining open and honest, and taking responsibility for our mistakes, we can create a powerful form of compassion to drive our actions.

Don’t act on your feelings. Think twice. Take a step back when tempted to act on your feelings and consider the consequences of your choices. If you are facing a difficult decision, ask yourself if you would be comfortable with the consequences of your decision being published on the front page of the New York Times. Sometimes you need to make tough calls. If a decision you’re making falls between an action that will help your business and one that will appease certain employees, know that the business should win, every time.

Listen. Build your listening skills by not using the word “I”.

Organize Product roasts. A product roast is a meeting where team members can criticize their product and talk about all its failures collectively. The event creates a safe environment that encourages people to admit to and acknowledge failures, in order to improve by learning from them.

Don’t be obsessed by your idea. When working collaboratively, it’s essential to be open to allowing others to change or build upon your ideas. This might mean your idea gets entirely transformed, but this is not a crisis. What’s ultimately important is not finding your idea, but the idea. The best idea! View everyone and everything as a potential tool for personal growth. Surround yourself with a group of trusted advisers and promote a culture of productive debates. Companies who let their employees craft their own jobs, tend to get the most out of their staff.

Spend time in the zone of your genius. Do what you love and are good at – tasks you love so much they don’t even feel like work!

Accept your feeling. Be committed to accept your feeling and learn from them. Feelings are a source of wisdom and not a weakness. Aim to improve your emotional intelligence.

Be skeptical and look for contradictory data. One of our biggest weaknesses is our tendency to see only the things which back up our own point of view, and to ignore everything that contradicts it. This is called “willful blindness” and can cause serious problems for leaders. Look for contradictory data and subtle warning signs. Mistakes show us the areas in which we lack knowledge, competence and understanding, and thus represent areas which might be our blind spots. Being skeptical can help you make better decisions. Always try to notice what’s missing. Most of the time, massive failure is the result of many small mistakes, compounded over time. It’s easy to fail to notice small changes, even when they happen right under our noses.

Ask for feedback. People don’t often volunteer criticism of their boss to their boss. So leaders have a responsibility to ask for it.

What are you not doing? It’s easy to concentrate too much on what’s happening or on what you are doing. Have you ever stopped to consider what’s not happening, or what you’re not doing? If you start paying attention to things that haven’t happened, you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn.

Favor in person discussions. Group discussions should be held in person, as group emails can become endless and disorienting.

Encourage experimentation. Foster a sense of ownership and freedom to experiment in your team members. This way leaders can help the change by tapping into a vast pool of ideas.

Be confident. Act as if your desired goals were feasible, no matter how unrealistic they seem.

Cultivate positive identities. Leaders should cultivate positive identities in their employees. A positive identity is when you feel good about yourself that makes you feel happier and more focused. You can do it encouraging them to leverage their strengths and virtues at work.

Play more games. Encouraging employees to play more games (ping-pong tables, chessboards, …) facilitate teamwork and positive interactions.

Be inspired. Leaders are responsible for inspiring employees to achieve more. Employees will only feel inspired by work if their leader is inspired, too.

Book References:

  • Leading
  • The ignorant maestro
  • Redesigning leadership
  • A force for good
  • Yes and
  • The 15 commitments of conscious leaders
  • Leadership blindspots
  • The power of noticing
  • The tyranny of email
  • How to be a positive leader
  • Attitude reflects leadership


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  • From Twitter:
    How does “Act as your desired goals were feasible, no matter how unrealistic…” go with “Avoid setting high expectations.”

    I believe it’s good to have ambitious goals and use them as a way to stretch and motivate yourself or your team. However, if you “arrogantly” claim that you will achieve your goal publicly you put too high pressure on you or your team and according to Ferguson experience this lead to worse performance. He declared to the press his team wound’t lose a single game that season and after the announcement the team lose all but one game, finishing in sixth place. Obviously this might not apply to other fields, but certainly I have seen this happening to me in the past.

    Ultimately I think this means that to a great leader is a combination of ambition and humbleness.

    What’s your opinion?

    Leadership is the book mentioning this: http://amzn.to/2aiY3d3

  • I agree it is a balancing act between the two. It is good to question and challenge the impossible, otherwise the way ahead will always be blocked, possibly by something that would have been surmountable if only someone took the time to break it down. However, the way I read your “be confident” point was more like “full speed ahead and damm the torpedoes” which will demotivate in the face of contray evidence.

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