Axioms, Part 3: Axioms for Leaders

After all the books I've read and conferences I've attended, you would think I would be a much better leader!  At least I took good notes at some of them.  Here are some leadership axioms that I heard, read, or learned the hard way: 


1. Stubbornness is a virtue if you are right. (Tony Dungey)
2. Sometimes what a leader says is drowned out by what a leader does.  
3. Authority diminishes with use; influence increases with use.
4. Choose your battles carefully; ask yourself, “Is this issue central to my vision?”  You can win the battle and lose the war.  
5. “The way things are” is a human invention; if you can vision it differently, it is re inventable
6. Put your values in concrete and your methods in sand. 
7. “If you’re not willing to lose your job over a key issue, then your core value is your security. If you’re not willing to lose your job, you’re not a leader; you’re a hireling.” (Erwin McManus)
8. “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.” (Daniel H. Burnham)
9. What you measure gets done.  Be wise about what you choose to measure.  
10. A vision without a plan is a mirage.  
11. If you’ve got to bite the head off a frog, don’t spend a lot of time looking at it; if you’ve got to bite the head off two frogs, bite the biggest one first.
12. Vision leaks.  People forget the vision after about a month and need to be reminded.  Keep reiterating the vision until you are tired of hearing it.  Then say it some more.  
13. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
14. Recognize people in public; reprimand people in private.
15. Successful people are early risers.  
16. We tend to overrate rather than underrate our importance and think that far too many things can only be done by ourselves.
17. Time is the most precious of resources.  If you cannot manage your time, you cannot manage anything. 
18. A good way to evaluate programming is to ask – “If we did not already do this, would we do it now?”
19. The greatest enemy to tomorrow’s success is holding on too long to yesterday’s success.  Step one in an organization’s demise is, “hubris born of success.” (Jim Collins)
20. Before a leader can cast a vision for a more preferable future, s/he must explain why the status quo will no longer work. (Bill Hybels)  
21. If you are doing big things, you attract big people.  If you are doing little things, you attract little people.  Little people usually cause trouble.  (Winston Churchill)
22. A leader with low self-esteem will frequently self-destruct, sometimes at the moment of their greatest success.
23. It is usually better to have nobody than to hire the wrong person.
24. It is infinitely easier to hire someone than to fire someone.
25. Great decisions are often as much a matter of timing as events.  
26. One of the essential characteristics of a leader is a very healthy curiosity. 
27. A leader’s most import asset is not time but the energy that they bring to inspire others. (Bill Hybels) 
28. The greatest danger for an organization is not failure but to be successful and not know why. (Jim Collins)
29. If you delegate tasks, you create followers.  If you delegate authority, you create leaders.
30. People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.
31. “If you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh or they'll kill you.” (George Bernard Shaw)
32. “As a leader I've found that it's much easier to educate a doer than it is to activate a thinker.” (Andy Stanley)
33. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)
34. “Survival” is not a compelling vision that will inspire people in organizations.  When a leader appeals to your loyalty, they have nothing else to appeal to.  
35. “Leadership demands that you see both what is and what can be.” (John C. Bowling)
36. The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive.
37. The only difference between a rut and a grave is its depth. (Walter Wilkinson)
38. There is no safe way to be great. There is no great way to be safe. The safe paths have all been taken.
39. “If you fear critics, you'll never tell the truth. And if you don't tell the truth, you'll never change the world.” (Donald Miller)
40. CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?” CEO: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”


Dana Hicks