Rules & Secrets of a Leader

I was recently asked to prepare a program on what leadership is for the upcoming CHSAA Student Leadership Conference.  As I reflected on my thoughts I realized I was never really taught (formally) what a leader’s job description looks like.

The phrase “experience is a great teacher” has taught me the most about what it means to be a leader.  I am also surrounded by great leaders and I have learned a lot by watching leaders lead; hence, great leaders lead by example.


Below is a list of Adrienne’s Rules & Secrets of a Leader”. Will you help me by weighing in with your thoughts?  Am I missing something?  Do you agree/disagree with something?  I would love to hear what you have to say!


Rule #1: Fake it ‘til you make it … check that… fake it ‘til you become it!

Secret #1: People rarely know what they are doing the first go-around, but leaders lead with confidence, enthusiasm and encouragement for those around them.


Rule #2: Make like a duck > look calm on top of the water but paddle like heck under the water.

Secret #2: Strive for perfection but don’t let perfectionism rule your definition of success.  Sometimes done is better than perfect.


Rule #3: Don’t micromanage! Let go and let others use their strengths. Delegate work and then use the theory of “bumper lanes” to help guide those around you to accomplish their individual tasks at hand.

Secret #3: Don’t try to “manage” people, help them develop their ideas. If you are truly leading, then you are guiding.

Rule #4: Humble yourself: ask for help.

Secret #4: Find a mentor!  Always have a person or a group of people in your corner who are much more successful than you (hint: these people are usually older).


Rule #5: The buck stops with you (the leader) and the devil is in the details – keep a great to-do list! Be organized with your goals and deadlines.

Secret #5: Be over prepared, not under prepared.


Rule #6: Leaders don’t see limitations, they see opportunities to think creatively.

Secret #6: Show enthusiasm when faced by the impossible.  Nobody wants to follow a negative sour-puss; however, also learn when to keep your mouth shut and be empathetic to others…  Nobody wants a 24/7 Polly Anna to deal with either.


Rule #7: Leaders help their group see the lessons in the failures, which makes “failures” not really failures but rather life’s lessons.

Secret #7: Leaders rarely lose their cool.  One of my older-wiser friends once taught me the reason people use foul language is because they have lost control of the situation. I have found this to be true 99.9% of the time.


Rule #8: Answer your phone!

Secret #8: Many opportunities are missed if you are in the habit of screening calls.


Rule #9: When you see something, say something.  If you witness something honorable – say something.  If you witness something out of line – say something.

Secret #9A: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Secret #9B: Protect your (good) people.  In other words defend then when necessary.


Rule #10: Be willing to do the unglamorous tasks (i.e. take out the trash, clean the bathrooms, and put on your overalls – so to speak – with a smile still glued to your face).

Secret #10: Be willing to give up the “credit” for your work.


Food for thought: Just because someone is “in charge” doesn’t necessarily make them the leader

There you have it.  Those are my rules and secrets. Are you willing to share yours?