I’m picking up the “three leadership imperatives” meme from Jamie Notter and Jeff De Cagna. I didn’t think I’d be tempted to play along, but then I started thinking about what I’ve expected from myself and aspired to when I’ve been a leader, and what I’ve looked for in others. Thinking back to my years as a restaurant manager, when I was much younger and often challenged, I read and learned a lot about leading others. It was better training than I ever realized at the time and I still struggle to live up to those standards. Perhaps that accounts for my simple and terse directives.

Have a spine.

  • The right thing to do is not always the easy thing to do, but you must do it. Make tough decisions and set high standards. Stand by them.
  • Face up to uncomfortable situations and deal with it — don’t let things fester because you’re not willing to say what needs to be said, or do what needs to be done.
  • Be fair. Don’t play favorites. Make sure everyone follows the rules, including yourself.
  • Admit when you’re wrong. Swallow your pride. Lose the ego.
  • Be honest. Stick to your word. Have integrity. Make your mother proud.

Have a heart.

  • Truly care about others and don’t be afraid to let them know.
  • Don’t manage or lead by fear, that’s not leading. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, think about whether you’re in the right place. Don’t ruin other people’s days for your own ego, get a clue.
  • Treat others with respect. Live by the golden rule.
  • Be conscientious and sensitive to those around you. Pay attention.

Have open ears and eyes.

  • Really listen to what others are saying. Don’t just hear them, listen to them. Pay attention.
  • Look around you, scan the room, and see what’s really happening. Read people — their faces, their body language. Pay attention. Yes, I’m repeating myself, this is important.
  • Never stop learning. Be curious. Don’t get lazy, seek out ways to learn.
  • Don’t be shut in by preconceptions or prejudices. Be willing to see things from different perspectives. Be willing to change.
  • Don’t be handcuffed by the past or the present, imagine many different futures.

That’s my quick and dirty recipe for leadership. Who’s going to tackle this meme next?