The Five Mandates for Exceptional Leaders

These five mandates are presented from the point of view of the people being led. This is the perspective of the organization, team, department or division that depends on their leader to be both progressive and skillful.

If you are a leader, review the list and think about the leadership you are delivering to your team. Are you meeting the expectations of today’s fully engaged, high-performance workers? Does your leadership match the expectations you have for your team in terms of ongoing improvement, results-orientation, and a commitment to excellence?

Here are the Five Mandates for Exceptional Leaders:

1.   Give Me a Reason to Care

 An exceptional leader must provide a context for high-performance work. What is our company trying to become? Why does my work matter? Are we making a difference? What future am I working toward and how do I fit into it?

Many leaders get stuck in the micro view of the next quarter, the next earnings report, and the metrics that drive the business. They forget to “macro-manage” by providing a work context that is relatable for everyone in their organization.

2.  Keep Improving as a Leader

Many organizations are burdened with the irony that everyone is expected to improve their results, to get better and keep learning… except the leader. If anyone in an organization should be aggressive about their ongoing self-development, it is the leader. They impact more people, they drive more decisions and they cast a longer shadow. A learning leader will always have a learning atmosphere in their organization.

3.  Give Me a View to the Present, Past and Future

Transparency has officially become a leadership buzzword, and it’s now something we talk a lot about. Transparency must be something you do as a leader, not just something you discuss. Engaged and committed people need to know what’s going on. They deserve to know:

-Is what we’re doing working?

-How can we tell?

-Where are the results of what I am doing?

-Am I making a difference?

-Are we succeeding or failing?

Transparency means more truth to more people. Real transparency from leadership allows teams to buy in to the business measurements and results that matter. Asking people to care about outcomes without providing a clear view to results is not fair. It is the leader’s job to provide a view that makes sense and can be understood at all levels.

4.  Please Pay Attention to Our Culture

Exceptional leaders understand that culture… more than any other thing… drives work satisfaction and retention. A positive, energized culture will attract and retain the kind of people you could never attract with just money.

Peter Drucker said “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and he was 100% right. It is sustainable, it is a differentiator, and it’s a real competitive advantage in the people market. Culture is Job #1 for progressive leaders who want to compete for talent.

 5.  Show Me My Ladder

Exceptional leaders understand why and how people become top performers. These progressive leaders act as if everyone wants to be a top performer, and that everyone wants to make a big impact on the organizations future. In doing this, they make sure that everyone knows where their current job can lead. They make sure that everyone has an upside and a way to realize it.

Don’t be the leader who doesn’t bother to “future” their people and then complains that they’re not fully committed to the organization or to an objective. The leaders part comes first, show everyone their ladder… and then expect them to climb it.

Those are the Five Mandates for Exceptional Leaders. These are the five things that smart, engaged, high-performance people expect and deserve from their leadership. Nearly every manager and leader has some room for improvement in a few of these areas. Taking deliberate steps in these five crucial categories will improve your leadership and improve your results.


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