With a number of our business clients we’ve been digging deep into the topic of leadership.
We see it as a “field” that is ripe for disruption, and in particular, simplification.
There’s millions of great ideas on leadership.
And there are many many many great thinkers too.
But, more than ideas and books and speeches and whatnot, what matters most is…
How Do You Better Lead, Right Now…
The field of leadership is akin to the field of personal development.
You can spend your lifetime plowing through shelves of books and videos and courses, but that’s not what most of us want or need.
We simply want to know the ideas that are right for us, and be able to use them in a way that works.
Most people don’t want to know how an internal combustion engine works; they just want to know how to get in and drive.
Leadership is the same.
YOUR Definition of Leading
A consultant to our consulting firm (yes, like a double consultant), a Navy SEAL sees leadership in action.
It’s about building high performance teams and empowering them to do their best work.
Vince Lombardi saw leadership as asking yourself tough questions, working harder, chasing perfection, and demanding autonomy.
John C. Maxwell. Warren Bennis. Simon Sinek. And many other top leadership experts have many other great models, principles, tips, and ideas.
So, who do you listen to? Whose leadership model do you put to work? Do you have to read them all to figure it out? Have to attend 3 years of leadership workshops?
Because we often don’t know what to do, many of us revert to what we’ve always done.
Instead, what most of us need is a simple way to develop our own system for leading that we practice putting to work each day.
A System For Leading
When former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs, Rob Kaplan, joined the faculty at Harvard Business School, he began by asking a basic question—
What is leadership?
He had spent his career as an advisor to leaders, and as a leader, yet, to him, it was crucial that he begin with a clear definition of what it means to lead.
That took him on an enormous exploration into the field of leadership, yet most of us don’t need to go anywhere near that deep.
In our consulting firm, we define leading very simply as—
Processes and skills that you put to work daily in leading yourself and others.
Your system for leading is the way you capture these ideas so you can easily put them to work each day.
One of our clients is a boutique advisory business with less than 50 top employees.
They’ve built a crack team of highly driven athletes and the founders want a very simple approach to leading that fosters the culture they are building.
They don’t need reams of leadership practices, only a simple and effective approach that best works for them and their team.
Together we are building their system for leading using these four steps that you can easily put to work yourself:
1. Decide your Leadership Philosophy
In building their custom approach, we have adapted models from the books Radical Candor, Extreme Ownership, One Minute Manager, and others we like.
2. Design the Process that Fits
For example, if you have a leadership philosophy based on rapid, candid feedback and praise, then you want a process of giving immediate feedback, and then moving on.
If you have another leadership philosophy, such as the passive-aggressive one you see in most professional jobs, you do “reviews” every 6-12 months 🙂
3. Decide the Skills you Need to Enhance
Like driving a car, leading is a skill that gets better with practice.
You want to get clear on the skills that matter most to your leading and build a systematic way to develop them. e.g. Mastering yours and other peoples time. Mastering influencing yourself and others. And so on
4. One-page Output
If you can’t boil down your system for leading into one page, then you want to keep refining. Make it so simple and effective that you can easily explain it to others and put it to work every day