The Leadership Freak Code of Leadership

Leaders without a code follow the course of least resistance. Life becomes unstable, stressful, and frustrating.

Leaders without guiding principles are undependable followers.

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Your leadership code is the foundation of decision making.

Guiding principles enable leaders to take the long-term perspective. Apart from guiding principles, the course of least resistance or quick results is the obvious choice.

The code: Treat people like volunteers.

The first thing that came to mind when I thought about my personal code of leadership was something Peter Drucker said.

“Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.”

Paychecks aren’t permission to treat people like slaves. Demanding obedience is despotism, not leadership.

10 ways to treat employees like volunteers:

  1. Honor the person over what they accomplish. People aren’t tools.
  2. Receive permission to hold people accountable. Define accountability with employees, not for employees.
  3. Allow others to hold you accountable. Holding people accountable is a two way street when employees are volunteers.
  4. Acknowledge that excellence is a matter of personal character not coercion.
  5. Show gratitude for hard work. Forget about their paycheck if it makes you ungrateful.
  6. Remember fulfilment matters. Volunteers look for meaningful contribution. Explain purpose and mission over and over.
  7. Protect teams from deadweight. Make work easy by eliminating unnecessary baggage, laggards, and bureaucracy.
  8. Act with respect at all times, especially during tough conversations.
  9. Connect more.
  10. Recognize passion.

Bonus: Serve them while they serve the organization.


The way you view others transforms the way you treat them.

Leadership attitudes change when employees are viewed as volunteers. Perhaps the most important change is from arrogance to humility.

The way you view others transforms the way you lead.

What’s an important component of your leadership code?

How can leaders shift to treating employees like volunteers?