Everyday I meet people. Great people, people I admire, people I can learn from, people that do things in innovative and unexpected ways, people that do things differently than I do, people that impress me. People that are successful, people that have character, people that don´t give up, people that inspire others, people that motivate me.

And I am interested in – or even fascinated by – the dynamics of people in business life. How people interact in companies. How they communicate with each other. Whom they follow and who disappoints them. What great leaders do differently to weak CEOs. How people make companies successful or how mis-management lets companies fail.

Over the years I have had the chance to watch CEOs, entrepreneurs and employees in very small to very large companies. And with every experience I made, every corporate culture I met or every interaction I had it became clear to me how I would lead a business and especially people, if I had the chance. And what I would try to avoid.

Since September 2010 I have the chance. And after one year at Young Internet I would like to share with you my personal guidelines for being a good leader. Not because I think you don´t have guidelines of your own. Not because I think I would be the person you have been waiting for to tell you. And definitely not because I think that this is the only possible way to do it.

It simply is my way of doing it. And for me it works.

What makes me very confident about these guidelines is that I didn´t come up with them theoretically and then tried them out in real life. It was the other way around. I intuitively tried them out and they worked. That´s why I have now written them down to inspire others and share my experiences.

So here we go:

1. Care about people

  • Show real interest in your employees
  • Have regular feedback talks with everybody
  • Treat others like you want to be treated yourself

2. Be transparent

  • Communicate openly and mean what you say
  • Be yourself in social networks and not somebody you would like to be
  • Show weaknesses – that´s human
  • Admit mistakes – nobody is perfect
  • Don´t try to play a role – be yourself (people will find out anyway)

3. Focus

  • Define a clear strategy, goals and milestones
  • Have a stop-doing list
  • Have real company USPs – don´t be average

4. Take decisions – and execute

  • Take risks
  • Be reliable – and stick to your decisions
  • Fight for your beliefs
  • Analytics + gut feeling = best of both worlds

5. Hire people that are better than you – self-explanatory

6. Avoid attitude – don´t think you´re special

  • Treat people with respect – no matter who they are
  • Be modest and humble
  • Do the „stupid“ things
  • Be polite – to everybody

7. “Walk around the pond” – at least once a week

  • Have the big picture – at all times
  • Have a vision
  • Have a mission
  • Define corporate values – and stick to them
  • Work strategically – don´t get stuck in micromanagement
  • Trust your people

Do I live up to these guidelines all the time? I seriously try to. And if I don´t, I am the first to notice.

Why didn´t I put things like „motivate“, „inspire“ and „create team spirit“ which are extremely important leadership qualities? Because I think that they are the result of everything I listed. I truly believe that following these guidelines leads to being motivating and inspiring. And to creating a great team spirit.

This should be the ultimate goal for every good leader.


  • Swizzl sagt:

    A great post. Much to learn from it!
    I'm looking forward to meeting You at hte ADVANCE Conference 🙂

  • Lars Christiansen sagt:

    Hi Verena,

    I'm missing a few points, which became relevant for me in the past 2 years. If you allow me so, I'd like to ammend a few new perspectives, which I'm sure you are using in your coaching work, too.
    You are basically stating "be reliable, stay on the ground, be nice and have a goal".

    Leaders who want to grow leaders have to learn:
    – alocate power and responsibilties
    – never overrule and stay patient
    – of course lead with good example (matching your focus)
    – let them make mistakes
    – provide an environment which is ensuring hold and cover for them, so mistakes do not turn into serious chaos or burning the ground. Decide about situations and when let them escalate, as it needs to hurt sometimes to understand. Watch and support them getting back on track
    – support them reflecting the mistakes without blaming them in order to avoid risking the trust
    – provide an environment which is supporting the learn process …

    Reason for this: You don't get it when reading about it, you have to experience it.

    Kind regards, Lars

    • Verena sagt:

      Thanks, Lars! Very good comments and definitely a great extension to my list. You are especially right with the point "allocate power and responsibilities" as a leader should never become a bottleneck and it is most encouraging and motivating for everybody if he is truly responsible of the topics he drives and doesn´t get overruled every time he or she takes a decision.

  • Ijad sagt:

    Very good article!

  • Konstantin sagt:

    Really clear & comprehensive guidelines for being a good leader and also just for being a good person in general.

  • Tanja Gabler sagt:

    It interesting to see that most of the points above can not only guide to a good leadership – but also to a good life. And that's because both our professional as our private life are defined by the relations to the people that sourround us – and who we surround us with!

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