Last week I wrote about all those expensive, useless leadership courses that are throwing you to death these days. Authentic leadership, fluid leadership, switching leadership, leadership courses in which you “look for your why” – I called them a waste of money and nonsense. And I still think so.
By the way, thanks for all the support for the soosjals, it really did me good. I even received a compliment from a director of one of those money-out-of-your-pocket institutes that have been offering these kinds of ‘programs’ for thousands of euros for years. He emailed that he completely agrees with me, that it is all nonsense, that leadership, and that we should have a drink together. Duh!
But most people who responded were curious about my ‘leadership course in five minutes’ that I developed under the hawk eye of professor of leadership at the University of Groningen Janka Stoker and with which I have been traveling around the country for years. And so I thought: why not share it? Saves everyone a lot of money and time, and you wish everyone good leaders, right? They come. It’s not all that complicated folks.
1. Set a good example as a leader.
You lead, they follow. Leadership is a profession. Stop it if you can’t do it.
2. Don’t stay too close to yourself.
Or wait, feel free to stay close to yourself if you are a kind, reliable and trustworthy person. But if you are quite a jerk, quite vain and only in it for yourself, then stay away from yourself or better yet: don’t become a leader.
3. As a leader you have power. Realize that.
That you can make people happy, but you can also plunge them into the deepest misery. That you decide whether they can pay their mortgage this month. With power comes responsibility. Use it well.
4. Sit in the ugliest, smallest office yourself.
Or even better: in a flexible workplace in the middle of the office garden. Corner offices, leather armchairs, and fat Teslas radiate that you need luxury and status to function. You don’t have that. By sitting in the open-plan office yourself, you also show that you fully support your worthless, noisy, far too busy office building. That saves an expensive renovation!
5. See more in people than they see themselves.
Encourage them to try something new. When they crash, you’ll be there. “Management is motherhood,” my father always says. What does that say about fatherhood? Exactly, that’s driving around in an open sports car! What he means: we already have enough ‘males’ (m/f) at work.
6. Leadership is not always glitz and glamour.
A director recently said with embarrassment that she is mainly concerned with approving vacation days and declarations. That’s the way it should be. You’re not too good for anything. And ultimately just a tool to help people do their work better.
7. Learn to postpone your judgement.
So don’t laugh out loud when someone makes a stupid suggestion or applaud when a good comment is made. Never let on where your favorites and headache files are. Keep a poker face more often.
8. Give compliments in moderation.
The more you sprinkle them, the less they become worth. The same goes for doubt, saying sorry, admitting that you were wrong or that you don’t know something. It is certainly commendable, but you can only do it a few times. And then it’s done. Especially if you are a woman.
9. Don’t beat yourself up, praise the team.
You don’t have to take the credits, others give them to you. Make sure you are always in the picture somewhere when a success is celebrated.
10. People are going to act crazy when you’re in charge, so be prepared for that.
That they stop when you come in, that they start to phlegm, that they laugh at you. Therefore, let your teenagers tell you off regularly at home, or hire a few teenagers to do that for you every day.
11. Make sure you can handle criticism.
But really. Organize a group of whiners who regularly come and tell you everything you are doing wrong. In the past you could cry to your colleagues, but that is no longer possible. Prepare for loneliness. They call that suffering.
12. Don’t give a chat with a shitty brown face from your ski trip if your colleagues don’t have enough money or time to go on holiday.
Better make sure you have good contracts (!), printers that work, inflation compensation (!), a public transport card that is also valid at the weekend, and good coffee. Ask more often: what do you need?
13. A good boss doesn’t shout.
Mainly because it doesn’t help. Silence works better. An expectant one at that, one that invites. Shut your mouth more often. When it is quiet, people can think.
14. Listen to your colleagues.
Listen. Also to the mute. And then REALLY do something with it. Also make sure that you don’t always talk to the same big mouths, you know who. The humble colleagues will amaze you.
15. It’s important what you do.
Leaders are crucial to the performance of the organizations they lead. Of course, it’s mostly lucky that you’re the boss now. But not everyone needs to know that.
16. Don’t check everything and improve other people’s work.
That makes your colleagues lazy. It’s better to say clearly: I don’t think this is good enough yet, and then give it back. Trust them and give them confidence.
17. Only meet and email when necessary.
Be relentless in this. If you notice that people have not prepared, cut the meeting short. Ban CC emails. That makes them brave. A packed agenda means that you cannot set priorities.
18. Schedule more breaks.
Rest is not for the end of the week, but for every day. Make more time for your loved ones. Set a good example in this too. So work from home regularly and don’t be at work until 9:30 PM every day. Eat healthy and get enough sleep. Stop drinking.
19. Leave ridiculously early at company drinks.
This contributes to your myth-making, but above all it gives your colleagues the opportunity to gossip about you undisturbed.
20. Go for walks with people, instead of sitting in a stuffy cubicle with them.
Especially when things get tough, it works much better if you don’t sit and stare at each other from two meters away.
21. You never get it right.
That’s right. Zen.
22. Make decisions.
Don’t beat around the bush. Your colleagues are waiting for that. Then they can continue. Leadership means getting your hands dirty. Not everyone can like you.
23. Get back to your next job on time.
Think four, five years. The very best boss is the boss who everyone regrets leaving. The most you can achieve as a leader is that they cry at your farewell.