- Transform Your Leadership in 30 Days -
Successful Leaders Transform Themselves Before Transforming Their Organizations
Leadership Redefined, a book focused solely on leadership transformation, covers 30 best practices any leader can leverage to not only unlock their own potential but also the potential of those they’re leading (See Exhibit 1). Indeed, perhaps no element is as vital to ensuring enterprise success than world-class leadership. Simply, while the level of employee talent may determine the potential of an organization it is the leader that ultimately unlocks that potential and determines the success of both the organization and its people. In addition, whether you’re a C-Suite executive or freshly minted college graduate, leadership is everyone’s business. Indeed, it's the person not the title that creates real leaders. Finally, leadership is not some amorphous, convoluted attribute that some were either born with or not. To the contrary, leadership is a highly learnable skill. As Warren Bennis noted, "The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born - that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born." Simply, leadership is not so much about innate gifts and raw talent but rather about the emotional awareness, humility, and perseverance to understand that leadership is a lifelong lesson that is never mastered.
Accordingly, Leadership Redefined can help any leader acquire the endurance of a marathoner, the musculature of a sprinter, and the mental fortitude to embrace a race with no finish but rather an unending goal of learning, continuous improvement, and personal transformation. Indeed, leaders must transform themselves before transforming their organizations. A continuous improvement mindset is critical because leaders are facing increasing pressure from the rising expectations of customers, employees, and shareholders. Compounding this pressure is the fact that most enterprises are failing to achieve growth – in large part due to a landscape where volatility and disruption are the new normal. This has created an ever-growing gap between top and bottom-quartile performers. Several key stats highlight this ever-growing corporate gap - gaps that make any leader’s task a more challenging one than ever (See Exhibit 2), specifically this gap includes:
74% of transformation projects fail, meaning only 26% drive value
85% of stagnant growth stems from internal problems not external, competitive, or market forces; in large part because complexity has increased 35X over the past 50 years and 50% of performance requirements are contradictory
70% of employees are not engaged with their work, with almost 20% destroying value and 50% not creating any value day in and day out
93% of companies do not exceed customer expectations, limiting customer loyalty, advocacy, referrals, and overall lifetime value
50% of the S&P 500 will be out of business over the next decade as compared to 1965 where the average tenure was 33 years
Simply, prevalent organizational health problems coupled with quickening innovation cycles, growing customer expectations, and increasing market impatience creates significant value erosion. In a landscape where failure is more common than success, leadership transformation has never been more critical because a domino effect of either good or bad trickles down from the leader. As Geoffrey Chaucer, the "Father of English literature," noted: “If gold rusts, what then will the iron do?” Simply, if leaders are not in good standing what will happen to those they’re leading. Accordingly, and as John P. Kotter stated, “Successful change is 70 to 90 percent leadership.” As such, leaders don’t have an easy road because success begins with them. On the bright side, leadership is a highly learnable skill. And, while there are many facets that go into successful leadership this book highlights 30 best leadership practices that any leader can leverage in transforming a challenging leadership environment to a platform for success and growth.These 30 best practices are grouped into one of three categories, namely (1) inspire, (2) empower, and (3) innovate (See Exhibits 1 and 3). They are highlighted as follows:
1. INSPIRE: If you can inspire you can lead but to inspire rather than command action, leaders must appeal to people's hearts more than their minds. Simply, great leaders plan with the mind, lead with the heart, and reflect with the soul (Chapters 1-10).
2. EMPOWER: Great leaders don’t create followers but instead create other leaders. As such, leaders must empower those they are leading while simultaneously creating a collaborative culture that promotes the notion that together we can accomplish anything as long as we don't care who gets the credit (Chapters 11-20).
INNOVATE: Visionary leaders embrace change and failure, understanding that the term "good enough" is used by the lazy to justify inaction. As such, great leaders disrupt themselves and their companies before others do it for them by taking a transformation always on mindset. Indeed, without creating a runway for failure, leaders will never see a runway for success (See Chapters 21-30).
Each of these three aforementioned leadership categories contains ten accompanying chapters and best practices. Although no individual will be a master at each of the proposed thirty best leadership practices, awareness is often the greatest agent for change and continuous improvement. Accordingly, whether your leadership time has already arrived or whether you’re in the incubation stage, the leadership journey offers an exponential ceiling of potential for those that embrace change, growth, and continuous learning. Remember, leadership is everyone’s business and is a highly learnable skill. Simply, leaders are made rather than born and it's the person not the title that creates real leaders. As such, Leadership Redefined and its accompanying 30 best practices can help any individual maximize not only their leadership potential but also the leadership potential of those around them.
Overvew by Chapter
Values based leaders don’t care about being right but about doing the right thing, even under the most trying circumstances. Simply, just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.
Inspiration and action are born from a vision which only happens by appealing to people’s hearts more than their minds; as such, leaders must plan with the head but lead with the heart.
Without focus an inspired vision will never come to fruition. Simply, focus ensures simplicity instead of complexity, alignment instead of chaos, and ownership instead of artificial buy-in.
