28 Words Every Leader Needs to Thrive
Author Bill Treasurer is giving away five signed copies of his new book, “Leadership Two Words at a Time.” Just leave a comment on today’s post to become eligible.
Winners must be residents of the continental U.S. Deadline for eligibility is 10/8/2022.
Success in leadership is a three-legged stool. When you fail in one area, you fail. My friend, Bill Treasurer, says the three legs of leadership are:
- Leading yourself.
- Leading people.
- Leading business.
You can succeed in one area of leadership and still fail.
You might get things done but if you can’t lead yourself, failure is around the corner. You might be great with people but if you lack courage to deal with tough issues, you’re doomed. Everyone might love you but if you can’t deliver results, you’re ruined.
28 words leaders need to thrive:
Bill’s book, “Leadership Two Words at a Time: Simple Truths for Leading Complicated People,” captures the core of leadership in 14 two-word principles.
Leading yourself principles:
#1. Know Thyself
Transform your leadership with self-awareness.
#2. Model Principles
Live the values you want others to live by.
#3. Aspire Higher
Continually lift people, performance, and profits.
#4. Gain Control
Be better for everyone through self-mastery.
#5. Practice Humility
Prevent hubris by keeping your ego in check.
#6. Cultivate Composure
Purify your motives with daily reflection.
Leading people principles:
#7. Trust First
Build trust by first being trustworthy.
#8. Create Safety
Promote courage with psychological safety.
#9 Nurture Talent
Develop people so they can add more value.
#10. Promote Inclusion
Create a just, fair, and equitable workplace.
Leading business principles:
#11. Love Business
Keep learning and you’ll enjoy the adventure!
#12. Get Results
In my house we say, “Get’er did.”
#13. Master Management
Apply fundamentals to have more impact.
#14. Lead Up
Succeed by supporting your boss’s success.
Two more words:
Bill’s book begins with, “Be courageous.” Maya Angelou said, “Courage is the most important virtue.”
I chatted with Bill about some of the two-word principles in his book. Here’s the video:
Which two-word principles do you find most relevant today?
Connect with Bill Treasurer:
What a great reminder to focus on self, people, and business. We often see encouragement to address one of those aspects of leadership but not necessarily all three. Here is a comment for you that incorporates a two-word principle: “Pick me!” I want the book! 🙂
It’s hard to pick just one that I find most relevant today. I’ll go with “Nurture Talent.” I am excited about an “Emerging Leaders” program we are piloting at the nonprofit where I serve as executive director.
Get Results & Aspire Higher-excellent reminders of what needs to happen to be successful! Me! Me!
I love the chair illustration as a healthy reminder to be a balanced leader. It’s an illustration to remind us as we sit and feel the annoying imbalance of the chair rocking, to stop and focus on the area that we need to elevate to work on our leadership. Whether it’s ourselves, others or the tasks at hand.
Sound advice. In today’s work culture, the employee has a lot of the negotiating power. A two word principle I believe pays dividends is ‘servant leadership.’ When our people are cared for, empowered, informed, and provided the resources they need to do their jobs, we as leaders reap the reward of seeing them succeed. If we don’t focus on our people, we won’t have anyone who’s willing to be led.
I’m surrounded by a bunch of one legged stools.
Many of the 28 are about dealing with self, not leading others.
I’m a newer subscriber. I enjoy your weekly blog posts – thank you. Trust First – the associates that we lead must believe that we’re looking out for their best interest. Without trust – leadership is challenged at best.
#Love Business – I have recently set up a new business concentrating on executive search in the not-for-profit sector. I am nearing the time when I can employ some staff and I want to make sure that I am the best leader possible going forward.
I like the challenging 2 word principle you’ve shared in the past: Be Yourself
In the work I have done around belonging and dignity I have had so many
“ah-ha” moments about how critical leading yourself is – in fact, I think it is the change maker. Deep self reflection allows you to see internally and externally what needs to change. It also fosters humility in yourself and grace for others.
