Leadership cannot be granted, inherited, or learned from a book or class... it must be actively earned in full view while overcoming challenges.
Let's challenge my above assertion for a moment.
To grant... to give. How can something so intangible and substantive as leadership be given to someone. If you assume the grantor is legitimately in possession of leadership, there is nothing to grant but perhaps a desire to anoint a successor. How often is the successor worthy in the eyes of the witnesses? Most of us have seen this show, and wanted to leave the theater.
We argue that the only method for a successor to establish a position of leadership is to earn it. Granting it is impossible.
To inherit... to receive or be left with. If you think in terms of the most familiar condition, an inheritance as passed down from a parent to a child, can you think of a more invalid method for defining a leader? Sure, there's examples where the children of great leaders were also accomplished leaders. It is unfortunately rare, and it certainly isn't a method that will be blindly accepted in modern society.
In many cases, an heir has a steeper challenge than someone being granted something. Inheritance is in no way a guarantee of leadership.
Books & Classes. Great ways to learn, for sure. Does someone learning something bestow leadership upon them. No. It is nonsensical to connect them. There is no cause and effect whatsoever. Many people attain great knowledge and do absolutely nothing with it. Others demonstrate amazing leadership without advanced schooling or knowledge. The response to the 2017 hurricane Harvey sums up that point. Amazing acts of courage and leadership under tremendous adversity.
As I regularly discuss with customers and prospects, ancient peoples (long before language, cities, and “management”) learned the first lesson of human leadership… TRUST.
How was this possible without verbal or written language, without books and professors, without seminars and conferences, without radio and television, without the internet for goodness sakes!?
Trust was learned by the ancients through witnessing the actions of others. Their actions inspired trust when they helped others collect or kill for food, survive attack, build weapons, locate water, create shelter or clothing, travel in the right direction, etc., etc.
Trust cannot be read about and made to happen. It still MUST be lived… shared... experienced.
When we developed our disruptive leadership program, we had no delusions about classrooms, experts, or soon-to-become shelfware leadership reference "manuals". We knew what few others seem to recognize, leadership has to be earned through action. Yes, the US Special Forces can prove that.
So, as you can see from the graphic associated with this post, there are stark and significant differences in the conventional methods of leadership development used by almost the entire management industry. It should be no surprise that leadership program ROI has seemed so elusive and inconsistent for so long.
It is not our aim to discredit the amazing range of leadership academia and intellectual property put forth by so many of the great minds, such as Drucker, Covey, Maxwell, and others. This material is deep, substantive, and necessary for anyone seriously interested in developing leadership skills.
Stephen Covey literally changed my life when he published 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was published early in my professional career, and it resonated deeply. It contains deep, watershed content. However, it would have had no value in my life and career had I not taken it's suggestions seriously and acted upon them.
And my actions alone did not qualify me to be a leader. The results of my actions, being witnessed by others, influencing others, and in (thankfully) many cases being accepted by others is what bestowed some level of leadership upon me. I remain humble in the face of past, current, and future decisions knowing that leadership growth is a slow and gradual slope up, while leadership destruction can be sudden and immediate. It is why our program is built upon numerous actionable events, to create a range of witnessed actions, reactions, and moments of success to share. This is simply not possible in a classroom.
Our focus is on the faulty premise that leadership that is read about, listened to, and learned by conventional (ie. seated passively) means in a classroom demonstrates leadership. It absolutely does not. It may... someday. But, even if the knowledge gained from such programs is eventually put into action, it is likely to be executed inconsistently, over a long period of time... a years-long, slow-release process.
In today's era, where human resources of every level are expected to learn immediately, adjust to change in real time, work with people they've never seen or met (remote), and deal with advancing technology without error, the need to rethink how we build great teams is long overdue.
If your organization could send a team of people to a program for a few days and have them collectively gain the following attributes of success... in a heartbeat, wouldn't you?
- build durable, lasting bonds of trust
- learn the benefits of intense focus
- greatly improve their relationships
- boost their creativity and innovation
- increase their belief in self and their teammates
- realize the productive traits of living fearlessly
- see future challenges as opportunity
These benefits are not only achievable but sustainable. Our customers call their experiences transformative and life-changing. The ROI is multiplicative when you consider this set of benefits occurring for every member of the same team.
We've written a brief 10-page guide to help you understand the method you've been using to develop leaders can be supplemented, or in some cases, replaced by a far more efficient (1-time, 1-place for the target group) and effective approach.
Greatness demands action. Register to receive your free copy of our eBook How to Develop Real Leaders.