12 CEO Leadership Tips

Everyone moving into a leadership position should closely read these 12 tips, from the experienced CEOs of Northwestern University and Lewis & Clark College. They resonate with all of the other advice I’ve heard (and read) from CEOs over the years:

  1. Think first, talk later. Everything you say will be taken literally.
  2. Talk less, listen more. This is especially true for a new leader brought in from outside.
  3. Show up. Every constituency wants you to be physically in the room on important occasions.
  4. Engage veteran employees. You want them on your side and you’ll learn from them.
  5. Don’t ignore the staff.
  6. Customers want to be consulted. You don’t always have to do what customers want, but you do need to seek their input.
  7. Answer nearly all messages. Sending a reply will save you trouble down the road.
  8. Use the board of trustees or directors. The board is your boss, and if you don’t like that, keep your resume up to date.
  9. Community relations matter. Bad relations with the local community can interfere with everything. Any effort you make will be graciously accepted and rewarded.
  10. Don’t take things personally. Many bad things are going to happen, and you will be blamed for most of them. Most of the attacks have more to do with the attacker than with you. Don’t beat yourself up.
  11. Don’t believe the hype. Hyping short-term success can undermine long-term progress.
  12. Don’t neglect your health. You will be fed constantly at meetings and events. Reserve time to enjoy your life. Act like a president and take control of your schedule.

From Barry Glassner, Lewis & Clark College, and Morton Schapiro, Northwestern University. WSJ April 29, 2014, p. A15.