For the book, "The Practice of Leadership," Jay Conger and I asked more than a dozen top leadership scholars, experts in specific aspects of leadership, to review research and provide a few simple guides for best leadership practices. This is what they came up with:

How to select good leaders.

Put time and resources into leader selection and assessment. Don't rely on one single method, such as an interview, to evaluate leadership potential. Focus on the leadership outcomes you want and those that are a good fit with your organization, and measure those in potential leaders. (from Ann Howard)

How to evaluate leader performance.

Evaluation of leaders' performance needs to be an ongoing practice of continuous improvement, rather than a once-a-year event. Consider using a "balanced scorecard" to help align leader performance with team and organizational goals. (from Manny London and colleagues)

How to develop leaders.

Provide challenging learning experiences and problem-solving activities for leaders. Concentrate greater efforts on those identified as having high potential. Look to mentoring and executive coaches who can help leaders learn from their experiences. (from leadership development experts Patricia O'Connor, David Day, Morgan McCall and George Hollenbeck)

How to use influence to lead teams.

Inspire team members with a compelling vision and ensure that the vision is consistent with team members' ideals and values. Use consultation and collaboration strategies to get team members committed to goals. (from Gary Yukl)

How to lead creative teams.

Use a sense of mission and common purpose to encourage team members to be innovative. Consider using creativity training for your team. Keep up with relevant knowledge to help lead the creative process (from Mike Mumford and colleagues)

How to lead ethically.

Work to create a positive ethical climate. Develop methods to evaluate situations from an ethical perspective. Set an ethical example and encourage ethical behaviors in others. (from Craig Johnson)

How to develop highly functioning teams

Define team members' respective roles and foster successful interdependence among team members [don't let teams develop on their own]. Define goals and measure outcomes; reward and celebrate accomplishments. Provide inspiration, motivation and general direction for the team. Use coaching to help teams coordinate and to facilitate performance (from Ed Salas and colleagues)

More lessons will follow in another post...

Jay A. Conger & Ronald E. Riggio (Eds.) (2007). The Practice of Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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