What is Your Mantra as a Leader?

by Joe Lavelle on September 20, 2010

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I was interviewed on the topic of leadership earlier a while ago by one of my favorite people that I mentor.  The interview was for his Leadership class as part of his Executive MBA curriculum.  He asked me 20 or so questions about Leadership, but the one that struck me most was,  “What is your main mantra as a leader and how has it helped you establish your leadership position?”  I have several mantras that define my style including:

But the mantra that defines my leadership style the best is “leave it (significantly) better than you found it.”   My father taught me this lesson by example and I am eternally grateful for it. Having this mantra burned into my brain has many benefits:

  • It keeps me from acting on the instinct to perform destructive behaviors like sending flaming e-mails, taking too much credit or jumping on negative bandwagons at the water cooler.
  • It forces me to be empathetic, to consider others and situations before my own needs and desires.
  • It forces me to consider both the big picture and the collective small pictures at the same time.

Many of you probably agree conceptually that it is a good idea to “leave it better than you found it,” but you may not know exactly how to accomplish it.  Here are a couple easy examples from everyday life:

  • Every time you borrow someone else’s car, return it with a full tank of gas no matter how much gas was in the tank when you borrowed it.
  • Take the time to send a note of encouragement to someone who is having a bad day.
  • Personally check in with each of your direct reports on a regular basis throughout the year to help them measure progress on their career goals.
  • Have the courage to tell your client, boss, co-worker, etc. the truth instead of what they want to hear.

Hopefully my mantra resonates with you and it will inspire you even a little bit in the next week.  Can you please return the favor and inspire the rest of us?  What is your leadership mantra?  How does it make you more successful as a leader?

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