If you’re new to the site, Chris’s note below is the place to start:
Welcome to Leading by the Book.
First, let’s address the obvious element in the room. There is plenty written about leadership, whether it be books, articles or blogs. Why on earth do we need such a focus on leadership? The answer is pretty simple: because the vast majority of what’s written and taught about leadership is wrong. I believe that leadership is the answer to improving one’s personal and professional life. It’s not easy; in fact it’s quite hard. But if anyone wants to improve themselves in any way, the first step is a thorough understanding of leadership.
We live in an age where the the founders of billion dollar startups are lauded as great leaders. Maybe I’m weird, but I think founding a billion dollar company doesn’t necessary make you a leader. It can make you many things, including smart and lucky, but it’s not a given that it makes you a leader.
Take one glance at the business press and look at who is being idolized. More often than not these are individuals that are domineering, arrogant and stubborn – operating as if they have “magic” vision, their way is the only way, and anyone that doesn’t agree must be dealt with harshly. It’s quite a stretch to think that because they were successful that the aforementioned traits are what’s needed to succeed. What’s incredibly concerning is that an entire generation is being brought up thinking that this is the way to success.
You can be successful despite yourself, not because of yourself. Yet, an entire generation of young people, as well as a healthy contingent of seasoned professionals, are taking on these traits in their search for success. The billionaires that you see praised are usually the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of those that are truly successful actually operate in a way that is very much the antithesis or the traits you see idolized in the media.
I’ve seen this first-hand. Whether at Fortune 500s or small tech startups, there’s one overwhelming truth: great leadership is the surest way to success. In fact, throughout my career, I’ve learned that great leadership can make bad products/services successful, and that poor leadership can kill great products/services. Leadership is a tremendous weapon. It can move companies to achieve great things. At the same time it can be dangerous; poor leadership can kill and ruin companies.
If you want to be successful in anything you do, focusing on becoming a great leader will give you the best chance and will minimize your chances of failure. Make no mistake, this isn’t just limited to business. These principles apply – and are necessary – if you want to achieve your goals and win in your personal life.
So, why such a focus on leadership? Because it matters. It’s not the only way to be successful, but it’s certainly the best way to be successful. So then, why haven’t more individuals taken this to heart? From what I’ve seen, it’s because they don’t really understand what leadership really is. After all, to them leadership is a soft skill. It’s something that lives on a resume under the “skills” heading, right below Microsoft Office as a check box. In reality it’s so much more; it’s a constantly evolving mindset of excellence.
It’s that misperception that gets people in trouble, but also the reason for this blog to exist. We need to create a movement of individuals embracing leadership and its importance, so that they can work like hell to develop themselves as leaders.
As we’ll often discuss, there’s no single “correct” way to lead, but there are traits that are omnipresent in great leaders.
What leadership is
What leadership is not
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. So, as you get started on this journey to becoming a better leader at work and in life, where do you go? First, be sure to stay up to date on the blog. Second, connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn – it’s always great to chat with developing leaders. Third, and most importantly, don’t ever stop improving. Keep learning, keep sweating, keep pushing to be a better version of yourself. There’s simple no alternative.
Go like hell,