What kind of leadership would you need to undertake the largest engineering project ever, where success depends on the use of technologies which have not yet even been invented, and where a well-resourced team of experts had previously failed with massive loss of financial resources and lives? Sam Chand explores the issues in his book Bigger Faster Leadership: Lessons from the Builders of the Panama Canal.
Fewer than 1 percent of CEOs participate in CEO peer advisory groups, yet most of the high-performing CEOs who are members of a group say their experience has lifted their organizations and changed their lives beyond measure, according to Leon Shapiro and Leo Bottary in their book The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth and Success. While the CEO’s life can be a lonely one, it does not have to be.
Despite the complexity and ambiguity of the world today, we all have the potential to develop as leaders, according to Alan Watkins in his book 4D Leadership: Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development. Successful leadership development requires a focus on upgrading our operating system, not just adding-on more ‘apps’ in the form of skills and experience.
Left to our well-honed, pattern-seeking tendencies, we will begin paying attention to those parts of our environment that fit our frames. Just as significant, we will ignore or downplay those parts of our environment that do not fit our frame. Not only is our brilliance unquestioned, it is inappropriately reinforced by our search for evidence, according to John Austin in his book Unquestioned Brilliance: Navigating a Fundamental Leadership Trap.
Inspiration is a very poor foundation on which to build substantive change, and the leadership tales we hear, stories that often have only modest amounts of validity, routinely make things worse, and possibly much worse, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer in his book Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time. The author goes on to make his case with a number of non-validated propositions supported by inspirational or perhaps de-inspirational anecdotes.
Leadership doesn’t require a written invitation. It isn’t something that only “important people” can do. It isn’t a function of money, power, or title, although these elements can certainly affect, for better or worse, your ability to pursue your aspirations. Leadership is a way of thinking that engages your special talents now and, ideally, for the rest of your life, according to Robert Kaplan in his book What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner.
Does a leader’s character really contribute to the organization’s bottom line, or are strong business results simply a reflection of a solid business model and positive macroeconomic forces? That is one of the questions asked by Fred Kiel in his book Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win. The findings of the book are based on a large number of surveys of employees of substantial organizations, concerning their leaders, as well as interviews with the leaders themselves, and also financial information relating to those organizations.
Introspection and self-reflection can help you identify your current strengths and leadership style, but your current way of thinking about your job and yourself is exactly what is keeping you from stepping up, according to Herminia Ibarra in her book Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader. You will need to change your mind-set, and in order to do that you need to start by acting like a leader, and then learn how to think like a leader.
Real-world examples of exceptional leaders are few and far between, since so many would-be WOWs stop short of their full potential. But in the fictional world of television, where anything is possible, there are a plethora of examples from which to draw inspiration, according to Sheri Staak in her book Tune in to WOW Leadership: 10 Lessons Learned from America’s Favorite Shows. If we look beneath the surface of the drama, comedy, sentimentality, and occasional horror of what we see on TV, we find layers of truth. We can relate to it, understand it, and learn from it.
It requires courage to voice your vision, to stand up for it, and to battle the resistance you’ll inevitably face in return, because an effective vision by definition has to be original, and therefore to some degree be provocative, maybe even slightly controversial, according to Rob-Jan de Jong in his book Anticipate: The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead. That is one of the reasons why leaders are often reluctant to espouse a compelling vision, and yet vision casting is one of the key components of effective leadership.