Leading Your People

Leading Your PeopleTo create your leading your people maxims, you need to explore how you want to interact with the individuals on your team.  This self-examination requires you to figure out what you want to stand for and what your team should expect from you in every interaction.  You must also think about how you will build their skills and capabilities.

A maxim by definition is a principle or rule of conduct.  In the context of the leadership maxims approach, it is a short, personally meaningful and easily explained statement that reflects one of your beliefs about leadership.  Maxims do not contain buzzwords.  Maxims are simple, clear statements that serve as reminders for how you want to behave and lead and how you want your team members to behave.

I invite you to share your maxims and ideas related to leading your people in this forum.  Simply write your maxim and share the personal story behind it in the comments below.  I’ve shared a few of my own.  I look forward to reading yours. If you’re interested in courses we teach related to leading your people, just look for the LYP icon on our course listing page.

14 Comments → “LEADING YOUR PEOPLE”


  1. Nick H.

    4 weeks ago

    Maxim: “Gladiator”

    My maxim is “Gladiator” because it reminds me of a time when I was the most senior engineer (at age 25) in a shop working for a new official lead from outside the organization. This new lead was given every opportunity to “do right”, but the lead continued to throw the team under the bus and basically take the team for granted. I learned from this scenario to trust myself and the people around me, but most importantly, I learned to lead by example.

    I chose “Gladiator” because in that movie, Maximus (General of the Roman Legions) has the loyalty of his men; the new Emperor, Commodus has the loyalty of very few. I felt like the General in the above scenario; I had the loyalty of my team, and I trusted them in turn. However, we never tried to overthrow the “Emperor”.

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  2. Scott Miller

    4 years ago

    Great leaders understand they are responsible for more than just themselves. Great leaders also understand they are part of something greater than themselves. That “something greater” includes people all up, down and sideways on the org chart. Never miss an opportunity to recognize the leadership shown by any teammate, regardless of their station. No one diminishes their leadership by inspiring and encouraging leadership skills in others.

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  3. Susan Lin

    4 years ago

    After starting a tiny team from scratch and growing it to a much larger team, thereafter inheriting another large team, I’ve had the pleasure (and rocky moments!) of experiencing what it took to build a productive, happy group of people.

    Here, in no particular order, are my maxims:

    – Present reality, inspire hope
    You can’t hide the truth, however ugly, from anybody for very long. People are smart; they figure things out! I always try to convey to my teams the reality of the circumstance, but follow it up with what I am (or what management is) doing to mitigate and/or what we can do as a team to make lemonade out of lemons.

    – Let People Know You’re There For Them
    Making yourself accessible boosts engagement, and I don’t mean just “ping me if you need anything” but as in visiting folks and just saying hello and asking how they’re doing.

    – Let People Know You Understand
    Know their job so they know you understand what they’re going through. Provide context to them: acknowledge any parts of the job that aren’t exciting, convey the ultimate impact their work has on the business, encourage them to bring their creativity where it makes sense.

    – A Few Kind Words
    A congratulatory email on a job well done. A quick stop by your team member’s desk to say “I like what you did,” or “You’re going in the right direction” – anything to let them know you care, and you notice them and what they’re doing. It only takes mere moments, and it goes a long way.

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  4. Todd Cherches

    5 years ago

    Encourage and empower your people to always be thinking, “How can I go ‘ABCD’?” “ABCD” stands for “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.” Seek not to meet, but strive always to exceed expectations. On a scale of one to ten, think about how you can turn it up to eleven (which is one higher…for you Spinal Tap fans). But keep in mind that as a leader of others, you must be willing to empower others. And doing that entails giving up some of your own power. Are you willing to do that? That’s for you to decide.

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  5. Michael

    5 years ago

    Does it build trust…your actions, your re-actions, your communications… Does it build trust is a simple filter to keep in mind–no, let me correct myself–to actually put into action as you go through the day. Try it.

