Common Sense Leadership Principles

Lancaster University Management School

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Common Sense Leadership (CSL) is a fairly recent leadership phrase and cannot be defined in one single way. Webber, Goussak and Ser (2012) worked along with senior industry business leaders who shared that CSL was defined by 6 principles, namely:

(a) Leading by example: Leaders need to accept the mistakes and move on. Leaders listen to their associates and give them proper credit and rewards for their efforts. They have to remain positive even in the presence of what appears to be extreme negative. It is important for them to inspire others to kindness, decency, and the Golden Rule. They need to act today as if someone is writing down all of their deeds and that they will have to read the book of their lives out loud in 10 years to a room full of people.  They will also need to be fair, relentless and persevere.

(b) Managing your human assets: Where appropriate, they should bend company policies to retain and manage employees because sometimes, common sense has to trump policy. Ultimately, managing people is about “getting people to happily get where you want them to go on their own”.

(c) Doing the right thing: Leaders have to evaluate the effect that their decisions have on others and whether they can be proud of the decision. Evaluate what is being considered and if it meets the company values and objectives.

(d) Seeing the big picture: Leaders have to discern what to ignore so that it “frees up bandwidth to work on the meaningful stuff”. It will also mean that one has to invest a great deal of time with the core leadership team so that the “cultural principles of the organization are so strongly inculcated that the

team can make independent decisions that are in keeping with the principles of leadership.”

(e) Making the right hiring and transitional decisions: Leaders need to hire the best people and invest the time and resources into them to develop their full potential. At the same time, it is important for them to have the common sense best practice to terminate someone who is no longer a good fit with corporate goals.

(f) Developing a plan that work: Leaders have to have the “vision to see what is currently not visible and the faith to not pay attention to what everyone else is looking at”.

The original article can be found at Advances in Management & Applied Economics, vol. 3, no. 4, 2013, 1-9


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