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Brain circuits

Four principles great leaders need to remember

Published 6 July 2021 in Brain circuits • 2 min read

We all want to be strong leaders, but to do so it is important to periodically self-check your behavior and interactions with others. Here are four core principles you should always keep in mind.

Understand and look at yourself first.

You can’t be an inspiring leader if you are depressed, negative or a perfectionist. To be an inspiring leader, you yourself need to be inspired. So you need to ask yourself these questions: What inspires you? Do you find meaning and purpose in what you are doing? If not, you first need to work on yourself. If you have the answer to these questions, ask yourself how are you communicating this to others?

It is about you, but it’s not only about you.

A major mistake leaders make is they don’t take time to understand the person they are leading. You need to ask your employees about what they want, what inspires them and what they are looking for in terms of career development. You need to be genuinely interested in the people that work for you and ask them questions. You also need to listen to their answers and interact in a way that shows you listen and understand that person. In that state, you form a bond with the other person and your inspiration can be spread. You become a secure base to that person.

This can be learned by developing a positive framework of leaders developing leaders. We need to look at how we help other leaders become better leaders. This requires building in the feedback process.

Positive, doesn’t always mean good news.

Giving people feedback and using a positive framework doesn’t mean everything is always sunshine and roses. You have to be able to deliver pain. You have to give tough feedback, and you may even have to fire somebody. You may have to change someone’s job duties in a way they may not be thrilled about initially, but you need to help them see the benefit. Feedback is not sheer criticism. Feedback is criticism that will help them improve and learn better what they are doing. This connects to effort and the only way to successfully do this is to focus on the effort factor.

Do not over focus on success.

Your focus should be squarely on how to keep learning. People who over focus on success often become afraid of failure. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy because you can’t excel if you are afraid to take risks.




George Kohlrieser

George Kohlrieser

Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at IMD

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD and Director of the High Performance Leadership program. He serves as a consultant to several global companies including Accenture, Amer Sports, Borealis, Cisco, Coca-Cola, HP, Hitachi, IBM, IFC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Morgan Stanley, Motorola, NASA, Navis, Nestlé, Nokia, Pictet, Rio Tinto, Roche, Santander, Swarovski, Sara Lee, Tetra Pak, Toyota, and UBS.


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