7 ALIGNED Principles for Effective Leadership

Virginia Tech - Dept of Management building“Bachelor of Science in Business, Major – Management”

 … That’s what my diploma said.  But in 1983 we were in another “Great Recession” and entry-level management jobs were almost impossible to find.   With a little help, I found a role as a programmer for a textile company in my home town and began my years as an individual contributor.  Over the next 14 years I went through 3 industries, 4 companies and 8 managers.   Though they didn’t know it, during this entire time I was studying those managers.  I analyzed their strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures.  I was determined that when my turn came to lead, I would have mastered the techniques and be more than ready. 

When I finally got that first opportunity as a manager, I had sixteen direct reports.  16!  A bit daunting, but I knew I could handle it.  I knew how the perfect manager should behave.  How they should treat their staff.  How they should communicate.  I began to apply all that I had learned. 

It was a disaster. 

My staff hated me.  The team was in an uproar.  Goals and deadlines were vague memories.  And I was completely at a loss as to what I was doing wrong.  Thanks to two great mentors and some serious introspection, I began to see the issue.   The problem was not the implementation.  You see, I was treating my staff exactly the way I wanted to be treated.  I was the perfect manager – for me.  The problem was the in the assumption.  The way I wanted to be treated was not the way they wanted, or needed, to be treated.  Thus began the first of my seven principles of leadership – Attune.  Attune yourself to the needs of the team and its members. 

Over the years, I continued to learn and refine my style.  I became a good leader – or so I’m told – and others began to ask advice.   My best advice is to understand that a manager’s job has many aspects, but the most important one is leadership.  To be a good leader, I believe you must be ALIGNED – aligned with your team, your mission, your peers, your management and your own values.  Below are seven principles that I believe can help you focus on your effectiveness as a leader:  Continue reading