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Thomas Paine is credited as the “the father of the American Revolution” courtesy of his Common Sense but I admire him as the man who said “lead, follow or get out of the way.”  If ever there was advice that every business executive should heed, this is it.

However, with age and experience, I’ve come to realize that effective leadership requires you to do all of these at some point.  So, if you are even remotely interested in a leadership role, I would invite you to consider becoming very comfortable with knowing how to lead, who to follow and when to get out of the way.

Personally, one of the best descriptions of “what leaders do” (or at least should do) that I have seen was written by Dustin Wax at  In his blog Mr. Wax offers the following advice on how to lea

  • Leaders listen
  • Leaders empower those around them
  • Leaders recognize others’ strengths
  • Leaders are trustworthy
  • Leaders are confident
  • Leaders make decisions
  • Leaders recognize the value of other opinions
  • Leaders commit to action
  • Leaders demand commitment from others
  • Leaders share ownership

WOW… what a list!  I think you will find it pretty easy to read but very hard to put into practice.

All too often people equate leadership with power or the need to assert their views, but true leadership comes from knowing:

  • When to jump in, or when to step aside?
  • When to take a stand or when to acquiesce?
  • When to make the hard decision or when to compromise?
  • When to stay the course or when to pivot?

In closing, I’d just like to remind you that the day you stop learning you will stagnate.  In fact, the day you stop having fun, your job (and life) can get very tedious.  End every day with a review of what you learned and how you experienced joy that day.  Take stock, remember, commit to repeating what works and not repeating what doesn’t.