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The Eight Universal Laws of Leadership

Great leaders are made, not born, according to William A. Cohen. A West Point graduate and retired major general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve with an MBA and a PhD in management, Cohen knows something about leadership—whether it's on the battlefield or in the boardroom. Here he shares his rules, which anyone can follow to become a leader.

  • Maintain absolute integrity. If your staff doesn't trust you, they won't follow you. When the situation is calm, you may not notice or care if others trust you. But in tough times, when you need support the most, key people may hesitate to support you if they don't think you're trustworthy.
  • Know your stuff. No one cares if you're good at office politics. People want to follow the competent, so, although political savvy may get you promoted, it will not earn you the respect of those you want to lead. Only your knowledge and skills can do that.
  • Declare your expectations. Determine where you want to go and promote your goals, objectives and vision.
  • Show uncommon commitment. If you're not committed to your goals, no one else will be.
  • Expect positive results. Winners expect to win. Those who "think positive" will rack up more wins than those who don't.
  • Take care of your people and customers. If you take care of them, they will take care of you.
  • Put duty before self. You have a responsibility to your mission and your staff. Sometimes one comes before the other, but both always come before your personal interests or well-being.
  • Get out in front. Set the example. Get out of your office and talk to your people. See and be seen. Sitting in your office all day issuing commands is not leadership.

 

Source: Adapted from The Stuff of Heroes: The Eight Universal Laws of Leadership . Published by Longstreet Press, 1998. See also www.stuffofheroes.com .




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