Our principal passed your article along to us (teacher-leaders) in the building. This statement resonated with me “You might be great with people but if you lack courage to deal with tough issues, you’re doomed.” As a teacher, I also identify with #9 – Nuture Talent. I appreciate your insights!
Such vital wisdom on leadership made so simple by applying two words to three major principle categories. I must share this with my staff!
Wonderful reminder of what it takes to be a good leader! I just completed staffing a Wood Badge course for my Scout Council. Many of these principals are included in the curriculum.
Love the 2 word phrases under each of the categories! I need a poster with icons as a reminder! Thanks for sharing.
Great reminders in this post. We are in a leadership transition at my organization specifically because the outgoing leader was missing one of the three legs. Thank you for sharing your conversation.
Funny how simple phrases encapsulate great wisdom. Thanks for sharing!
Daily Victories 🙂
This Builds on K.I.S.S., keep it simple and sincere.
So true. Great read. Looking forward to the book:) A fail is a fail no matter perception of significance to the program as a whole. Even a small fail matters, but what’s great is, that is not something negative. It is an opportunity and potential for growth, continuous improvement, etc. All part of the journey and you are on the right track. Love the 3 legs too. That should be the exact order also, as it starts with you! This is as usual another awesome leadership article! Thank you to Dan, this author and all others who are using your careers and lives to help the rest of understand true leadership and achieve success on a daily basis!
A great friend of mine (Frank Viscuso) teaches: “A leader of one can be a leader of many, but if you can’t lead one, you won’t lead any.”
Simply be humane and treat people like they matter always.
I love this! Succinct principles to remember and help every leader improve in leadership. The comments to the post are insightful too. All are relevant for today to build and maintain the three cores of a successful leader. To choose one: love business because lifelong learners continue to grow and improve. Thanks for sharing!
Love this post! An image and words to live by. I post my favorite blog posts on the whiteboard next to my desk. I am adding this post to my other favorites: % Ways to Matter More in the World and Conversation Starters that Enable Conflict Resolution. Keep up the great work!
Love the one about developing people. So many times we are fearful of helping others develop as it can be seen as a “threat”
Seeing this list is a great reminder of what we should be willing to do each day!
Can’t wait to read your book
I sometimes adapt a lesson from these daily messages into a bible study. This one fits perfectly since it is in a format that is easy to remember. Thanks for sharing.
Great leaders focus on building trust, caring for their staff as people, and driving towards excellence. I look forward to reading this book.
Bill’s book looks like a treasure trove of leadership wisdom and guidance delivered in two-word essentials! I’d love to read a copy. All the best.
The best lessons are the simple lessons. The two-word approach provides profound lessons that are easy to digest. Such as when Jesus said, “Follow me.”
I like the simplicity of it! The two word structure will make it easier to retain the info and actually create habits. For me, the most relevant one for today would be ‘lead up’.
I like the format of how he laid most important leadership traits as sets of two words. Lead yourself, lead people and lead business is the unseperable legs of the success stool
Love the 3 legs to the stool comparison…you have to be aware of yourself, your people, and your business through every action that you take. A great blog like always, thank you for sharing!
I loved the beginning analogy of a 3 legged stool. It is so easy to become blinded with a silo mentality towards a single focus. My personal stool begins to wobble when I am misaligned and has toppled a few times in my career through immature failure to recognize “all legs” were not receive the appropriate, needed attention for overall success.
Great post….most of these are simple but not easy. I’ve come to believe that is a mark of wisdom when it is fairly obvious but somehow very difficult.
great post with good reminders!!
Ultimately know thyself is the starting point. If you remain in touch with your own self you can always focus on your weak points and maximize your strengths. You can also master your interactions with others as you learn about them and match their weaknesses and strengths to yours and others.
A really great read this morning. For me, it all begins with the first foundational principle of Know Thyself. That unlock and journey can create the pathways for many of the other principles that follow. Thank you for such a concise and thoughtful share. Always appreciated.
