Monday, August 06, 2012

Leadership Mechanics

I want to start a new series today on a topic that's been rattling around in my head for a few years now. I want to talk about leadership, but in a new way.

There are hundreds of leadership books from successful CEOs, and thousands more from coaches, trainers, and leadership theorists. These are great books - I started reading many of them at a pretty young age, and much of what I understand about great leadership comes from that study.

However, what these books rarely get into is the real working day-to-day mechanics of leadership at all levels of an organization.

A leadership book from a successful CEO usually betrays the luxury of being, in most cases, the final decision-making authority. A CEO's leadership can impact thousands of people, and it is, without a doubt, a very challenging leadership role, but the lessons learned in that context don't necessarily translate to many more common types of leadership roles.

The theorists and coaches provide great longitudinal review of what works in a variety of situations - working with leaders across many organizations and roles allows them to extrapolate nicely and find useful patterns. However, I find the coaches' perspective frequently to be hollow - you can tell that their narrative is a report from what they have seen, not a first-hand account of visceral, gut-wrenching experience.

And neither group tends to report on the very tactical aspects of leadership. For example, we can all say that listening is an important leadership skill, but what are the mental habits you build to ensure that you are listening to all those around you?

So today I want to start a series on what I'm going to call Leadership Mechanics - the nitty gritty, nuts and bolts details of what I have observed great leaders doing day in and day out, and what I have adopted in my own leadership. More than anything, my goal is to start some conversation about the key habits that great leaders use in their everyday work, digging beyond the platitudes that

For the ten of you that read this blog, I hope you enjoy it, I hope it expands your thinking a bit, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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