Category Archives: Leadership Development
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.
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
Self-Awareness has been a vital part of leadership for a handful of years. But being self-aware is not enough.
Great leaders need to focus on being “Others-Aware”.
Leaders do not operate in a vacuum, and cannot lead without the collective efforts and vision of others. But to focus on one’s self exclusively will lead to a shallowness of understanding and influence that will be ineffective and wear yourself out.
Here are some reasons and key benefits to being a leader who is “others-aware”:
- Understanding the concept that business is people. Google “business is people” and you’ll see the concept exposited from Richard Branson, Forbes magazine, Brian Tracy, Harvard Business Review, and others. This philosophy of success is based on meeting the needs of the organizations teams and individuals. When you realize the value of bringing others along for the journey, you start to become aware of their needs as both colleagues, business partners, and customers.
- Don’t focus too much on self. By focusing solely on self, you will obsess about everything you are working on and exclude those around you. This isolationist mindset will cause you to detach from the big picture of what is going on around you. By focusing on others, you not only become more aware of their needs, but also realize more of what you need to work on yourself in the process.
- You are only one piece of the team. If a conductor of an orchestra stepped to the platform to perform without the ensemble, they would be ineffective and a failure. They need the entire orchestra to complement their abilities and bring harmony together. Likewise, as a leader you need your teams and cannot achieve the mission without them. Bringing their talents to the forefront and making them the star of the show delivers results that cannot be met in any one person’s power.
- Connecting with people. Being aware of others means to connect others to others, sometimes even without yourself, to allow a team to flourish, innovate, and syngergize. A leader focused on self will get in the way of their people’s interactions. Instead, know what your team’s needs are from within itself and foster those working relationships from within to build connection and culture.
- Knowing the needs to the individual, and the whole team. If as a leader you fall short of meeting your people’s basic needs, they will pull away, causing toxicity, less production, and even some sabotage of the organization in various levels. Employees whose needs are met will grow, give more of themselves, and know that their workplace cares for their personal and career lives.
- Strengthening and building current and subsequent leaders. If you think other people will follow you solely on your example, you are missing the point. Future leaders are great followers, but all followers follow only those that invest in them. If you want to develop better employees and future leaders, know what they need, commit and invest in building their skills to attain those abilities.
- Creating a deeper engagement. Sometimes leaders will focus on employee engagement, but from such an internal aspect they fail to grasp the concept and bring full committed engagement about. Engaged employees are only engaged so long as they feel they are being taken care of; they are totally committed when they know their best interests are being looked after. Drill down engagement to deeper roots by focusing on others and being aware of their needs at any given time.
If you are a leader who is being self-aware…keep it up and keep growing. Yet remind yourself to be “others-aware: and engage in their future. Bring as many people along the way to attaining the goals set before you. You’ll be amazed at how they will grow, and how you grow as well.
Make the commitment to be “Others-Aware” and work on your interactions with the people in your sphere of influence!