Trust First . . . needed and works on so many levels. Amazing how many times people are all about trust talk but do not Model Principles or Create Safety for trust to grow. As a teacher leader and instructional coach, trust is a must — without it, teachers do not grow and our students suffer that consequence.
To me the most significant difference between good and great leaders is the first bullet point.. Lead self. The best leaders I have worked with had strong self awareness and because of this placed more trust in others. The worst leaders had no self awareness and thought they knew everything and placed little trust in others. The arrogance is markedly difference between these as well.
Great reminder – much needed today!!
Simple wisdom is always the best. Great thoughts!
Balance, something often in short supply today, and the inclusion of self is important in that. Trust first and love business resonated with me this morning. If there isn’t trust, nothing of value can get done, and if you don’t love business and the challenges with it, days would be spent in misery.
Wisdom, for sure. We all need to start with ourselves! Thank you for the reminder!
Another two words – Be Sincere- everyone knows when you’re faking.
Going to work on Gain Control the rest of this week. When things seem to be going wrong all around, it can be difficult to avoid crumbling internally and have that spill out to those around.
“You can succeed in one area of leadership and still fail.”
“You might get things done but if you can’t lead yourself, failure is around the corner.” These two sentences hit the nail on the head for me. Leading myself, is a hard one for me.
#7. Trust First-oooohhhh this one is hard for me… My default is not that 🙂 Definitely something to work on.
Took the time to watch the video conversation and don’t regret it! I’ll be passing it along to my young adult kids. Thanks
Trust and safety without these two, nothing else works no matter how hard one may perceive they are working to create success for themselves, for others, and for the organization. “Book, please!” are my two words for Bill. And, of course, “thank you!”
I love the simplicity of the two-word statements! There is profound meaning in those straightforward statements.
This blends well with your recent post on arrogance on humility. Always great reminders to continually look inward, look outward, and always be kind.
Two of these really stand out to me: Model Principles, & Aspire Higher.
As leaders we must demonstarate the behaviour that we want to see. This is the foundation of the culture for our Team/Business. Additionally, we have the opportunity and responsibility to pour into those who have either been entrusted to us or have joined with us to fulfill the vision. Encouraging people and celebrating success is important, but so is instruction when done in a compassionate way to eleveate performance. Demonstrate that you are commited to personal growth and their growth. When you are functioning as your best you, and your people are confident in your leadership, it is much easier to realise the profit.
Two words with so much depth! Tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Number 9 resonated with me – Nurture Talent.
I am new to leading and totally enjoy reading the blogs. Hoping i can one day be an awesome leader like you. for now, i know i have lots to learn to lead
Love learning! i have lots to learn, this is a great opportunity
I will use this in my Org Leadership MA! Cheers!
Thinking about the Leadership Leg “leading Yourself”;
“Be water”~Bruce Lee. He said “Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water.” Mr. Lee believed that, with this mindset, one can attain a heightened awareness, a neutral state of free judgement, ready to react to anything.
“Knowing others is intelligence;
Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.” ~Lao-Tzu
I love the 3 legged stool and find this to be so true in my work. It also seems like the amount of focus on each of the legs varies at different points in my career, but it’s when I forget about one of them that things start to fall apart. I’m excited to read more about the two-word phrases and how I could focus on these in my daily work – they were all powerful – “trust first” really resonated for me. So often if we focus too much on the “work” we miss bringing folks along and making the work easier for all.
After reading the article and watching the interview I was able to reflect that though I have been in a place of leadership for more than a few years I am still a novice to the practices of being a great leader. I would love this book to help me grow and better serve my team and business.
I heard Bill speak on a webinar about this book. He challenged us to come up with her own towards for our leader ship style. Mine are loved completely.
What’s resonating with me today is simply “Practice humility.” So much of leadership is simply about the posture of humility. That goes a long way with colleagues and employees.
Great reminder to all of us that leadership is about others. “It’s not about you.”
