The Leader’s Checklist: 15 Mission-Critical Principles
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Michael Useem, William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management and Director of the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; author, The Leader’s Checklist
Create and apply a complete list of vital leadership actions.
The absence of an action checklist is one of most correctable lapses in leadership. Through the simple step of creating and consistently applying the equivalent of a pilot’s or surgeon’s checklist, a leader is readied for whatever may be in store.
Albert Einstein once described the calling of modern physics as an effort to make the physical universe as simple as possible — but not simpler. The leader’s checklist is likewise at its best when it is as bare-bones as possible — but not more so. Just 15 mission-critical principles can define its core for most leaders, and the principles vary surprisingly little among companies or countries.
How Companies Use It:
No two leadership positions are exactly the same, nor do any two sets of circumstances require the identical exercise of leadership. While the 15 principles constitute a kind of “true north” for every manager, each leader’s checklist must also be customized for one’s personal place:
- A checklist for a major professional services firm identified nearly a dozen special capacities that it held to be vital for its managers, including seeing the world through clients’ eyes, enthusiastically engaging with clients, and working with them to transcend conventional thinking.
- The leader’s principles for General Electric include making tough personnel decisions and continually innovating, while the principles for Google place special emphasis on pursuing creative sparks and guiding others.