CARDINAL RULES: Nine Essential Leadership Practices

The New Normal has spawned unprecedented leadership challenges for strategy, focus, speed, and engagement. Meeting these challenges requires advances in leadership practices.


The GEO Cardinal Rules™: Nine Essential Leadership Practices

What leadership practices are most effective in the New Normal? The GEO Cardinal Rules™ are the critical core — nine essential leadership practices for sustaining success. These are derived from first-hand experience working with exceptional leaders in the Fortune 500, mid-sized firms, and non-profits.

While these practices align with the timeless fundamentals of good leadership, they also represent advances demanded by the ‘perfect storm’ of VUCA  Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity.  Because no one has all the answers all the time in a world of VUCA, an evolution is occurring.

Effective leadership has become a collaborative process informed by the Collective Intelligence of the stakeholders. It is being de-centralized,  spread across organizational levels and action networks.

Here are the “New Normal Nine”:

  1. Think Together
  2. Decide Dynamically
  3. Expedite Execution
  4. Unlock Trust
  5. Connect Consciously
  6. Cultivate Culture
  7. Leverage Technology
  8. Learn Relentlessly
  9. Master Mindfulness

None of the leadership practices are stand-alone “silver bullet” solutions. They are an integrated whole. Together, they offer a proven approach to achieve smart solutions and superior results.

Below are brief descriptions of each Cardinal Rule. The text is hyperlinked to a Knowledge Byte™ that explains the what, why, and how of that Cardinal Rule. Many of the Rules also have links to other related articles and videos.  More are being added more each week, so stay tuned!


GEO Cardinal Rules: Nine Essential Leadership Practices for Thriving in the New Normal

Cardinal Rule #1 is THINK TOGETHER. The purpose is to achieve smarter strategic thinking and energized engagement by tapping Collective Intelligence. Collective Intelligence is the result of LISTENING to and SYNTHESIZING a broad spectrum of ideas, views, and opinions to address a complex challenge. It delivers deeper insights and smarter solutions than an individual or an elite few could produce. 

Cardinal Rule #2 is DECIDE DYNAMICALLY.  The purpose is to avoid the greatest leadership danger: mental inertia when your environment is changing, often rapidly and unpredictably. Not shifting your perspective and thinking differently when new circumstances arrive is a recipe for decision disasters.

Cardinal Rule #3 is EXPEDITE EXECUTION. The purpose is to meet the biggest challenge for leadership in the New Normal: Time Compression. What used to take months and years, now occurs in days and hours. How fast do you need to execute? The answer is simple: faster than the rate of change. As Jack Welch, former chairman of GE, observed, “If the rate of change inside an organization is less than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight.”

Cardinal Rule #4 is UNLOCK TRUST. The purpose is to foster success generating behaviors — creativity, collaboration, and alignment. The reason for this is well-documented. High trust organizations vastly outperform low trust ones. Given the ROI benefits, TRUST IS A MUST. 

Cardinal Rule #5 is CONNECT CONSCIOUSLY. The purpose is to be a more effective leader by amplifying your awareness of and responsiveness to others. When you are truly interested in others, you can connect more consciously. You can best serve your purpose by staying connected to who YOU really are and leading from your core.

Cardinal Rule #6 is CULTIVATE CULTURE. The purpose is to ensure that your culture is aligned with your strategy because this is a leading indicator of sustainable performance improvement. Cultivate Culture focuses on embedding the right mental norms —  mindsets, values, and assumptions —  about how to behave and how to run your organization. Culture change always begins at the top. 

Cardinal Rule #7 is LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY. The purpose is to augment human intelligence and automate human tasks to truly do more with less. This leadership practice is about transforming how we communicate, collaborate, innovate, and educate. Technology properly applied not only saves time and increases efficiency, it can also enable deeper insights and greater transparency.

Cardinal Rule #8 is LEARN RELENTLESSLY. The purpose is to avoid the costs of falling behind by continuously growing your competence and confidence. The key is an unceasing exploration of the world around you and a targeted expansion of what you know and what you can do. “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”~ Eric Hoffer 

Cardinal Rule #9 is MASTER MINDFULNESS. The purpose is to enhance your leadership capacity and personal well-being. Mindfulness means maintaining a state of active, open attention on the present. A wealth of new research has confirmed its many benefits.

If you’d like to learn more about the Cardinal Rules, Let’s Connect.


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© 2001-2018 Leland Russell | All Rights Reserved

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About Leland Russell

Leland Russell accelerates strategic action with GEO Leadership™ principles, processes, and virtual tools. He is the creator of The GEO Paradigm™ and co-author of Winning In FastTime®. GEO Group Strategic Services, the firm he founded, has a stellar performance track record with Fortune 500 organizations, mid-size firms, and non-profits. Leland writes regularly about how leaders can thrive in the New Normal on his website —

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