Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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10 Quick and Helpful Tips for Senior Leaders

My audiences have heard me say several times that everyone in an organization is in sales and everyone is also a leader. We are responsible for leading our clients to good decisions, leading the people around us that reinforce the organizations mission and vision, and leading ourselves to work to our best potential.

Lately I have been noticing that some of my senior leaders are struggling with some of the more difficult aspects of their jobs. I thought these ten reminders, in no particular order, might be helpful.

  1. Leaders are paid to make tough decisions. Sometimes those decisions are not popular. Leaders will never have 100% of all the information on every single issue. Get comfortable making decisions based on the information you have. Then take responsibility for what you did.
  1. Leaders need to make sure their teams have the right tools to do the job right. Some things I learned from my military friends in the civil engineering core. If you are going to blow something up, make sure you have enough ammunition. The point is, if you are going to tell your team to do something, make sure they have what they need to do the job right.
  1. Leaders default to the good. They assume that others intend to do their best, not the worst. This does not mean leaders are naïve. They hold people accountable for their responsibilities and the expectations set for them. When there is a failure, leaders look to fix the problem. Leaders assume trust until that trust is broken.
  1. Leaders understand that in order to have people trust them, they need to display trust as well. People need to be able to trust their leadership and the people they work for. When a leader makes a promise, their word should be solid gold.
  1. Leaders know that they need to have organizational integrity. They assign people to positions and jobs based on the right mission and vision and the needs of the organization, not on favoritism or personalities.
  1. Leaders are always striving to learn something more. Leaders know that we can always be better today than we were yesterday. They are constantly challenging themselves and the people around them to be better.
  1. Leaders own all of the mistakes and all of the failures. All of the wins belong to the team
  1. Leaders know that during times of uncertainty, they need to inspire people to do more than what they thought they were capable of doing. People develop confidence when they take action moving forward. Confidence does not happen because someone is cheering for you. Confidence happens when you do something difficult. Leaders inspire the action that develops confidence.
  1. Leaders understand that success is hinged on risk. There are always risks. There is no such thing as perfect safety or security in anything. Leaders excel at assessing risk and making decisions based on their analysis.
  1. Leaders do not waste time. They do not overthink unimportant things, and they do not dwell needlessly on things that do not matter. Leaders must triage their time and teach others the value of effective time management find their example and accountability.

Leaders are constantly looking for tools that help their people stay focused, motivated, and accountable at work. The 12-Month Business Success and Accountability planner is here.


  1. Laurie Oken

    Mary Kelly is “class A” and knows firsthand what it takes for a leader to plant the seeds of inspiration in others to come together to fulfill the needs of the clients and the mission of the organization. She’s a motivator to those who cross her path!

    • Mary Kelly

      Laurie, thank you so much for your beautiful comment. I’m touched!


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