Category Archives: Leadership
Over the weekend I came across a series of content by a leadership author who heavily discounted what they would proclaim as so-called leadership experts.
As I mulled over their claims, I realized how many people in higher levels of leadership discredit others because their credentials don’t seem to be to their standards.
Let’s calibrate our understanding of what experts are:
- a person having a high level of knowledge or skill in a particular subject (Cambridge Dictionary)
- having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
We should also review the definition of a leader:
- a person who manages or controls other people, esp. because of his or her ability or position (Cambridge)
- a person who leads (Merriam-Webster)
It is essential here to point out that in none of these definitions (or others) is there a criteria for PhD’s, MBA’s, being on a board of directors, authoring books, teaching at universities or needing any other qualifying experience or education.
Unfortunately people who look down on others in this fashion tend to do so from an aura of superiority, resting on their own laurels. Experientially these people tend to be the least teachable and most difficult to create an engaged team that will trust and rally around them. They place themselves in a position of higher criticism and use their sole judgement to assess who is worthy of credibility.
And what these folks do is exhibit the same poor leadership behaviors that they denounce in their content. They place roadblocks into building another person up or giving them a platform for voice and value in what they know.
Here are some real-life situations in which someone has discounted another’s opinion because it didn’t meet the person’s prejudices:
- Engineering experts who told Henry Ford his V8 engine idea was impossible
- A restaurant executive who discounts others input because no one who is not a chef can talk about food at their knowledge level
- Critics of Gary Vaynerchuck simply because he struggled in school and just rants about social media
- Tenured university professors who discount the education and real-life experience of adjunct faculty
- Football leaders and experts discounting Tom Brady in their scouting report
- Leaders of all kinds of levels and organizations who devalue the input of front line managers
Leaders and experts don’t need to have letters behind their name or have high-level positions.
As I have mentioned before, teenagers and the person you meet in everyday life can be effective leaders. All someone needs to be an expert is experience and the application through study and practice of their daily sphere.
The greatest experts in the field of leadership will tell you lifting others up, giving them value and a voice, and offering them a platform to showcase their talents is what true leadership is about.
Being an expert and leader is more than just letters after a name. It’s about the application of real-life principles to teach, lead and positively influence your sphere.
The power of the spoken word is immense.
It has the ability to inspire, motivate and lead others to an amazing effect. It also has the ability to humiliate destroy and the more allies a person is value and self-worth.
Words can build up or tear down, the choice is yours.
Because most of our communication – whether it is spoken, transcribed or digital – we need to be cognizant of its impact on other people. It’s easy to point fingers at other people‘s words but it needs to start with each of us individually and how we can edify (or detract from) another person’s value.
Be mindful of our words that criticize, embellish, are colorful and unprofessional, that are used to elevate yourself above someone else. We may do this under the guise of telling it straight but in reality it can cause divisiveness, disengagement and loss of credible influence.
While we all want to be honest in our communication, great leaders and great people know how to balance the any conversation with an overwhelming desire to use words that build, restore, inspire, encourage and create a positive impact on those they are intended, and not intended, for.
Use your words wisely.
TODAY IS THE LAUNCH OF THE NEW BOOK “THE LEADERSHIP KILLER” BY BILL TREASURER AND JOHN HAVLIK. THEY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TODAY’S POST AS A TEASER FOR THIS TIMELY LOOK INTO THE STATE OF LEADERSHIP.
THIS IS A GREAT BOOK FOR US NOT TO “PITCHFORK” AND SAY “SO AND SO COULD REALLY USE THIS” BUT TO DEEPLY LOOK INTO OURSELVES AND HOW THE LEADERSHIP KILLER CAN AFFECT EACH OF US IN OUR ABILITY TO LEAD OTHERS. I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO HELP US KEEP NECESSARY GUARDRAILS IN OUR QUEST FOR POSITIVE IMPACT IN OUR LEADERSHIP.
