20 Things Leaders Should Think About Today

The Thinker

If you are a leader, here are some questions and ideas to ponder. Think about them alone; discuss them with friends; pose them to colleagues; use them in meetings. One of the things we learned from the leaders we interviewed for Leadership Matters is that real leaders, no matter where they sit in the room, think about leadership. They are self-aware for a reason. So go ahead, ruminate.

1. Know the difference between control and leadership. Recognize that as a leader there’s only so much you can control. Leadership is sometimes about surrender. When have you exchanged responsibility for micro-management?

2. Stop talking. When was the last time you really listened?

3. Are you disciplined?

4. Take the initiative. Don’t be afraid of making a wrong move. When was the last time you took the reins and joined the decision-makers, experimenters and innovators?

5. Are you an empathetic and compassionate leader?

6. As a leader, you need to download. Do you nurture your close relationships? They are important.

7. Know yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of a little self-awareness.

8. Be willing to walk the unpopular path. How long has it been since you took a stand? At work? Outside of work?

9. 98-percent of our all ideas are mediocre. The remaining two percent are not. Be a risk taker. Can you recognize the two-percent?

10. Creativity underpins vision, yours and your organization’s. How do you nurture your creative side? Your team’s?

11. Which is more important: perfection or risk?

12. Focus externally. Read widely. Know what your community’s organizations are doing and thinking, not just its museums. Serve your community.  When you matter, your organization will matter.

13. Teamwork requires trust. Think about who’s inside the circle in your organization. Who’s outside? Why?

14. Know your challenge. Is it growth or survival?

15. Can you frame the challenge so everyone understands it and believes in it?

16. How often does being right keep you or your team from being effective?

17. Are you a mentor and a mentee?

18.  Are you comfortable with conflict on your team? When was the last time a staff or team meeting included vigorous debate?

19. Does your role as a leader make you happy?

20. Do you believe in the power of museums?

What’s on your list for leaders to think about?

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2 Comments on “20 Things Leaders Should Think About Today”

  1. Trevor Jones says:

    These are great! Regarding #9 — I don’t think that 98% of ideas are mediocre, I think that no idea is a great one until it’s been tested. My team’s getting better at saying “that’s an idea, but let’s test it and see if it’s a good one before we move forward.” It’s always a risk to move forward on a project — testing the idea is a way to minimize that risk.

    • Trevor–
      Testing an idea doesn’t make it great. It may work, it may be good, it may be perfect for your organization, but it may not be visionary. That’s what separates the 2-percent from the rest. It’s not a judgement on the rest, it’s just a caution to recognize something visionary and new when it stands in front of us. Sometimes, particularly in the history museum world, we’re content with what’s safe versus what’s truly new.

      Thank you again for your comments. It’s great to know folks are reading.


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