Originally published October 27, 2014

We can always use more leaders who can make positive contributions to business, education, government, non-profits, and all other types of organizations and teams. Here I have compiled tips on the ABCs (Actions, Behaviors, and Characteristics) of effective leaders. Also see How to Be an Authentic Leader, the associated reading list, Lessons in Leadership, Articles, Presentation, and Books about Leadership, and Leadership Books.



  1. Principles — have a core set of principles and values, and strive to uphold them
  2. Act — take action as needed, after careful consideration, and in a timely manner
  3. Trust your people and colleagues, unless they give you reason not to do so
  4. Honest — as much as possible, be honest, open, and transparent
  5. Bold — don’t be afraid to innovate and try new things
  6. Upbeat — stay positive, optimistic, and calm
  7. Integrity — be ethical, fair, and accountable
  8. Loyal — always have the backs of your people
  9. Decisive — make timely decisions based on available information
  10. Enlighten — communicate appropriately, thoroughly, and promptly
  11. Recognize — regularly thank, praise, and celebrate colleagues and team members
  12. Serve — focus on supporting your team members with whatever they need


  1. Lead the organization’s people and teams authentically.
  2. Establish the vision, mission, and direction for the organization, develop action plans, and lead projects.
  3. Achieve a positive culture that rewards caring, sharing, and daring.
  4. Define principles and values, goals and objectives, and measurements and rewards.
  5. Engage by communicating regularly to keep all members of the organization informed and involved, regularly soliciting suggested improvements and candid feedback, and taking as much action as possible on the input received.
  6. Report regularly on the organization’s performance against established metrics.
  7. Serve the people, the stakeholders, and the local community.
  8. Hang out with other leaders to exchange ideas, solicit advice, and keep up with innovations.
  9. Improve organizational results.
  10. Practice what is preached, model the desired behaviors, and lead by example.


  1. Passion — have passion for your work, convey it to your people, and demonstrate it in your actions
  2. Integrity — establish, maintain, and promote core values; be fair, honest, and responsible
  3. Communication — regularly let stakeholders know what is going on by communicating coherently, completely, and compellingly to inspire, align, and motivate
  4. Knowledge — know as much as you can about your work, share your knowledge with others, and encourage them to do the same
  5. Love — love what you do, love your people, and show love to the people with whom you interact
  6. Empowerment — listen to, trust, and enable your people to succeed
  7. Service — serve your people, your organization, and your community


  1. Treat others fairly and with respect
  2. Respond quickly and decisively
  3. Understand what your colleagues need
  4. Support your team members
  5. Tell the truth


1. Ten Tips

  1. Follow your passions — play to your strengths
  2. Treat others with respect — and earn theirs
  3. Never give up — keep on striving
  4. Be true to your word — do what you say you will
  5. Stay positive — have fun in what you do
  6. Expect a lot of yourself — and of others
  7. Challenge conventional wisdom — think for yourself
  8. Ask not what others can do for you — ask what you can do for them
  9. Leave the world a better place — make a contribution
  10. Put a little love into everything you do — it is always possible

2. Four Fundamentals

  1. Practice and reward caring, sharing, and daring — caring for others, sharing what you know, and daring to try new ideas
  2. Insist on trust, truth, and transparency in all dealings — earn and respect the trust of others, communicate truthfully and openly, and demonstrate and expect accountability
  3. Look for opportunities to help, thank, and praise others
  4. Eliminate criticism, blame, and ridicule in all interactions with others

3. The Right Stuff

  1. Do what is right — logically, financially, morally, ethically, and environmentally — with decency, integrity, and fairness
  2. Do it the right way — honestly, accurately, correctly, and completely — with good effort, resulting in high quality, and meeting all commitments
  3. Do it right away — don’t procrastinate, make excuses, or avoid what is unpleasant — the sooner you start, the better

4. Eight Axioms

  1. Leaders should be open, honest, authentic, accessible, and responsive. People want to follow good leaders who are inspirational, straightforward, and fair. Bad leaders eventually get what they deserve, although it often appears to take too long for this to happen.
  2. Set no more than three goals, and keep them simple and easy to remember.
  3. You can’t make yourself a leader by proclaiming that you are in charge. You must command respect through your words and deeds, leading by example, and serving others.
  4. Good communication matters. Use language carefully, correctly, and clearly. Avoid buzzwords, confusing jargon, and corporate speak.
  5. Tell the truth. People can tell when you are lying.
  6. Rely on your colleagues. Ask them to review what you are working on, and they will give you good advice. If you do good things for others without concern for what’s in it for you, your colleagues will be glad to reciprocate.
  7. Lead by example, practice what you preach, and model desired behaviors.
  8. Recognize and reward for desired behaviors.


1. Roles

  1. Principles
  2. Values
  3. Objectives
  1. Inspire
  2. Align
  3. Motivate
  1. Listening
  2. Trusting
  3. Supporting

2. Attributes

  1. Trust, Truth, and Transparency
  2. Caring, Sharing, and Daring
  3. Integrity, Loyalty, and Courage
  1. Respect, Recognize, and Reward
  2. Empower, Empathize, and Encourage
  3. Coach, Communicate, and Collaborate
  1. Approachable, Fair, and Logical
  2. Passionate, Persistent, and Persuasive
  3. Calm, Creative, and Curious


1. Thou shalt

  1. Be bold
  2. Be upbeat
  3. Know what’s going on
  4. Tell stories
  5. Act
  6. Collaborate
  7. Seek out ideas of others
  8. Try new things
  9. Remain calm
  10. Plan
  11. Admit mistakes
  12. Speak spontaneously
  13. Use direct language
  14. Communicate openly
  15. Be visible and accessible
  16. Be courageous
  17. Tell the truth
  18. Take a chance and go for it
  19. Think for yourself
  20. Treat others fairly

2. Thou shalt not

  1. Be reluctant
  2. Point out what’s wrong
  3. Be ignorant
  4. Recite dry facts
  5. Wait
  6. Go it alone
  7. Know it all
  8. Stick to the tried and true
  9. Blow up
  10. React
  11. Spin, make excuses, and pass blame
  12. Repeat the usual message
  13. Use clichés
  14. Withhold information
  15. Hide behind closed doors
  16. Be afraid to fail
  17. Obscure, obstruct, and obfuscate
  18. Play it safe and delay
  19. Always go by the book
  20. Exploit others

3. Don’t


1. Know thyself

  1. Values
  2. Principles
  3. Beliefs
  1. Passions and Interests
  2. Skills and Abilities
  3. Weaknesses and Blind Spots
  1. Studies and Career
  2. Friends and Family
  3. Communities and Pastimes

2. Maintain your true self

  1. Studies and Career
  2. Friends and Family
  3. Communities and Pastimes

3. Lead by example

4. Be bold

5. Follow your true north

6. Decide

7. Have a bias for action

  1. Achievements
  2. Results
  3. Deliverables

8. Communicate relentlessly

9. Engage

10. Tell stories

11. Be thirsty for knowledge

12. Deepen your expertise

13. Build your team

14. Manage your time

15. Focus

16. Check your ego

3P Squared

Presentation Version

Articles, Presentation, and Books about Leadership



Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/