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Leadership Hacks: Tips and Tools for being a great leader

Taking life hacking to the next level, this listicle explores 18 ways to leadership hack.



Life hacking’s long been a thing – but today’s connected, communicating, collaborating workplace opens up far more interesting possibilities than turning glass jars into bijou desk organisers. How about some leadership hacking for a change?

Try these 18 tips for starters.


  1. Let someone else be the hero.

Ronald Regan apparently once said, “There is no limit to what we can achieve … if we let someone else take credit.” We’re not suggesting you run for President, but the principle works.

  1. Be the bearer of good news.

“You know Mike in Finance? He was telling me what a great job you did on…” It doesn’t take many honest pass-arounds to make your people feel like a million bucks. This life hack sees you as a real glass-half-full person.

  1. Treat a fail as a win.

Everyone makes mistakes. If they provide useful learnings, why not treat them like successes? Sharing “teachable moments” adds empathy and humanity to the team. Especially if you made them.

  1. Never put off hard talk.

If something serious happens – a blazing argument, refusals, even abuse – don’t wait for formal channels to escalate; get the participants together immediately and talk it over. Today’s tech makes it easy.

  1. Find the story in every project.

Narratives – stories – play a deep role in our ability to understand questions beginning with why. Instead of command and control, tell tales (not tall ones) about how each project will play out, so the “characters” have a sense of what’s to come.

  1. Look for the nudge, not the nasty.

Managing isn’t about control or hierarchy; it’s about effective persuasion. Are there any small actions you could take that lead to big results? Keep a list of the little things each team player likes or enjoys, then look for opportunities to make them happen. More results at less effort.

  1. Take someone out of the meeting.

Instead of wondering “Who should be in this roundtable”, ask “Who should I leave out?” Meetings are more productive the more people you can keep out of them who shouldn’t be there.

  1. End mission creep in meetings.

How many meetings end with “Oh, just one more thing…?” End meetings when you’ve covered the agenda – don’t let them run on. This leadership hack will save you hours each week.

  1. Ask for outcomes, not methods.

There’s power in asking trusted subordinates to make a plan to get something done…without you. It communicates your trust and confidence. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

  1. Take the blame for stuff you didn’t do.

It’s too easy to blame people. Even when your employees get it wrong, take responsibility yourself. They’ll feel grateful and protected, while you get to ponder how you can stop it happening next time.

  1. Recognise mental illness for what it is… an illness.

A serious work hack, this. 1 in 4 people will suffer from mental illness at some point. When it happens to someone on your team, talk about it as the medical condition it is, like a broken ankle or the ‘flu – not something creepy. The affected worker will be grateful.

  1. Practice visualisation with your team.

Success stems from a clear picture. At the start of a project, lead your team in imagining themselves at a successful close. Don’t know what success looks like? Then rethink your project.

  1. Make time for “deep work”

Even in a connected world, Cal Newport’s new book demonstrates the importance of having hours-long periods of uninterrupted concentration in most days. When leadership hacking, don’t mistake being “busy” with being “productive.”

  1. Set specific times for collaboration stuff.

Collaboration can happen anytime, but you might be more productive if you specify a window – perhaps 10-12 and 3-4pm to get all your meetings and conferences done? You can even adopt it as company policy.

  1. Address dissatisfaction if you can’t get none.

Worker dissatisfaction is a productivity killer. After any particularly difficult or dreary spell (we all have them) take pains to thank and congratulate the people who came through. They’ll feel you’re on their side, rather than polish their CVs.

  1. Build support before proposing tasks.

Assigning tasks gets a lot easier if you know who’s up for doing them. Always engage key people before the big brief, and show what’s in it for them.

  1. Stop multitasking.

Very few people can keep their minds on more than one task at the same time. So stop firefighting! Life hack your tasks into series, not parallel.

  1. Stop reading listicles!

Social media is fun, but don’t get too social. The best communication and collaboration happens in tight-knit teams you work with, not millions of faceless people across the internet. That’s why we think 18 leadership hacks are enough for one day.


  • Life hacks are for the home, but leadership hacks are for the office
  • Communication and collaboration software let you apply leadership hacks
  • Good teamwork involves everyone knowing where they stand, ahead of time
  • Appreciation, trust, confidence: they’re all forms of communication!

Start taking the lead and empower your team, download The connected business: Generating a collaborative culture, how to build innovation in your enterprise today.



About the author

Helen Lancaster, has a career spanning 18 years in the IT and Telco sectors spending time at Canadian giant Nortel Networks, US manufacturer Avaya and UK Telco Kcom. Her roles over the years have included various commercial positions in sales and marketing - including four years in Madrid in Spain - leading to her current position of Head of Marketing for Northern Europe at Arkadin. Helen has a passion for data, and all things digital.

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