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    • Dave Geenens

      5 years ago

      Building trust must be intentional, but knowing when trust has been breached, or knowing when it is on the verge of being breached is better. Listen enough to identify a trust question or observe a non-trusting behavior and respond in a way that always, always, always, builds trust.

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  6. Edna Pasher

    5 years ago

    “People search for love at work too”

    Let them do what they love

    This way they contribute more and are happy to volunteer to do even more.
    When you force them to do what they donwt love – everybody loses.

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  7. Jackie Bailey

    5 years ago

    It was Ralph Smedley who said, “Leadership is the capacity to influence others to achieve worthwhile results.”
    It’s not enough to be a good leader, and to influence your team to follow. True leadership happens when you are working toward developing more leaders. There will always be followers. What the world and every business and government needs is more competent leaders—that is a worthwhile result!
    In my business and in the non-profit work I do, it’s always about developing greater leadership skills in those I work with. I want them to be better than me. I have no aspirations of granduer.

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  8. Keith Thorneburg

    5 years ago

    Put People First

    I put the human being at a higher priority than the task or job at hand. I have greater priorities in life than those at work and I want those around me to feel the same. I am encouraged to take time away from the office to attend a function with my daughter, my boss doesn’t berate me because I come in an hour late so I can take my son to a doctor’s appointment, and I don’t feel pressured to leave my wife alone at home with the kids when she’s sick. All these are little things in the big scheme of life, but they make a huge difference in how I feel about the organization I’m a part of. Then, when I do have to work long hours, travel away from home, or work through the weekend, it’s not a big deal, because I know when I need the time away I’ll be happily given the opportunity.

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  9. Shola AJANI

    5 years ago

    Leadership is a privilege not a right, people follow you cos they believe in you, when that stops and you insist on leading, abuse sets in.

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  10. Kim Covert

    5 years ago

    Be a Part of the Team.

    Don’t be afraid to sit down beside your employees and work. You will gain a new appreciation for for the work that they do. Just because it looks easy does not mean that it is. While you are sitting there ask questions. Ask them for suggestions on improving quality and productivity. The answers might surprise you. Take an interest. Find out what it is that motivates them and what come naturally to them. Employees are the key to the success of every company. Take time to find out the natural strengths of your employees and put them in a position that uses their strengths. A person who enjoys their job and confident in what they do will have good attendance, produce more, and encourage others. Attitudes are contagious.

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  11. Chad

    6 years ago

    My maxim that reminds me to know and understand the work my people do is “Undercover Boss.” I loved that book and the show that went along with it. It reminds me that if C-level executives can get dirty and learn what their people do, then I should be willing to do the same.

    Now it’s harder for me to pretend to just be a worker like they did because everyone on my team knows who I am but that said, I can still go work on the front lines from time to time. Sure it’s hard work but the people on my team always appreciate me helping out and taking an interest in their work. So any time I start making excuses as to why I’m too busy to spend the day on the front line, I just remember Undercover Boss and it gets me off my butt and out there working with my team.

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  12. Mike Figliuolo

    6 years ago

    My maxim is a can of 7Up. I had a soldier at one point who was a poor performer. Like realllly poor performer. One day I sent out a member of my platoon to get sodas and I told him what to get for each member of the platoon. When he handed the 7Up to the poor performer and said I told him to get it for that guy, the guy’s attitude (and performance) changed dramatically. He later told me that me knowing him well enough to know he drank 7Up meant a lot to him because it demonstrated I cared about him as an individual. To this day, that can of 7Up represents the importance of knowing and treating your people as individuals and how doing so can unlock great performance.

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  13. Michele

    6 years ago

    One of the best bosses I’ve ever had always let me fail. He knew learning was important to me and anytime I actually did fail, he’d tell me “through failure comes growth” (he was a very zen kind of guy). The fact that he was willing to invest in my growth by taking risk and letting me fail meant a lot to me. I try to take the same approach with my team and I have found myself saying “through failure comes growth” to them on many occasions so I guess that kind of makes it a maxim of mine for how I like to lead my people.

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