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The baby girl who has inspired one of America’s biggest philanthropic pledges – and what we can learn from her father

3rd December 2015

5 Top Tips for leadership success

Can Mark Zuckerberg be any nicer? Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan today announced that they will give away 99% of their shares in Facebook to good causes as they announced the birth of their daughter Max. Mark made the announcement in a letter to Max on his Facebook page. You MUST read it – this baby girl has inspired one of America’s biggest philanthropic pledges!

The Facebook founder said they were donating their fortune to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to make the world a better place for Max to grow up in. The initiative will support good causes particularly in the areas of health, education and community. The pledge was backed by a formal SEC filing which revealed Zuckerberg will not give away more than $1 billion each year for the next three years.

What more can I say about this? Other than ‘wow’! Mark Zuckerberg has enjoyed overwhelming success and incredible financial reward as a result, and for me, his doing this bears all the hallmarks of what I would call a great leader and true philanthropist.

It can take many years to become an overnight success and leader on a level and scale like Zuckerberg. But if you are willing to do the work and follow this advice, you can certainly expect to make a positive impact on so many different fronts.

None of the tips in the following blog are difficult to implement, but they are extremely powerful and if you apply them you will see a step change in your team’s performance. And this is what a good leader ultimately wants.

Here are 5 Top Tips for leadership success which people like Mark Zuckerberg probably have embedded in their DNA!

  1. Go for respect

Good leaders work hard to earn (not demand) the respect of others.

As people, we all have a natural tendency to want to be liked by others. But what happens when the desire to be liked interferes with your ability to lead?

Effective leaders recognise it is more important to be respected by their people than adored. They practise ‘tough love’ and can make those hard decisions that are needed to secure the future of those around them, including their direct reports.

Your people must be respected and buy in to you as leader before they’ll buy into your vision!

  1. Build on strengths

Everyone focuses on trying to improve weaknesses and fault fixing. You can distinguish yourself as a leader by paying attention to areas of strength, as this is where you’ll receive the greatest return for your investment.

Think about it: where is the greatest area of opportunity for you and your company?

Is it by trying to get better at those things you don’t do well – pouring all your energies into them and simply taking your strengths for granted?  Or is it by developing and refining those things you’re already great at and making them even stronger, whilst trying to raise the bar a little higher on the weaker areas??

Success comes from playing to your strengths and managing (not ignoring) your weaknesses.

  1. Communicate, communicate

Communication is critical – you can never over communicate!

Listen, consult, involve, and explain ‘why’ as well as ‘what’ needs to be done. Take time to listen and really understand people. Walk the job, meet your people in their workspace – ask and learn more about what they do and how they feel.

It’s true you can communicate poorly, or communicate and say nothing, but if your messages are clear, then communicate, communicate, communicate!

Communicate your goals, communicate your plans and communicate your progress so that your team knows what to do, how to do it and the results that they are achieving.

  1. Lead by example

Leadership is about behaviour first, skills second. You manage things but you lead people.

Act as you would want your people to behave, but also understand and recognise the subtleties that your role is different from that of your employees I am sure Mark Zuckerberg would understand this.

Consider the concept of the “shadow of the leader” – your shadow follows you in everything you say and do. What shadows are you casting?

Every day you are under the spotlight and what you personally do, (or don’t do) will set the benchmark for your people – don’t expect more from others than you give yourself – you have to give it before you get it.

Most leaders speak about the importance of being able to “walk the talk” and whilst this is clearly important, in reality your people will be far more influenced by what you actually do. Effective leaders have learnt the need to “walk your walk.”

We measure ourselves by what we think we’re capable of – others will measure us by what we actually do.

Lead by action and achievement, show the way, and lead the way. Get involved; be hands-on where possible and appropriate.

  1. Be bold

You can’t inspire teams with small (or no) goals and you will not create a significant improvement in performance with small goals either.

Aim high and set ambitious goals, but not impossible goals. Instil a sense of purposeful urgency.

Be as demanding of others as you are of yourself – set high standards and expect the best.

Stretch and positively challenge your team, push their boundaries and get them really thinking about how they can do things differently.

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