First, you might ask yourself, what is the Leadership Killer? And to that I say, good question indeed. As a leadership consultant for more than 20 years, I’ve come to recognize definitive patterns in styles and behaviors of good leaders. There are key characteristics that bolster the leader and there are certain habits that will take the leader and their team down. One of these habits is what I call The Leadership Killer. There’s a little Killer in all of us and if that doesn’t sound ominous to you, you might already be in trouble.
My friend of 30+ years, Captain John “Coach” Havlik, Navy SEAL (Retired), and I recently co-authored a new book, The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance. We wrote the book while examining hubris and the role it plays in killing leadership. Hubris, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as “exaggerated pride or self-confidence.” Other authorities define it as dangerous overconfidence. Neither definition sounds like something you should want to aspire to as either a new or experienced leader. Rather, your goal is to avoid this at all costs—either by never becoming hubristic or taking a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and changing your ways tout suite, if you’ve already headed in that direction.
How Dare We Talk About Good Leadership?
John and I aren’t shy when it comes to admitting that we’ve both fallen prey to the Killer, hubris. We have both been the victims of our own ego-driven self-sabotage. We are seasoned, but not unscathed. Many of the lessons we offer in our book were earned the hard way, through our own faulty and arrogant leadership styles. We suspect though, that you’d rather avoid similar circumstances and instead learn from a couple of guys who have “been there, done that.” Whatever bad you’ve done as a leader in the past, put it in the ground so those good leaders can grow. If you’re just starting your leadership journey, grow where lessons are cultivated. Those are the best environments for learning and ensuring your path will be challenging and rewarding.
Speedbumps are Inevitable
No one can choose a leadership career and expect it to be easy. As you progress, you will face many challenges, obstacles, and setbacks. Be thankful for that, because facing them is how you develop and strengthen your leadership. A leader’s character is defined by how he handles, or mishandles, such speedbumps. Speedbumps cause stress, and that stress can increase the temptation to misuse your leadership power. The leader who deftly manages the Killer will be able to learn from speedbumps without skidding off the road.
The Killer is out There
The Killer is deadly serious and means business. Most leaders set out to do good, but even they can be corrupted and the culprit is most often the Killer. So be proactive. LOOK for the Killer in you. Think about a time when life let you know that you’d gotten too cocky, and write down the answers to the following:
- What caused you to become so full of yourself?
- What outcome did the cockiness lead to?
- Now…..think….What did you learn about yourself in the process?
- How do you honor those lessons in the way you lead today?
Knowing that the Killer can strike anytime, this gives you the opportunity to examine past behaviors and the awareness to keep your ego in check before anything unfortunate happens again.
You Get to Decide
You may find it surprising, but what the Killer does with you and your leadership is up to YOU. Hubris wreaks havoc when your self-will runs amok. Hubris appears when you let your leadership power go to your head. The Killer arises from immodesty and immaturity. What tempers hubris, what will bring your leadership back to a career filled with altruism, opportunity, and authenticity is humility. It’s within you just as much as the Killer, but accessing it can be a challenge. You can move from the darkness of hubris in the lightness of humility. Are you ready for the journey?
Bill Treasurer is the founder of Giant Leap Consulting and author of five books on courage and leadership, including the international bestseller, Courage Goes to Work. Giant Leap has led over 1,000 leadership programs across the world for clients that include NASA, Saks Fifth Avenue, UBS Bank, and eBay. Treasurer is a former member of the U.S. High Diving Team, and attended West Virginia University on a full athletic scholarship. @BTreasurer www.BillTreasurer.com
CAPT John “Coach” Havlik, U.S. Navy SEAL (Retired), led special operations teams around the world during his 31-year naval career, to include the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the SEAL’s most elite operational unit. CAPT Havlik was a nationally-ranked swimmer, and is a member of the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame and Mountaineer Legends Society. @CoachHavlik www.CoachHavlik.com