6 Leadership Tools Great Leaders Keep On Their Desk
The environment in which you work greatly affects your attitude, productivity, and ability to focus. Great leaders know this. And in order to be the most effective, great leaders seek out the best leadership tools. They organize their workspace so that these tools are in easy reach.
But this post may not be what you thought. It’s not about gadgets or software. Not all tools are literal and physical. The best leadership tools are behavioral and available to all. They are attitudes that shape how we lead. They are intentional strategies that make a difference in one’s leadership. They are tools that can be carried with you anywhere.
These common leadership tools, metaphors really, can be found on any great leader’s desk.
1. A Pencil
Because with a pencil a great leader can write out the direction. They can write out an amazing plan and narrate the path to follow. They know that the strength of a pencil comes not only in it’s ability to write, but also in its ability to erase. Great leaders frequently need to erase. They make a decision or start an initiative and soon realize there was a better path. They make mistakes and have to correct their errors. Great leaders aren’t embarrassed to admit they’ve messed up or too proud to give it another shot. They learn from their mistakes. They admit them. They own them. Then they move on. Write. Erase. Rewrite.
“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” ~ John C. Maxwell
2. A Pen
Because great leaders know there are times when a decision has to be made that can’t be easily erased. They know when to choose a pen instead of a pencil. They may prefer more time or information, but they know the organization cannot wait any longer. Great leaders don’t let indecision linger. They act. They implement. They move on.
“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
3. A Note Pad
Because great leaders know that if they try to run on the power of their own mind and abilities, they will forget things. Important things. But if they admit their limitations, commit key items to the pad in writing, they will expand their capabilities exponentially. They need something more than themselves. They have limits. They can’t do it all. They can’t simply “wing it.” They need help. They need resources they can rely on when the job pushes them beyond their strengths. They need tools, and processes, and other people. Ultimately great leaders need other people.
“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” ~ Steve Jobs
4. A Good Book
Because great leaders are always learning. They make time for it. They seek out challenging and thought provoking ideas to stir them into action. They look to the biographies of leaders who have gone before for the lessons they can glean. They read about their industry. They find lasting principles that apply to many areas of life. And they read novels that spark the mind’s creativity. Great leaders not only have a good book on their desk, but a shelf full of books, or perhaps a whole library. Great leaders don’t know it all, but they love learning.
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” ~ Oscar Wilde
5. A Highlighter
Because great leaders understand the the purpose of the highlighter is to make the most important things the most visible things. They know that the best accomplishments, information, and stories need to be brought forward. Great leaders know that the kinds of stories they bring to the forefront will reinforce to the organization what is valued. They know the stories that will motivate, inspire, and create the desired culture and outcomes. They know what will reinforce the direction and mission of the organization.
“What gets celebrated gets replicated.” ~ Unknown
6. Clear Space
Because great leaders need to work with a clear focus. Being surrounded by unnecessary clutter can too easily pull them off-task. They know that know that distraction is the enemy of vision. When a leader is pulled off-task, they are ultimately off-mission and off-vision. They are intentional, selective, and focused. Great leaders jettison the good things for the sake of the best things.
“Concentration is the secret of strengths in politics, in war, in trade, in short in all management of human affairs.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Are you a great leader?
The great thing about these items is that they can be found on your desk as well. They are not available only to the elite CEO, but to any leader wishing to make a impact. They come at an affordable cost…a little effort and intentionality.
– Question: As a leader, which of these items do you need to work on? Which is your strength?