In Today’s Challenge, I usually respond to a question from a leader regarding a problem or issue he or she is facing. Today, since we’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of The Secret, I’ve been asked to share some of the leadership lessons I’ve learned since it was published. Here goes…
Defining leadership is critical – When our organization decided we needed more leaders, faster, I had no idea how powerful having a common definition would be. In hindsight, it seems obvious. Until we agreed on what leadership looked like in our context, it was virtually impossible to systematically develop leaders; much less do it faster.
Defining leadership is not sufficient – After The Secret was released, I began getting calls from organizations asking me to speak. Time and time again, the request was the same – “Can you tell us what’s next?” I had naively assumed defining leadership would be sufficient. As I quickly learned, it was just the starting point.
Leadership skills are never enough – In The Secret, Ken Blanchard and I wrote about the essential practices, or skills, all great leaders demonstrate. Although skills are certainly critical, very few leaders fail for lack of skills - they are too easy to learn. Most leaders who struggle do so because of issues of the heart. I devoted my last book to this topic. The Heart of Leadership identifies the critical leadership character traits you and I must cultivate to become a leader people want to follow.
What organizations need is a leadership culture – Once you have a working definition of leadership, you can begin the hard part of the journey. A leadership culture is a place in which leaders are routinely and systematically developed, and you have a surplus of leaders. This is a journey with no end. The good news, the benefits don’t end either. I’ll write more about the process required to create this culture in the future.
Our capacity to grow determines our capacity to lead – This is not really a lesson I learned in the last decade… it’s something I’ve believed throughout my career. The reason it makes this list is my conviction on this has deepened over the last ten years. When I’m asked by young leaders for career advice, I tell them to intentionally and strategically pursue growth. I have nothing better to offer.
I’m excited about the next decade. I look forward to sharing with you what I’m learning along the way![GLS_Shield]
What are some of the big leadership lessons you’ve learned in the last decade?