Leaders can't inspire action without a purpose driven culture. Simply, culture is a company’s nervous system - without it an enterprise is a paralyzed entity because numbers don't drive growth - people do.
Humility is the gateway to successful leadership because great leadership does not rest with those that think they know but rather with those that have the humility to realize they don’t know.
Momentum is a leader’s best or greatest foe. Negative momentum, with its strong gravitational pull, can make a great leader look mediocre while positive momentum can make a mediocre leader look great.
Trust is earned slowly but lost in a moment. If you’re not trusted you cannot lead but to be trustworthy you must first give trust out before expecting to receive it back as leadership is based on goodwill.
Leadership is far more about what you practice and how you practice it than in what you preach and how you preach it. Simply, leaders influence and inspire action through their own behaviors.
Enlarging others makes one bigger. Great leaders give credit where credit is due because the deepest principal of human nature is not money, title, or rank but the thirst for recognition and appreciation.
Don’t confuse leadership and democracy, so lead with emotional awareness because high IQ does very little for leadership success, it’s rather EQ or the lack thereof that determines leadership success.
A great leader doesn't create followers but instead creates other leaders. Simply, empower and drive success by leading from behind during good times and leading from the front during turbulent.
A leader's capacity to empower directly impacts people’s ability to succeed as only empowered people reach their potential. Simply, true leadership comes from giving away power - not hoarding it.
One can lead by pushing down or pulling up. Pushing down focuses on weaknesses while pulling up focuses on strengths. Simply, don't try to put in what was left out but rather draw out what was left in.
Mentorship is a two-way street so invest and be willing to be mentored because one's time as a leader may be fleeting but the investment one makes in people is enduring, with limitless ROI.
In a transformation always on era, leaders must invest in training as people need the endurance of a marathoner, musculature of a sprinter, and mental fortitude to embrace a race with no finish line.
Every rule takes away choice, which is the fuel for learning, innovation, and productivity. As such, leaders must be an enabler not an inhibitor of action by managing for outcomes not activities.
Without goals people never reach their potential yet without simplicity those goals become chaos rather than reality. Thinking big is the mother of innovation while simplicity is the gateway to action.
Keeping a pulse on your team drives engagement versus artificial harmony, engaged employees instead of a toxic culture, and a continuous improvement mindset instead of a sudden mutiny.
Together we can accomplish anything as long as we don’t care who gets the credit because individually we are no more powerful than a single drop of water yet together we are as powerful as an ocean.
A leader isn’t good because they’re right but rather because they’re willing to listen, learn, and bring out the best in people. Without two-way communication one is commanding not communicating.
The phrase “good enough” is used by the lazy to justify inaction so disrupt yourselves before others do it for you. And, without creating a runway for failure leaders can't expect a runway for success.
Volatility is the new normal where winners are not those with size but rather those with speed. Leaders must reconcile the need for speed with unbiased, value maximizing decision-making.
People are a company’s greatest asset and top talent is always in short supply. Great leaders ensure the enterprise not only hires the best but also has the culture, training, and development to keep the best.
Organizations don’t change until people change and people don't change without high engagement. Simply, if a leader wants raving, engaged customers they must first create raving, engaged employees.
Great leaders do not let the preservation of artificial harmony trump the importance of an open, transparent culture where everyone has a voice to respectfully dissent and be heard.
Great leaders focus on the short and long-term by learning from the past, minding the present, and preparing for the future because success is acceptance of the “and” and rejection of the “or.”
Volatility is the new normal meaning decisions must be both quicker and better. Without proper decision-making issues such as biases, heuristics, and “gut” will unknowingly drive value erosive decisions.
Negotiations make up the DNA of almost every leadership initiative so improve this capability or you’ll be begging rather than negotiating while destroying value and leaving a long trail of ruined relationships.
Self-reflection is the fuel for continuous improvement and the gateway to both humility and 20/20 vision. Without self-reflection any past success or failure will be nothing more than a game of chance.
Perseverance is failure’s best friend and ally because life's greatest lessons are learned in the valleys, not the peaks. As such, great leaders know that the lowest valleys present a platform for the highest peaks.
About the Author
Joshua L. Seedman is the founder and chairman of Performance Neuroeconomics Ideation (PNI), a management consulting firm that specializes in global transformations and turnarounds. He has over 20 years of global leadership and general management experience with expertise in leading enterprise transformations and turnarounds to Fortune 500, private equity, and non-profit organizations. His experience includes executive roles within F500 companies, top-tier consulting leadership (McKinsey & Company), over 10 years of global P&L ownership, and corporate M&A lawyer (Davis Polk & Wardwell). In addition, he has held countless interim executive roles at large global enterprises, where he has led full-scale growth turnarounds, including holding CEO, COO, and Chief Transformation Officer roles. He has published over 100 white papers and is credited with creating over 50+ transformation trademarks. He skipped high school and entered college as a young teenager, graduating as the youngest valedictorian in school history. He received his MBA from Kellogg School of Management and his Juris Doctor (cum laude) from Northwestern University School of Law. In his spare time he enjoys playing and composing classical crossover piano music where he is credited with producing six globally distributed CDs of original compositions.