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Posted: February 26, 2014

Best of CoBiz: The best leaders never self-promote

...and other rules for success in life and business

Laurence B. Valant

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from business performance improvement expert Larry Valant's book, "Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance."

Selfishness and ego driven decisions don't exist with the best leaders.

Many in leadership positions are driven by their own selfish requirements. These egocentric individuals focus on advancing themselves - often at the cost of others. Their leadership is characterized by self-serving words and actions, and they rarely are identified as possessing high integrity, or as tellers of truth. These self-centered individuals take credit where none has been earned. Working for such people is difficult at best.

The best leaders never promote themselves. Their vision and the good of their enterprise dominate their decision making and actions. Their integrity and truth telling are never in question. Selfless leaders are slow to take credit, even where richly deserved. And, they care greatly about those around them, ensuring fair treatment and recognition for those with whom they work. It is no surprise that their turnover rates are low! People want to work for and be around selfless leaders.

Leaders make it possible for their followers to realize their dreams.

All effective leaders have the ability, either naturally or through having learned the skill, to clearly state their vision in a way that makes it possible for their followers to not only follow but to be willing to hitch their own wagon to the leader's star. The leader's vision becomes the follower's own! The fulfillment of a personal vision becomes aligned with the person leading.

If a leader wants to realize a dream, she must insure that her followers realize their dreams; a leader's success must be measured by the success of their reports. I am convinced that leaders with integrity make it possible for their followers to realize their dreams.

Careless leaders might well steal their followers' dreams. Therefore, leaders have a solemn responsibility to those they lead. They must:

• Select a management team that has the skill to execute and fulfill the vision
• Maintain an organization free of distraction and dysfunction
• Provide on-going, unambiguous communication of the vision and the strategies required to succeed.
• Define tangible and quantitative directives for their followers
• Reward performance appropriately!

The leader's responsibility for those who follow has far-reaching implications for success in virtually every environment, but especially in the harsh climate of business competition.


Gather information from all you can.

We've all heard the saying, it is lonely at the top. Decision-making is an isolating experience because at the end of the day, the buck stops at the desk of the decision maker who either reaps praise or condemnation for their decisions and the results of those decisions.

While decision making is a lonely experience, getting to the decision does not have to be lonely. Decision makers can gather high quality input from as many different sources as practical and useful. And while a leader should get information from the management team, he should not be satisfied until he has gathered information from every level and every function within their organization, and consulted appropriate sources from outside the organization. Considering many perspectives will improve the quality and results of the decisions.

However, having gathered all the information that a leader can, the decision is theirs alone to make. But the gathering makes it a little less lonely at the top.

Laurence B. Valant is President and CEO of Valant & Co., a Denver-based business performance improvement consultancy that has worked with almost 300 firms to increase their value by billions of dollars. He is co-author of the hot-selling new book, “Make Plan! With Effective Execution” and now, “Lead and Manage!” Valant can be reached at lvalant@valantco.com or at 303-589-3840. If you want more information or would like to order a copy of “Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance,” please visit www.valantco.com.

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