Sheila Madden, CEO, Madden Coaching & Consulting

Do you ever notice that genuine leaders never stop saying “yes” to life? When good things are happening they celebrate but continue moving forward and no matter what adversity faces them, they find a way to transform it and create something good.

Fundamentally, that is what leadership is. It has nothing to do with titles, paychecks, spans of control or expectations.  It has everything to do with who someone is on the inside. It has to do with the character, creativity and promise with which they approach every single person, situation and day.

Old Made New Again

In 2011 we experienced a leadership crisis that spanned the globe and seemingly touched every industry and sector of the world economy.  We could not have asked for a more perfect catalyst for waking us up to the reality that the world we live in today requires a new kind of leadership. The odd thing is, this new kind of leadership is really the old kind of leadership.

The Universal Truths of Leadership

There is no question that the velocity and volume of challenges that we face today are growing and will continue to grow. No one can claim that we will see a reduction in complexity on any level any time in the foreseeable future.  And ironically, if we’re honest, we also have to admit that the more we learn, the less we actually know.

Leadership isn’t about having all the answers to these dilemmas and questions. It isn’t about being able to anticipate, plan or solve all problems before they happen…that is impossible. It isn’t even about those qualities we often hear used to describe great leaders: charismatic, inspiring, visionary. While those are all wonderful characteristics, they are usually the result of something more fundamental and basic.

When it comes right down to it, just as there are universal truths about life that we have seen repeated in philosophical and spiritual traditions since the dawn of humankind, there are also universal truths about what makes for great leadership. Indeed, there are certain behaviors that have consistently provided inspiration and the opportunity for achievement. They are the same behaviors that have also provided stability and that have guided people successfully through all types of turbulent times.

Coach Madden’s Top 10 Basic Leadership Behaviors for 2012:

I don’t pretend to know what all of those behaviors have been or could be. But I’ve put together my picks for the Top 10 basic leadership behaviors for 2012:

  1. Tell the truth, always.
  2. Keep your word to everyone.
  3. Be humble, especially when you have the right to feel proud of yourself.
  4. Don’t let fear of failure stop you, ever.
  5. Be genuinely curious and lead from that state of mind.
  6. Hold yourself and others accountable for actions and results.
  7. Convert failures into productive insights and actions quickly.
  8. Daily ask yourself “what am I not asking, seeing or doing that I need to?”
  9. Tend to your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing regularly to be at your best and ready for any opportunity or challenge.
  10. Never forget that you, your organization, family, community, environment and world are interconnected. Act accordingly.

Take the Challenge!

Some might say that this is too simplistic. Some might say it is too idealistic. Perhaps they would be right, but perhaps not. 

Here is the real question: What might change if each of us, and leaders all over the world, practiced these 10 behaviors for the next 12 months?

 My challenge to each of us as leaders is to try this. Let’s get back to basics and see how doing so just might unleash the creative response we need to make 2012 the year that great leadership leads the world to an unprecedented economic turnaround and to  renewed confidence and respect for leaders around the globe.