Things Leaders Do

an article by Barb McEwen
PowerPoint images
by Profound Backgrounds

A while back, Fast Company had an article about General Electric's CEO Jeff Immelt who had a checklist of 'Things Leaders Do'. At that time he reinforced these
principles when he taught up-and-coming leaders. You might be interested to hear what they are:

  1. Personal Responsibility: 'You lead today by building teams and placing others first. It's not about you.'
  2. Simplify Constantly: 'Every leader needs to clearly explain the top three things the organization is working on. If you can't, then you're not leading well.'
  3. Understand Breadth, Depth and Context: 'The most important thing I've learned since becoming CEO is context. It's how your company fits in with the world and how you respond to it.'
  4. The Importance of Alignment and Time Management: 'At the end of every week, you have to spend your time around the things that are really important: setting priorities, measuring outcomes and rewarding them.'
  5. Leaders Learn Constantly and Teach: 'A leader's primary role is to teach. People who work with you don't have to agree with you, but they have to feel you're willing to share what you've learned.'
  6. Stay True to Your Own Style: 'Leadership is an intense journey into yourself. You can use your own style to get anything done. It's about being self-aware. Every morning, I look in the mirror and say, 'I could have done three things better yesterday.''
  7. Manage by Setting Boundaries with Freedom in the Middle: 'The boundaries are commitment, passion, trust, and teamwork. Within those guidelines, there's plenty of freedom. But no one can cross those four boundaries.'
  8. Stay Disciplined, Detailed and Focused: 'Good leaders are never afraid to intervene personally on things that are important. Michael Dell can tell you how many computers were shipped from Singapore yesterday.'
  9. Leave a Few Things Unsaid: 'I may know an answer, but I'll often let the team find its own way. Sometimes, being an active listener is much more effective than ending a meeting with me enumerating 17 actions.'
  10. Like People: 'Today, it's employment at will. Nobody's here who doesn't want to be here. So, it's critical to understand people, to always be fair, and to want the best in them. And when it doesn't work, they need to know it's not personal.'

Executive Coaching is all about you and your development. The technical skills that got you where you are today won't necessarily keep you there. The organization expects their leaders to continuously improve, enhance their own abilities, understand what the organization deems as important, convey the vision and get things done through others.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about the coaching process,
please feel free to contact me.


You are welcome to reprint these articles as long as the following quotation is printed at the conclusion of each reprinted article. Hyperlinks as below must be included in the quotation.

Barb McEwen is a Master Executive Coach and Organizational Strategist who works with corporations and individuals worldwide. As founder of 20/20 Executive Coaching and 20/20 Executive Women she has spent the past twelve years working with high potential individuals to help them hone their leadership and management skills. Contact Barb at