Advice for Experienced Leaders

  • Value Training, Be a Mentor  New and young leaders need someone to teach them how to be a wise and good leader. Experienced leaders must share their knowledge, experience, and expertise with the next generation. And the best way to do this is one on one (same gender to same gender, too, lest there be any mixed signals). Be intentional about finding, mentoring, and developing future leaders. Your investment of time and skill will return benefits for decades, perhaps forever, as your mentee becomes a mentor later. And, when you’re almost finished with one young leader, find another one and keep it going.
  • Employee Evaluation  Employee evaluations should be done every time an employee meets with his or her supervisors, as every employee should know every day what their employment status is. The annual evaluation time is merely to fill out paperwork, not to go into in-depth evaluations. Employees who do not know what their status is may feel a Damocles Sword hanging over their heads and thus might not be as productive as they could be because they’re wondering when or if they’ll be terminated. Keep your staff informed, and let them know each month when you meet with them how they are doing.
  • Set the Stage for the Next Generation  Over the years your organization has taken on your personality traits; that is a truism in business. However, these ruts and routines created by you will probably not be helpful to your successor who, frankly, needs to create his or her own. As you end your career, you need to be intentional about who is on key committees, what processes are being done “because the boss wants it” (and not because it helps the company per se), what “minefields” need to be cleared out so your successor doesn’t wander into them, and what personnel need to be moved on so they are not a headache to the next leader. Set up your successor for success; clear the launch platform of unnecessary things so the next leader can shoot for the stars.
  • Make Stakeholders Uncomfortable  For the most part, stakeholders in organizations want things to continue in the same ways so that their personal investment is not threatened but is instead honored. Stakeholders may be current or former employees, board members, longtime customers or vendors, major and minor donors, etc. Organizations cannot live in the status quo, and going forward often involves risks. It is up to the leader (hence the term “leader”) to nudge or even shove the organization and its stakeholders forward. Experienced leaders know the key stakeholders and will work with them to move everyone forward so that the organization doesn’t die from valuing the status quo over progress.
  • Foment Wealth-Sharing  You have tremendous experience and knowledge. Do not hoard that; share it with your community by serving on non-profit boards, volunteering in community-based organizations, and helping your church. You are responsible for leaving your neighborhood, church, and city better off than you found it. You stood on other people’s shoulders in order to achieve your status as a leader – you need to pay it forward by helping your community and its leaders be even better than where they are now. AND, you must challenge, prod, and encourage other leaders to do the same. You are rich in life – share the wealth!
  • Teach Wise Risk-Taking  Risk-taking is part of business, but it is not intuitive because everyone wants their “risks” to be certain successes. Experienced leaders know that failure is part of risk, but failures can minimized by taking “wise risks.” That involves asking lots of questions, doing an incredible amount of due diligence, and training people well. Risks are a necessary part of leadership – not taking risks means the person in charge is managing, not leading. Risks should be done strategically so that the “win” is clearly defined. AND, when the risk turns to failure, wise leaders know when to stop the venture cut the losses. Experienced leaders must teach the next generation how to take wise risks.

Lead On!