Forget the New 2019 Leadership Fad and Try These 13 Back-To-Basics Disciplines To Be A Great Leader


As I continue to travel around and see various businesses and organizations trying to get the edge on their competition or the market, I’m still astonished at the lack of basics from our leaders.  

Don’t get me wrong, the basics are hard.  And, sometimes they’re not hot or new. And, so they are rarely discussed (even though some of them have been around for years) and barely used.

However, they are time-tested and worth consideration.

Forget the the 2019 leadership buzzwords and try some of these concepts as you develop your leadership.

1) Consensus building that involves multiple perspectives and opinions.  

Consensus building recognizes that it’s not enough to simply have agreement, but that support of the decision throughout its implementation is critical to success.  To demonstrate a consensus-building mentality, leaders will have to cross the isle and find common ground from which to build the future of their organizations.

2) Effective and resolute decision making from all levels of the organization.  

Decision making involves a three-phase process:  a time of divergent thinking when a wide variety of perspectives are heard, the groan zone when we struggle with the depth and breadth of the diversity of thought and a time of convergent thinking when we actively seek to look for areas of agreement.  A wise leader will guide and encourage convergent thinking.

3) The ability to create collaborative tiger teams.  

A tiger team starts from a place of high performance because of the teaming skills that each person brings to the table from the get-go.  Leaders will need to find the best and brightest across the organization’s silos and build tiger teams (a cross section of talents in one group) to solve the huge problems we are facing with jobs, energy, and social issues.

4) Encourage dynamic conflict resolution.  

The past few years it seems everything and everyone has been so divisive and the ideological conflicts are so deep that leaders must deliberately spend time focused on conflict mediation between the various perspectives.  A body that attacks itself will destroy itself. Leaders will need to be a peacemaker and a unity-builder similar to Nelson Mandela and his Ubuntu philosophy.

5) The ability to facilitate high stakes, open meetings where the best information is shared, political groupthink is stopped in its tracks and moving forward means making a difference in actions and deeds.   

The word to facilitate means “to make easy.”  Leader’s should make it easy for us to see what really goes on in the organization.  If coalitions block or resist change, then leaders push for transparency and a fail forward mentality to see what is causing the problem.

6) Be able to communicate a clear and inspiring vision to your team and staff  

No leader will succeed if he/she just stands and tries to pull others to his/her side.   Your organization is a great organization capable of amazing accomplishments.  Leaders will need to rise above workplace politics and inspire a vision we can all support.

7) The aptitude to handle and manage the effects of constant, complex change and innovation.  

By 2020 our collective knowledge is expected to double every 72 days.  We are in massive change and don’t have a clue how to manage it successfully (consequently 75% of change initiatives fail or are cancelled).  Leaders must be a change champion capable of building coalitions of change, the case for change, and a vision for how the organization must change.   As Winston Churchill said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others.” We need leaders who demonstrate enormous courage in the face of all that we need to change.

8) Communicate the message of motivation that gives confidence to a fatigued economy and company.  

Motivation is an emotional – not logical – force based on competency, autonomy, meaningfulness and progress.  We need motivation in our organizations. Real, vulnerable, gritty motivation. Check out the CAMP Model of Motivation to start.

9) Trust between the organization and its people.  

Oh, this one is huge isn’t it?  Trust, according to Stephen Covey, Jr. is based on credibility which comes from competency and character.  Leaders must work every day to restore the trust of the what corporations and organizations have done to the worker over the past 20 years.  Leaders ask constantly: are we credible in what we’re doing? Are we competent with demonstrated excellence? Is our character above reproach?

10) Cross party lines and negotiate the terms.  

Our new leaders must be master negotiators who work deliberately on both the substantive issues as well as the relationship ones.  Fisher and Ury in Getting to Yes, suggest “in fact, the ongoing relationship is far more important than the outcome of any particular negotiation.”  Imagine a new leader who builds from a Zone of Acceptance, rather than accentuating the Zone of Rejection, who acts outside others’ expectations so that they will be more open to hearing what he/she has to say.

11) Implement smart, measurable, attainable, results-oriented and time-bound goals that the organization can support.  

John Kennedy moved us out of complacency with his “man on the moon” goal; Lyndon Johnson did the same with his “war on poverty” and “civil rights.” SMART Goal setting, strategic planning and getting things done is going to be key for leaders.  Read more about a One Page Strategy.

12) Manage a multitude of diverse, eccentric, complex personalities

The best leaders know how to manage boundaries, including difficulty personalities.  They refuse to let the “toxic” minority cripple the majority. They understand their own personality blind spots and build leadership teams that bring diversity of thought to compensate for those shortcomings.

13)  Be a one-of-kind, amazing level 5 leader.  

We need a Mr(s). Everything, a person who brings us together with a clear and commanding picture of all that is good within our organization, company, community, etc.  We need a leader with amazing courage to do what is unlikely; who surprises us with their compassion, intellect, humility, unwavering faith and overwhelming commitment to the good of the organization above all else.

Most of all, it's a New Year and it’s time for our leaders to get to work. Which discipline is your favorite?  Which one do you plan to put more emphasis on this year? Let us know!