How to Be an Effective Leader

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Scenario: "Dude, we can learn leadership skills at business schools!"

  1. You want to be a superstar leader.
  2. You throw out buckets of cash on leadership books.
  3. Your think you're a king leader, so you hire a team.
  4. You suck. No one thrives with you.
  5. You fire them. You restart the cycle.

What would be the smarter approach? Drum-frickin-roll... Practice those leadership skills.

Why Practice Leadership Skills

Tiger Woods didn't become Tiger Woods without decades of practice. Likewise, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Jordan, Katherine Hepburn, and Salvador Dali didn't rock their crafts without years of intense practice. If you want to be great at X, practice X as much as humanly possible. Similarly, if you want to be a great leader, practice being a great leader as much as freakishly possible.

Where to Practice Leadership Skills

Granted, most of you probably don't lead a work team (yet!). So, how would you practice leadership skills if you don't have the opportunities to do so?


Exploit any opportunity where you can train your leadership expertise. Some examples include:

  • Coaching youth basketball.
  • Leading an online multiplayer team (e.g. Warcraft!).
  • Leading a ________ club.
  • Setting up some event.

According to a study by IBM, multi-player games such as Warcraft rock leadership skills:

Gamers learn collaboration, self-organization, risk-taking, openness, influence and how to earn incentives when involved in a [multiplayer online role-playing game].

How to Measure Your Effectiveness

You could lead a Warcraft team, and lose every frickin game; that certainly doesn't make you a kick-ass leader. Carly Fiorina led a multi-billion dollar merger managing some of the best players in the industry; but her bottom-line results proved otherwise, and the HP board acted accordingly. So, how do you measure your effectiveness as a leader? Focus on your team's performance.

  • What results did your team achieve?
  • How did your team improve?
  • How was team morale before/after your leadership?

If performance improved: Yay. If performance rocked: High-five. If performance rocked consistently every day/week/month/quarter/year: Youz-a-badass.



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Posted on July 23

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