In celebration of the one-year anniversary of the release of The Heart of Leadership, I’m writing a few posts to underscore some of the big ideas from the book. One of these ideas often stirs debate but remains true: Leaders are different.
This idea about leaders being different is often misunderstood. Some have incorrectly concluded I am suggesting leaders are better than non-leaders. That’s not the case at all! Think about a shortstop and a catcher. Both can be world-class athletes; they both play baseball; they both wear a glove and swing a bat, but they are very different players. If we ignore the differences, we’ll end up asking the shortstop to play in the catcher’s position and the consequences will be ugly.
So what's the big deal? Why is it important to embrace the idea leaders are different? Three primary reasons…
Identification - It helps to identify emerging leaders if you know the traits you’re looking for. One of the challenges associated with creating a leadership pipeline has always been identifying the men and women to invest in. This makes sense, but for many reasons, organizations often apply a more “hit or miss” approach to identify emerging leaders. If you know what you’re looking for, you’ll find it much more often.
Development – Clarity about the difference between leaders and non-leaders helps us identify strengths, gaps and growth opportunities. One of the arenas you and I need to continual strengthen is our leadership character. Far too often, it is not discussed in conversations about personal development. Once we define leadership character, we can strengthen it. Great leaders grow.
Coaching - Most leaders whose influence is flagging are not struggling from a skill deficit. If that were the case, they could simply close the gap – skills can be learned. What derails most leaders are issues of leadership character. When we have a deep understanding of leadership character and how to develop it, we are better able to coach others.
If you’ve not read The Heart of Leadership, I would recommend it. In it, I’ve provided some specific ideas on how to strengthen leadership character. Also, The Heart of Leadership Field Guide will be available in the next few weeks. Watch for a post with the official announcement and details on how you can get your FREE copy.
Don’t make leadership character a mystery. Make it your competitive advantage. If you do, you'll become a leader people want to follow.
Enjoy the journey!