Sounds fascinating! I took a course from Bill a while back and enjoyed it very much. Looking forward to the book.
Very insightful discussion today! I’d love to learn more about the three legs. I think that a leader must be kind but also make sure the right things are getting accomplished at the right time. Let people do the good work you know they can do, but make sure your goals are being accomplished by following your mission and principles.
Listen more, talk less, ponder more, be inquisitive. Two words can be powerful. Make them the right two words.
I like the three-legged approach to viewing leadership – it helped me understand why my “leadership stool” is sometimes a bit wobbly. Seeing them represented as fundamental pillars that leadership is built on is a great way to identify areas for improvement, especially with a guide for each leg of the stool. Thank you.
Love the idea of something for new leaders!
I give every word a resounding yes!!!
I think the two words that are the most important in my business are “Create Safety”. If you create an environment where people feel safe sharing new ideas and constructively critiquing others it will fill the room with conversation and foster outside the box thinking. It should also curb group think. In doing so you will also nurture some of the principles we need ourselves to be good leaders.
What GREAT words of wisdom to learn from. I would love to read this book!
To lead yourself, you need to know yourself.
What I love about a lot of these is that it requires introspection and for us to be self-aware of how we lead.
#8 struck me! Promote courage with psychological safety. Wow! Just allowing people to feel safe when they express ideas and opinions is HUGE! This is an essential leadership quality.
Here is one that matters to me — “Be Present”
I really liked “Build trust by first being trustworthy.” Hope I win a book.
Excited to check this book out!
Be Courageous, easily said, difficult to do day in and day out!
Two other words that have been helpful during the pandemic and beyond – respect and grace!
Create Safety resonates as this is so important in the workplace today. Employees need to know that they can express themselves and be safe in doing so in the workplace. Creating safety enhances the employee experience.
Great post, Dan.
My add: Live Integrity – DWYSYWD (do what you say you will do). Integrity is proven in the small things, like being there on time all the time. Keep your word long after the circumstances change under which we gave it. By DWYSYWD, you honor others and create team.
I find it interesting and meaningful that “Leading Yourself” has 2 more entries than the other 2 categories. It seems to be a foundational leg for the other 2 to be done well. Perhaps a good place to start.
Great article again! ‘Promote Inclusion’ really stood out to me as this is a present focus for myself and my team. Promoting inclusion can lead to safety and continued trust building. I had a rich conversation with my team yesterday on the topic and inclusion is built on acknowledging our diversities – those we are born with and those we acquire over time. Think of the powerful ideas that can come from a room of people who stand on that!
For one not in direct leadership of others – I can apply “Lead Up” nonetheless – to recognize the practice of using words of agreement and support for achieving the goals my boss is responsible for…they are naturally my goals too – so I positively take ownership of them. Additionally, I can “Nurture Talent” in my communications to field staff in their work (customer service) by positively recognizing the daily / weekly positive contributions they make. I am encouraged to take greater hold of these two leadership principles!
Leading yourself…that’s the key! And…it’s what you can most easily control. Interesting that it is not the focus of more leaders.
Book Please 😉
I am going to share this with my Director! He speaks often about humility in the work place, and leads by example. I can really see how this fits in to leading oneself first!
In a world that deluges us with information, data, and words, it is great to have short list that can guide you through leadership! Gentle nudges towards being a better colleague and leader.
As a Graduate School instructor for aspiring educational leaders, I cant wait to share Bill’s 28 words with my classes. I especially appreciate his thoughts on Humility. New leaders are often so eager to prove themselves and be recognized for their accomplishments that they often neglect to recognize the ones who aided in their success. As mentioned in another comment-I would add Integrity. If you sacrifice your integrity for any reason, you may never regain the trust needed to be a real leader. I look forward to reading the entire book. Thanks for sharing, Dan!
Excellent. Bite size. Satisfying and fulfilling.
“Know Thyself” – This principle is what I am continuously working on. In order for me to lead others, I must first know who I am.