It doesn’t matter if you’re a corporate officer or an entrepreneur with a small start-up, it always helps to hone your leadership skills. (Submitted photo)

It doesn’t matter if you’re a corporate officer or an entrepreneur with a small start-up, it always helps to hone your leadership skills.
So to help give our readers an edge, Lehigh Valley Business talked to Anne Corley Baum, president at the Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Capital Blue Cross health insurance company, and author of the “Small Mistakes, Big Consequences” series of executive coaching books.

Baum shared the rules she lives by to maximize her productivity and effectiveness as a leader. Here’s some of what she told us.

Remember that you hired smart people and trust them to get the job done.

When it comes to effective management, it’s important to give your team a mission and then set them free.

“You can’t do it alone,” she said. “Your company will achieve more with an empowered team. …And people like it better too. If employees don’t feel respected and empowered, if they feel like you see them as dumb…if they are micromanaged…they will leave.”

It’s easy to forget that micromanaging your team creates a tone of mistrust, denting morale and limiting the team’s capacity to grow. Too much oversight also takes away from the bigger picture, which are the company’s larger goals. While it may be challenging to step back and let those below you take the reins, the payoff in the end is worth it. You’ll have a team that learns to step up and be capable. And they will do it with less interference.

Don’t let your calendar control your life, control your calendar.

It’s crucial to achieve a balance between protecting your calendar and being available, Baum says.

“Be open to people who want to meet with you,” she says, “but block space in your calendar for strategy and thinking. That planning time is really important.”

When you are in charge, Baum asserts, your job is to lead, to control the vision. So if you don’t take time to strategize, she says, six months from now you’ll be asking yourself, “How did I get here?”

At the same time, when it comes to building your career, it’s important to always take the meetings offered to you, Baum advises. “You never know what will come out of that meeting in your calendar,” she says. “It could be your next product idea, next great employee, your next great coach or mentor.”

Making time for those meetings allows you to build your network. And every good business person knows that a lot comes down to who you know, she said. So, take a hard look at your calendar. Take a breath. Go over your day, your week, your month. Look for ways to balance meetings with planning time. Think of your calendar as an effective way to make a plan, set a goal and pursue it.

“Now you’re running it, instead of it running you,” Baum says.