How to “Lead Like it Matters”

by Roxi Hewertson, Featured Contributor

Leadership authority cites 4 ways managers, executives and CEOs can create a positive ‘ripple effect’ and make a real difference in their quest for success.”

Whether you’re a manager, executive, or CEO, your leadership style matters. Whether you’re running a large global firm, a small project team or an entrepreneurial venture, it’s the way you communicate and connect to other people that can, and will, make or break your success. The key lies with making each and every connection count—to develop and leverage your skills and play on your strengths—in order to lead like it matters…because it does.

There are problems, pressuLeadership1res, and pain points that plague managers at every level—and most of them are solvable. Understanding that each and every leadership choice you make has some kind of a ‘ripple effect’ throughout your team and organization at large is critical to your success. As leaders, we need to know how to ensure that the ripples we make have the intended impact, whether it’s running meetings, handling conflicts, making confident decisions, or instituting needed changes in the workplace. When leaders approach and execute effective leadership correctly, they often gain greater control of their organization’s future, build highly productive teams, and can institute changes that “stick.

In my book, Lead Like it Matters…Because it Does,I focus on these 4 core tenets of leadership that, when mastered, best assure the desired “ripple effect” that can revolutionize the way one leads and succeeds:

  1. Personal Mastery: It’s imperative to discover exactly who you are as a leader and draw on your strengths to influence others—to know and grow the leader within. Personal mastery is discovering who YOU are as a leader, your purpose, values, and vision, how you affect others, your style, preferences, strengths and challenges—it all starts with you.

Begin by: getting direct feedback from your boss and anonymous feedback from your peers, direct reports, and even clients about your leadership style and impact. Then you can be certain of how you are perceived in your role and discern what’s Lead-leadershipworking for you and what’s not. Play to your strengths and work with trusted colleagues and/or a business or executive coach to mitigate your blind spots and challenges.

  1. Interpersonal Mastery: A powerful leader has excellent communication and people management skills that engage and inspire employees. These leaders know how to listen deeply and communicate effectively with others, how to constructively provide feedback (including to one’s boss), and how to manage conflict successfully.

Begin by: practicing deep listening as if your life depends on it. Most of us know how in theory, so be mindful and tactically apply it. At the end of every conversation, ask the person talking to you if they felt fully heard and understood by you, and then ask them why they felt that way. It’s also a good idea to practice demonstrating empathy in every conversation, no matter what the subject.

  1. Team Mastery: The most successful leaders harness the power of group dynamics to build stronger, more productive teams. No matter why a team is formed or who is on the team, the “not to’s” of building and maintaining effective teams do not vary. Leaders who want to succeed need their teams to succeed. And of course, teams are made up of individuals. The reality is, people are messy and groups are messy. It takes awareness, attention, time, and skill to get the best out of your teams. And it’s worth every ounce of investment, when done well.

Begin by: making the time to establish “ground rules” or “rules of engagement” for new or existing teams. These are the things that each team member NEEDS to feel safe, be fully heard, believe that they belong, and feel that what they have to offer matters to the leader and the other team members. With an established team, you might put this topic on the agenda as a simple “checking in on our team process,” “housekeeping” or “revisiting our team norms” line item. Employ whatever positioning works for you and your group. Then, make sure the group maintains accountability to the ground rules for themselves and each other to ensure the effort is not in vein.

  1. Culture and Systems Mastery: Take the lead in assessing your organization and make the changes you need to succeed—on every level. To understand leadership we must understand the cultures operating around us because culture affects us much like the air we breathe, and it is almost as important to our well-being. An organization’s espoused values may or may not reflect the real operating culture of the organization. You need to know, not guess or project, what the culture really is and how it actually affects your people and overarching business results.

Begin by: walking around the organization and really observing the lay of the land, as if you were in a foreign country. What language are they speaking; how are they dressed; what do their work “homes” look and feel like; how do different groups interact; how high or low is the smile meter around the workplace? This will get you started, but it certainly isn’t the whole story. For that, you have to delve deeper, and ask more questions. Just remember, never ask questions about the workplace if you are not prepared to hear the answers in a non-defensive manner or actually address issues brought to your attention.

[message type=”success”]When leaders excel at these four core facets of effective leadership, they will reap quantifiable rewards, including, but limited to, increased employee engagement, reduced turnover, and enhanced productivity. No matter the decision at hand, whether cutting wasteful meetings, addressing conflict, or better aligning decisions with tactical business needs, each and every choice a leader makes will have a ripple effect. It’s the leader’s approach, attitude, and skills that will determine if the resultant effects of seemingly singular choices will be helpful or a hindrance as each one cascades through the system..[/message]


Roxi Bahar Hewerston
Roxi Bahar Hewerston
ROXANA (Roxi) has spent her entire career leading and learning the truths about how and why leaders - great, mediocre, and awful - lead the way they do. For 35 years, she has helped both emerging and expert leaders boost quantifiable job performance in education, service, sales, productivity, and profits to achieve or exceed organizational and personal goals. Roxi has been leading teams since the '70s with her early years in the corporate recording industry, then as an entrepreneur, and finally as a senior university administrator. Her graduate work at Cornell University, focusing on leadership and change, added theory to all that practice, both of which she has taught students at Cornell.

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  1. You are so right. I call it being your authentic self – and also allowing yourself, as a leader, to be imperfect and give others permission to be imperfect – because we ALL are! People in positions of authority are not necessarily leaders. Leaders care about the success of their people more than themselves – and being honest about who you are and what matters to you as a leader is what every follower is looking for. Trust IS what matters – so anything that builds is good and anything that destroys is not.

  2. it is easy to agree with the points made. And…. my experiences coaching business Executives has shown me that ‘being human’, ordinary in some real ways, goes a long ways to building the trust that is so vital to a really well functioning team. If the leader is always buttoned down and perfectly prepared, when the slightest crack shows up in the armor, she/he is from then on a faker. Being human is a vital characteristic of business Executives with the very best performance records