What Makes Certain Leaders Highly Effective?
Christopher had recently been promoted from shift supervisor to department manager in an online retailer's large distribution center. Unfortunately, Max, his boss, the shift manager, who leaned toward the theoretical side, was not as helpful or supportive as he could be and Christopher floundered. The distribution center's general manager recognized Max's failing and transferred him into a staff job that required no supervision. He replaced him with Janelle, a leader of considerable accomplishments, who understood how to develop promising employees.
Within weeks, Christopher's performance improved significantly, and he went on to become an outstanding leader for his company. Although he didn't realize it at the time, this experience was invaluable. In essence, what he discovered was that the very best people to teach leadership are those who have been there, done that, learned from it.
In this book I highlight similar observations to help you learn hard-earned leadership lessons. I call these hands-on advice. Regard them collectively as your own personal leadership adviser, the spirit hovering over your right shoulder, whispering in your ear.
Okay, let's get started with the first of these based on Christopher's experience.
Hands-On Advice: Find somebody to advise you who's been there, done that, learned from it.
Why? Because that's the person who can give you the most valuable advice on leadershipthe person who has insights into the job based on his practical real-world experience. This is what I mean by the term hands-on. It has a corollary:
Hands-On Advice: Find a mentor, regardless of your level in the company.
You might be a first-line supervisor, a middle manager, a top executive, a specialist, an aspiring manager. You should have somebody in your corner, somebody you can turn to when you need advice,
somebody who can provide an objective opinion. That person might be your boss, another employee who you respect, possibly an outsider. The point is you will always benefit from the association.
And that's what I bring to the table. I've been there, done that, learned from itadmittedly, sometimes the hard way. The point is I've worked my way up from the lower ranks of a company to its highest position. Along the way I acquired some priceless lessons on what works and what doesn't in leadership positions throughout the organization. And I founded my company based on teaching others those very same principles.
How Does This Book Address the Answer to Today's Leadership Challenges?
- The book is based upon 14 years of coaching and training leaders at all levels and in all types of industries. I developed and refined the Seven Disciplines through my coaching practice and observing how the Seven Disciplines and Eleven Practices took leaders I've coached and worked with from good to great performers.
- Because of the inordinate amount of pressure exerted on leaders today, coupled with the business necessity of continually doing more with less, leaders have little or no time to hone their leadership skills. This book takes you through the process, step by step, with succinct and descriptive steps, each with real-life examples, and a guide and practice application at the end of each chapter to help coach you through the journey.
- Regardless of what section you read, skills can be gleaned from every chapter to improve leadership functions and abilities.
- Before you can lead others, you must have fundamental and proven disciplines as a basis to rely on for success. The core disciplines described in this book are those that successful leaders I've coached have used to improve their job performances.
- Not only are you learning the seven disciplines, which have proven themselves with literally hundreds of leaders, but
you will also learn from stories of success and failure. Additionally, the takeaway section provides action items to further the application of the disciplines and practices learned best by doing. It's almost like having your own personal coach.
- The seven disciplines not only bring to light successful business leadership ideals, but those same disciplines can be applied to improve everyday life.
- Since the ability of leaders to motivate and inspire others is critical, the book shows you how to communicate and interact to execute and lead effectively.
- Employee engagement in the workplace is at an all-time low. In most cases, poor leadership is the reason. This book provides answers. It lays out a platform of proven concepts and ideas that will, if followed, eliminate this burdensome problem in today's workforce.
- Leadership starts from within and manifests itself on the outside. This book provides you with the skills needed within and shows how to seamlessly transfer them into viable actionable steps.
- Many leaders today are promoted based on their technical skills without any consideration for what it takes to perform effectively as a leader. The fate of an organization depends on its leadership. My book provides a step-by-step plan that every company can use to develop its leaders and point to and say: This is the right way to lead.
- Most important of all, Seven Disciplines of a Leader is a book from the trenchesnot a theoretical hodgepodge of data and ideas. These concepts and ideas are practical and easy to apply. They have constituted the basis of my pragmatic and highly regarded coaching sessions for years.
I've been a janitor who worked in a sweltering furnace room all day, sorting garbage by hand, tearing apart each and every bag and separating the garbage that would burn from the metal and aerosol cans that wouldn't. I always hoped I would be able to pick out all the aerosol cans so they
wouldn't explode in the raging furnace and pop my eardrums. Yet every day I came to work motivated because I had a leader who inspired me to be the best that I could be and take pride in my work.
Early in my career I was a high school basketball coach and sought out great college coaches like John Wooden, Bobby Knight, and Al McGuire to see what made them successful and how to incorporate some of their methods of success and leadership practices into my own program. I had a thirst for knowledge that kept me seeking to improve my leadership skills every single day. I learned to motivate the young men on my team by challenging them to achieve peak performance, teamwork, and personal goals.
As an executive, I took the principles and lessons learned from those early experiences and realized that leadership is focusing on the people side of business. It's helping your people perform beyond their own level of expectations. It's bringing out the best in people, teams, and organizations, allowing them to quickly clarify their purpose and vision, set goals, and stay focused and committed.
Fourteen years ago, at the pinnacle of my corporate career, I completed a stint as a CEO and felt it was time to move on to a new career. After engaging numerous consulting firms, I imagined creating a single firm capable of providing truly innovative solutions to a multifaceted range of organizational problems.
I envisioned a unique team of highly experienced senior practitioners who could deliver unprecedented client satisfaction, improve performance, and exceed expectations in three critical areas: consulting, coaching, and training. This pivotal focus would allow us to develop long-term strategic partnerships that could effectively address every level of clients' changing needs.
Over the last decade, despite economic downturns, we've experienced dramatic growth, and I've been very fortunate to coach and provide leadership training to CEOs, presidents,
corporate executives, as well as managers, supervisors, and business owners. We've worked with some of the largest and most well-known companies in the world such as Sony, Samsung, Qualcomm, Abbott Labs, Pfizer, CVS, Baxter, Monsanto, General Mills, Tupperware, and hundreds of others.
Having coached hundreds of leaders through thousands of coaching sessions, I've been able to narrow down the essence of leadership success to Seven Disciplines and Eleven Practices that I'll share with you in this book. I'm going to describe leadership skills I've applied in a common sense, easy-to-understand fashion to help leaders at every level of an organization make a real difference in the workplace. The strategies and techniques can be immediately applied to improve your leadership ability.
Over the past 10 years I've worked with people, teams, and organizations who were seeking to:
- Improve individual performance and productivity.
- Address leadership development and succession planning.
- Make a significant impact on their long-term success.
- Sharpen the leadership skills of high potential individuals.
- Change behavior of leaders to make a long-term positive impact on organizational performance.
- Develop the skill set of current and future leaders.
- Build more effective teams.
- Address specific workplace problems.
- Build job-critical competencies.
- Achieve individual performance objectives aligned with organizational goals.
- Raise employee engagement.
- Address the biggest problems facing...