Tips on Leadership

Here’s a great quote that presents a fun visual: “a fish rots from the head down”.

Poor leadership is the source of many, many business problems. People don’t quit jobs; they quit people. There is plenty of research indicating the number one reason people leave their jobs is incompatibility with their boss and the organization’s values.[1][2]

I spend a lot of time supporting clients who are navigating the challenges of attempting to lead others. While there are potentially countless ways to improve leadership, here are three tips that are more common than we may realize.


I just chose a broad term there, but this one is all about a leader’s care and concern for his/her people. Increasing humanity as a leader involves asking people how they are, remembering their family members’ names, asking them about events and activities (not just how their weekend was), and taking a genuine interest in their lives and work. It involves supporting them when they need a little extra grace at work, and it involves challenging and motivating them when you know they can achieve more. But it’s all done with a genuine attitude of compassion, care, and, yes, humanity.


Good communication is based on honesty and transparency. Those things build trust, which feeds better communication, which builds trust, which…well, you get the idea! Many leaders think they can’t be transparent. It’s true that there are things about which we cannot share all, but we can be transparent about our inability to be transparent and why. Small change, big impact. Also, a great tip from a friend of mine: however much you’re currently communicating to and with your team, double it. Remember the adage: say it three times.


Work is tough. For the leader, too. We spend most of our week at work. Yes, people need to get stuff done and achieve goals, but we can still have fun. The leader sets that tone, and it’s critical to your team’s morale and their resulting productivity. Effective leaders make jokes, especially self-deprecating ones, do silly things occasionally, ensure celebrations for birthdays, holidays, and events, and even bring donuts on the occasional Friday! Inject a little more fun into the workplace, and watch the team come alive.

To be clear, there are many times when leaders need to be tough; pushing team members to go the extra mile to accomplish great things. But these three tips will make those times a lot easier to accept and will increase the team’s trust in their ability to do what the leader pushes them to do. And I would roughly estimate that more than half of all leadership problems can be solved by a short-term, strategic focus on one of the three items above.


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Craig A. Escamilla
Craig A. Escamilla
Craig Escamilla helps you find solutions before problems exist. With fifteen years of consulting, teaching, and senior management experience, Craig brings a wealth of practical expertise to helping others work on rather than in their businesses.

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