Five Best Practices of Good Leaders

By Armando Zagalo de Lima

Editor’s Note: Armando Zagalo de Lima recently won the prestigious Best International Leader Award from Portugal’s Leadership Business Consulting, so we asked him to share his thoughts on best practices of effective leaders.

“My leadership style is based on the power of communication because you cannot win alone, and you can only succeed with the contributions of the entire team.” – Armando Zagalo de Lima, president, Xerox Technology Business
“My leadership style is based on the power of communication because you cannot win alone, and you can only succeed with the contributions of the entire team.” – Armando Zagalo de Lima, president, Xerox Technology Business

I have yet to discover a simple recipe for transforming people into great leaders. But I have observed the best practices of many effective leaders, and I’m pleased to share them here. I should point out: These concepts are much easier to express than to execute.

Understand people. I agree with Joe Wilson, former Xerox president and chairman of the board, who wrote, “The head of a business works with people, and all other phases of his task pale in significance compared to this need to know human beings.”

I maintain your success is defined by your capacity to adapt to the specific individual and the circumstance in order to win her or his heart and mind. I always focus on understanding the person I have in front of me: motivations, concerns, expectations and objectives. And obviously, if you are talking with a group, you need to adapt to the specifics of the group’s culture to communicate most effectively.

Set the right goals. Xerox is a world-class organization, so we have high expectations.The magic in setting goals is finding the right balance. Goals must be aggressive enough to motivate the organization to its best performance, but realistic enough for people to believe they are achievable and not quit out of frustration. As a teenager, Great Britain’s Sally Gunnel set a goal of being an Olympic champion, trained hard for years, and at age 26 won a gold medal in the 400-meter high hurdles. Without the wanting, you never achieve anything.

Communicate clearly. My leadership style is based on the power of communication, building trust and nurturing followership. It comes from the principle that you cannot win alone, and you can only succeed with the contributions of the entire team. Consequently, it is quite fundamental to communicate clearly where the organization is, the vision of where you want to go and why, and the contribution you expect from each player. It is essential that people are very clear about what they gain when the shared vision and objectives are achieved. Once this is accomplished, leadership is about communicating progress, adjusting plans if necessary, rewarding and recognizing the key contributors, and celebrating every single victory until the vision is successfully realized

Learn from your successes and mistakes. What you bring to each role is the experience that comes from the accumulation of your successes and failures as you learn from both. In my case, these experiences occurred in a multitude of geographies, cultures, businesses and roles, which helped my development as a leader. Speaking generally, these experiences have led me to a more collaborative approach to leadership. In many—but not all—cases, the chances of achieving your objectives increase substantially when the team helps construct the solution.

Set a good example. The leader’s greatest tool is the power of example. In my career, I’ve aligned my personal values with my professional values—honesty, transparency, loyalty, fairness and hard work—and that helps set the right tone. The leader also sets the pace. If you want your followers to run, you can’t be walking. You need to run even faster than them.

Becoming a good leader is a lot like developing a good Xerox solution in that both seek the elegant simplicity that is at the core of a complex situation. These best practices can help you get there.

Armando Zagalo de Lima is president, Xerox Technology Business.

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7 Comments

  1. Stephen DuPlessis June 9, 2014 - Reply

    I like it A LOT! It is simple and it is what every good leader should be doing.

  2. Jacqueline Mitchell June 11, 2014 - Reply

    Absolutely agree, also it goes without saying, a leader should be a good listener. Really hearing people, paying attention is key!

  3. Yadira Suarez June 11, 2014 - Reply

    Great insight. Setting a good example and being coherent with your actions not only personal but also proffesional. It applies to everything in your life, more importantly and crucial when raising your kids.

  4. Jerome Adu-Gyan June 11, 2014 - Reply

    Thank you Mr. Zagalo de Lima sharing these best practices of effective leaders with us. This will be a great resourse and guide as we work to push Xerox to greater heights.

  5. Cynthia Harris June 11, 2014 - Reply

    I am a leader in training and I find these best practices very appliable to me and my peers. I plan to incorporate these practices into my toolbox.

  6. Michael June 11, 2014 - Reply

    It’s clear that someone wrote these for him. His reputation as a leader is that he has no compassion, empathy or interest in employees….. Lacking a key strength – emotional intelligence. Leaders at this level always have someone writing these ‘talking points’, white papers or books…..

    • Armando Zagalo de Lima June 13, 2014 - Reply

      Dear Michael:

      Thank you for your comment. I believe everyone has the right to an opinion—and a response. I care very deeply about our employees, and have always believed that success comes from the talent of the people you work with. As such, business leaders must communicate their vision with passion, but passion does not preclude compassion. Compassion and fairness for people weigh heavily in every decision I make, every single day — as well they should.

      –Respectfully, Armando

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