You arrive 10 minutes late to the 4 o’clock meeting and sit at the head of the table or stand at the podium. You launch into an expression of your views on the agenda subjects. You refer to policies and practices you exhort everyone to follow.

You purposely avoid any indication things are going well because that only encourages people to expect bonuses. You thank everyone tersely, ask if they have any questions, and then leave the room. You worked hard to get to your leadership position, and are proud of how smoothly the meeting went.

Leadership? That is not leadership.

Why have a meeting? There are only two reasons: 1) congratulate or compliment others, or 2) listen to others. Either announce public praise or learn from all those people you hired to do their best. You speak last about what you’ve learned and not about you.

In my advice to CEOs based on my 37 years as a CEO and a Marine Corps officer before that, they, not you, come first. And you mean it; demonstrate it. You do not wait, half listen, then take the stage and announce your conclusions and directions.

Be vigilant. You agree with the universal truth of praise in public and criticize in private. But there are other truths. Listen. You are supposed to be the smartest one in the room. But you are not. You are the lucky leader.

Get to the meeting early. Do not sit at the head of the table or stand at the podium. Encourage candor. Find ways to express your empathy. You need them more than they need you. Yes. Let that sink in. In attitude, you work for them.

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