The Five Declarations of Leadership


Cowardly leaders love hiding in the dark. But, the best we can do is stumble when the lights are out.

Declarations shine light in darkness.

The five light-giving declarations of leadership:

  1. Declare yourself. Stop hiding, pretending, and losing yourself. People need to know who you are and what you are about. You are a light.
  2. Declare intentions. Explain intentions behind actions. Help people interpret you and understand what you’re after.
  3. Declare what you see. You don’t have to declare first but you must declare sometime. Perhaps it’s better to listen before you declare. But, declaring what you see establishes priorities, prevents posturing, clears clutter, honors success, and confronts failure.
  4. Declare questions, especially if they seem dumb, basic, or obvious.
  5. Declare what’s important.


  1. Define.
  2. Disturb.
  3. Disrupt.
  4. Describe
  5. Direct.

The five declarations of leadership enable effective decisions.

Dare to decide:

Indecisive leaders dampen enthusiasm, discourage effort, and derail progress.

  1. Decide people-decisions are the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Compared to people-decisions, strategy, projects, and systems are easy.
  2. Decide to depend on others and delight in their progress.
  3. Decide to surround yourself with talent. Aspire to grow dumber and dumber compared to others at the table.
  4. Decide to release those closest to the work to make most decisions. Negotiate decision-making power. Determine who should decide and hold everyone to it, including you.

Five tips for making great people decisions:

  1. Own poor people decisions. Underperformers are your responsibility. You put someone in the wrong role. It’s not their fault, it’s yours. Stop blaming.
  2. Start slow. Test fit, skills, character, determination, and commitment on small projects. Don’t bet the farm on an unknown.
  3. Focus on character, capacity, and drive, without these, skill and talent don’t matter.
  4. Ask, “What would you do?” Explore how they think. Don’t be blinded by what they do.
  5. Reject know-it-alls. Learners excel. Humble is better than arrogant.

Check out the great list of leadership D’s on the Leadership Freak Facebook Page. While you’re there, add leadership E’s for tomorrow’s post.

The two D’s I chose are “declare” and “decide.” What other “D” words are important to leadership?

How can leaders make effective people-decisions?

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