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Seven Traits of Highly Effective Leaders

April 7, 2008

Over the last 27 years of my life, I’ve learned a lot about how to be a leader. But as I’m entering my fifth month as the Director of Operations at my current job, I know that I need to continue to improve if I’m going to make a positive impact at my workplace. So I’ve been studying some of the most renowned leaders of today, and I’ve come up with the following traits of highly effective leaders.

Pointing. An effective leader must point at things. All the time. Pointing demonstrates that you are aware of your environment, and it makes people fear that you will notice their inadequacies. Point out people’s mistakes as often as possible. This has the added bonus of drawing attention away from your mistakes, as people are always looking at the target of your pointing.

Jowls. A respected leader must have substantial jowls. Prominent jowls exude prominence. They show that you are always thinking about important things, squaring your jaw against adversity. Spend at least 30 minutes a day clenching your jaw to enhance your jowls, or get jowl implants.

Act now, explain later. Great leaders don’t take the time to explain their decisions. They simply act. Expounding on decisions is a sign of weakness, and if you show weakness, people will jump you in the parking lot and leave you to the raccoons. Even if the decision you’ve made makes absolutely no sense, just do it. You’ll have plenty of time to come up with a reasonable explanation. Practice this by coming up with ridiculous ideas and making people do them no matter what (i.e., have an employee build a sand castle in the break room).

Never admit to a mistake. No matter how misinformed you are or how many bad decisions you’ve made, never ever admit to making a mistake. This will undermine every iota of respect you’ve earned. Even if it’s a clear mistake, no matter how small (i.e., someone catches you raiding a superior’s office for their stapler), never admit to it. Place blame or deny the mistake, but don’t concede.

Wear black clothing. The blacker the clothes, the stronger the leader. And I don’t mean wear the types of clothes black people wear. I’m specificially referring to the color black, which symbolizes a void of colors. Wearing black clothing says, “All ideas other than mine are null and void.”

Ignore the rules. Rules don’t apply to leaders. Following rules is something followers do, not leaders. Leaders write their own rule books with invisible ink so no one else can read them. (Also applying to the Jack Bauer School of Leadership: When talking to someone, alternately whisper and yell. This is how you lead a conversation.)

Literally do whatever you want. If you do what other people want you to do—following social norms and conventions—you will lose your status as a leader. Thus, you must literally do whatever you want, no matter how crazy it is. If you want to wash your hair with toothpaste, do it. When people see how crazy you are, they’ll be forced to respect you.

This isn’t an exclusive list. There are many important traits for effective leaders. But try following all of these, particularly at the same time, and you will immediately become 7 times the leader you were before you read this.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    April 8, 2008 10:21 am

    No doubt, Peyton Manning is a prime example of the value of pointing, possibly one of the most important qualities of an effective leader. Your use of his pointing antics is indeed a fine example. However, I must say Hillary Clinton has far better mastered this technique. As a result, in your studies of renowned leaders, it is her, not Manning, that you must model. For pointing perfection tips view her combined “clap, clap, point, point” demonstration here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_WIqjj0WVA

    Otherwise, you’ve compiled an excellent list of top notch leadership traits in which to aspire. I look forward to seeing your practiced and polished jowl.

  2. Joe Sheehan permalink
    April 8, 2008 10:43 am

    Brilliant. You really should get a book deal.

    Eventually.

  3. Bob permalink
    April 8, 2008 8:08 pm

    Nice post. I think I will invest in your pointer finger and jowels if that concept wins the bracket challenge.

  4. Jamey Stegmaier permalink
    April 8, 2008 8:59 pm

    Excellent point. i was actually going to use Hillary for the jowls, but McCain has slightly better implants.

  5. December 14, 2009 10:25 pm

    I have nothing of value to add here, other than to say… hilarious! I love “Also applying to the Jack Bauer School of Leadership: When talking to someone, alternately whisper and yell.” I cackled out loud!

    • December 14, 2009 10:27 pm

      An induced cackle–nice! This is one of my favorite entries. I suspect that I’ve gotten less funny over time.

      • December 14, 2009 10:45 pm

        Funny you say that — I feel the exact same way. I look back at posts from October and think, “Did I get it all out of me and now there’s nothing left!? This stuff is fantastic!”

        • December 14, 2009 11:11 pm

          Such pride we take in our past selves. I generally contend that my past self is smarter than my present self. He’s always leaving me notes and reminders and clues to things I need to remember. And, like I said, he’s way funnier.

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