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Leadership Skills & Styles

By Michael Mercer, Ph.D.
May 8, 2007, 12:14

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Paris Hilton represents many things to many people.
And now she inadvertently offers fantastic lessons in leadership skills.  Her crimes – DUI, breaking probation, driving without a license – and  follow-up botches offers lessons to leaders on how not to handle key  leadership problems.


Here are five lessons Paris Hilton taught all leaders.




Ms. Hilton claimed her 45 day jail sentence “punishment is cruel and unwarranted.”  In contrast, a smart leader admits mistakes and accepts the consequences.  Employees admire leaders who come right out and admit they did wrong.  Honesty in trying circumstances shows the leader is a human being who admits blunders and whose heart is in the right place.”


Leadership Lesson #2 = HIRE THE BEST


Paris claimed other people handled her mail, including legal papers concerning her convictions and punishments.  Well, Paris Hilton and every leader needs to hire assistants sharp enough to tell them when monstrously important pieces of mail arrive or read all their mail themselves.  I delve into how to hire productive, dependable employees in my third book, “Hire the Best -- & Avoid the Rest™.”  At some point, leaders should not blame other people for their major mistakes.


Leadership Lesson #3 = APOLOGIZE – & TRULY MEAN IT

“When a great leader apologizes, everyone feels the leader really means it.  In contrast, Paris Hilton seemed more concerned with wiggling out of jail than feeling heart-felt regret for her dangerous and illegal missteps.


Leadership Lesson #4 = ONLY SIGN DOCUMENTS YOU READ & AGREE With

Leaders sometimes get so caught up in their big-shot, big-picture activities that they sometimes forget some details require their total attention.  Sarbanes-Oxley has brought this truth to the fore.   Paris Hilton said she signed some legal papers without fully reading them.  Signing important papers without reading and agreeing with the contents is a leadership crime no leader ever should commit.


Leadership Lesson #5 = SHOW UP & SHOW UP ON-TIME

Paris Hilton failed to show up properly in two big instances:  She never attended alcohol education sessions required after her DUI conviction, and she arrived late to court.  True leaders absolutely must do what they must do on the schedule they need to do it.  Absolutely fabulous leaders know failure is not an option.  No one appoints a leader – or Paris Hilton – king or queen so they might think they can do whatever they want and are not required to show up and show up on-time for crucial meetings and events.


Fortunately, Paris Hilton’s unfortunate actions give fantastic leadership lessons to leaders everywhere.  At this point, it is better to learn from Paris than to be Paris.

 © Copyright 2007 Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is America’s Hire the Best Expert™. Many companies use pre-employment tests he created -- “Abilities & Behavior Forecaster™” Tests – and his “7-Step Method to Hire the Best”™. Dr. Mercer authored 5 books, including, "Absolutely Fabulous Organizational Change™", "Hire the Best -- & Avoid the Rest™" and also "Turning Your Human Resources Department into a Profit Center™."  You can (a) get a free subscription to his e-Newsletter at
or (b) call to talk with Dr. Mercer at (847) 382-0690

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