Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Leaders Who Follow Rules

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Leaders who follow rules have subordinates who do – Guest post by Jack Meyer

Great leadership skills are those that are developed over time. Although textbooks and classes can help you improve the kind of leader you want to be, it takes real-life practice and implementation to make you great. A successful leader has the trust of those under him or her and is supported by those subordinates. Without the respect of those who follow you, there will never be real greatness to your leadership. Developing that trust can take time, but once it’s developed there is nothing the whole cannot accomplish.

1. The Boss – Many people will have an attitude that they can do whatever they want because they are the boss. Although it may be true, it doesn’t mean that it’s the most productive way to act. Resentment among your subordinates can cause dissension within the ranks and can cause irreparable damage to the unit.

2. Realistic – Rules and guidelines need to be realistic for your subordinates. You don’t want to set them up to fail, but you don’t want to be too lax either. You’ll need to establish a firm set of rules without making the task too difficult to follow. Being hard on your subordinates doesn’t always work out for the best. However, you don’t want to be too lenient on what is expected of your team.

3. Respectful – Being respectful to your subordinates is an easy way to have respect reciprocated. Fear-mongering and power abuse don’t earn respect…they create fear. Many individuals will confuse one for the other, and it could create a hostile environment. Respect is earned from being a leader, not given from leading the unit. If you respect the boundaries of those under you, they will respect yours in kind.

4. Bending the Rules – Sometimes, being the leader has its advantages of being able to bend the rules to fit a certain circumstance. Although bending the rules can potentially improve the productivity of the unit in those circumstances, you don’t want to bend them too often. If a leader is seen as bending the rules on a regular basis, the subordinates will begin to do it as well. If everyone is bending the rules, then it begins to create chaos within the environment.

5. Set in Stone – Rules don’t have to be set in stone. Periodically, a revamp of the rules may be necessary to encompass technologies, living environments, and anything else that can cause contradictions within them. If more organizations took a yearly look at their rules for conduct, many issues could be avoided. One suggestion is letting the subordinates assist in create the new revamp of the rules. It gives them a sense of empowerment and shows that you trust their judgment. However, don’t give them too long of a leash. Let them assist you, but don’t let them do it for you.

6. Passing Responsibilities – Assigning a protégé to act as your team leader could help you keep order among your subordinates. If your organization is larger than five or six people, having a buffer may help keep the team focused. Like you, your team leader needs to be an example. You’ll need to have someone who can follow the rules and enforce them just as you would.

A true leader will guide subordinates by example. Following your own rules can set the tone of how your subordinates view you. They are more likely to follow the rules if they see that their leader has done so. Act as how you’d like your subordinates to act and a well-organized team can develop.

Jack Meyer is a freelance writer and regular contributor at www.nannybackgroundcheck.com/. He has a passion for various subjects like education, career and technology, Parenting etc.  If you have any questions email Jack at jackmeyers08 [at] gmail.com


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers play a key role in forming productive teams. Lead out in being realistic and respectful to your team members, and they will happily follow.

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One thought on “Leaders Who Follow Rules

  1. Thoughtful overview of the topic. A rules based culture rather than a principles based culture provides a context for using rules in one’s favor.

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