The Ten Leadership Commandments


It’s only a few weeks until the Perth HR Summit, where I am delighted to be presenting on how to help high performing technical experts become leaders. It’s a great topic and one that I am really passionate about.

My key takeaway message is that great leadership is possible for us all – it’s not something that is bestowed by the Gods on a few select few. BUT.. And there is a but – there needs to be some underlying factors to make it work. These are the individual and how they approach their new role, HR support, development and programmes and the organisation and its culture.

In researching and planning the speech, I came across this great article by David Finkel.

The 10 Management Commandments

“..Here is a quick list of what I consider to be the 10 most important management “commandments”. Use them to help you develop as a leader.

  • Hire right. Want a winning team? One that is easy to manage to great performance? Much of the battle is in hiring great people and onboarding them in a way that gets them off on the right foot.
  • Be clear on expectations, standards, boundaries, success criteria and accountability.Yes it takes more time to be clear on this up front, but it saves you hours of effort on the back end. Plus it will help you get better results too.
  • Manage individuals. While you want to be fair in your treatment of your team, not all people are alike. You lead individuals. Get to know their needs, strengths, styles, and oversight needs. Manage them individually to help each perform at their best.
  • Make deposits–build the relationship. There is an old expression that has made an impact on me with respect to how I manage people–“With people, fast is slow and slow is fast.” Take your time with your team. Connect with them. Serve them. Listen to them. Over time the relationship and your results will blossom.
  • Let your team earn autonomy. Think about this as a “dimmer” that you turn up bit by bit over time (versus an “on/off” switch.) As your team shows you what they can do, let them earn progressively more autonomy and control of their work, their day, and their role in the company.
  • Let your team earn authority and responsibility. Same thing applies. This is something that you incrementally let them earn and enjoy more and more of over time as they show they are capable of handling it.
  • Invert the pyramid–serve your team. How can you help them? Support them? Empower them? Not sure? Ask them!
  • Earn trust–honor your word and take responsibility. They watch what you do and how what you do matches (or doesn’t match) what you say. Be meticulous with meeting your commitments and honoring your word. When you mess up don’t make an excuse, own up to your mistake, learn from it, and clean up your mess.
  • Aim to earn their respect, not their affection or approval. As the father of 3 young kids I know that sometimes I have to upset my kids with a firm boundary that they don’t like (and they are very vocal that they don’t like it) because it is in their best interest. Same thing applies with your teams. If you go after being “liked” or “group happiness”, not only will you likely make most of them miserable, but your results as a company will falter.
  • Deal with the tough stuff fast–be willing to have adult conversations. Here is the phrase to say to yourself, “Principles before personalities.” This means you let principles guide the tough conversations, and you deal with the tough stuff right away instead of letting it fester.

Remember, leadership is a skill and you learn it by practicing it. Practice these ten core management commandments and watch your team and your company flourish…”

I have reproduced it in full because I really like the commandments – they make a lot of sense and they’re practical things that every leader can do, every day.

What do you think? What would your list look like if you were to write it? Anything missing?

Until next week, happy leading,



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