The Leader’s Journey

The journey of leadership is like a the climbing of a mountain. In the beginning, the landscape is familiar and we have the company of others. As we continue to climb, we expend the effort to pull ourselves to greater heights from which we see the world from an elevated perspective. During this climb, we are tested to summon the internal courage to persevere. Each step, we leave the comfortable and familiar to a new vista and to new surroundings which test our resolve. As we climb higher, we find ourselves more and more alone but closer and closer to the understanding of our true self.

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” 
Sir Edmund Hillary

Flipping Your Leadership Paradigm

Each of us has an implicit leadership theory, a mental model we are largely unaware of, that represents the skills, traits, and qualities that define effective leaders. Some of our beliefs about leadership are so common and accepted as true that challenging them is counterintuitive, yet they can limit organizational effectiveness and they can limit us. For example, at the core of most models of leadership lies the premise that knowledge is the foundation for leading effectively – the more the leader knows about goal setting, strategy, and change management, the more effective he or she will be. This implicit leadership theory – leadership equated with a person in charge who has answers – is pervasive.  It is the way most of us think about leadership. We learned to think this way from our superiors and role models. This way of thinking about and exercising leadership happens without much conscious intent and thus is difficult to challenge or even discuss. It has become woven seamlessly into the fabric of our culture. Challenging our taken for granted views about leadership creates the possibility of showing up every day as a more authentic version of ourselves. Check it out on your inward journey. Enjoy the articles below.

  • Rethinking Leadership Development (link) We need more effective ways of developing others to lead.  
  • The Science of Leading Yourself (link) Leadership begins on the inside. Leading oneself is a uniquely human activity—studying it and how it works is essential to tackling the world’s most vexing issue.
  • Challenging your Implicit Leadership Theory (link) Challenging our taken for granted assumptions and beliefs about is key to our leadership effectiveness.
  • Health Care Transformation Begins with You (link) Leaders recognize that transformation begins with them. It’s an inside job.
  • Hittability: The Leader’s Edge (link) What does hittability have to do with leadership and baseball? Check it out.
  • Leading Again for the First Time (link) We must change the way we make sense of leadership – what it is and how we make it happen. This new way of thinking must come from the inside. When we make this shift, for most of us it will be like leading again for the first time.

Flipping your leadership paradigm

Challenging your implicit leadership theory

Leadership and hitability: A Ted Williams story

Language: Our most powerful gift

We generally think of language as a tool for communicating with one another.  If we both speak the same language, we should be able understand and contribute to our conversation. But language serves another key function. It is the channel which grants us access to our various subworlds – for example, the world of medicine, the world of politics, the world of sports, the world of opera.  As our society becomes more specialized, and in some sense more fragmented, new vocabularies have, by necessity, been created and have emerged as new languages. If you don’t speak the language of molecular genetics, it is essentially impossible to communicate, perform, and innovate in that domain. It would be like going to another country that spoke a completely different language – you would be lost. Below are six articles on language – especially as it relates to leadership – in scientific journals into which you may wish to dig.

  • The Language of Leadership (Link) – highlights the importance of language in creating the world we live in and think about. 
  • The Language of Discovery (Link) – examines the unique property of language to bring forth, out of the unspoken realm, new knowledge, original ideas, and novel thinking – the essence of discovery. 
  • Leadership and the Limitations of Language (Link) – reviews the limitations of language to include its inability to fully capture reality and its inevitable role in shaping our many different views of the world.
  • The Thrown Leader (Link) – leaders inescapably find themselves “thrown” into difficult circumstances; how they deal with them is what matters. 
  • Leaders as Distinction Generators (Link) – Distinctions, which are linguistic in nature, are crucial communication vehicles because they can open up new ways of seeing the world. 
  • How Effective Leaders Harness the Future (Link) – Our story about the future we are living into becomes the “narrative frame” through which we see and tackle our leadership challenges today. 

Language, more than just a communication vehicle

Meaning and Purpose

“No need is so compelling,” said futurist and strategic thinker Willis Harman, “as the need we all feel for our lives to make sense, to have meaning. We will tolerate almost any degree of austerity or risk in this indomitable quest for meaning.” We long to put our ideals and values into practice – to “put them to work,” so to speak.  We seek an understanding of our world that gives us purpose and dignity. Work serves as a vehicle in which our lives make sense and can be expressed. Virtually every culture, race, and tribe looks to its fundamental core values as the ultimate source of deep-seated purpose and meaning. Whether we acknowledge it or not, the allure of this ultimate truth appeals to each of us. In the final analysis, most people draw on this truth in making moral and ethical choices.

Albert Einstein was once allegedly asked: If you could ask God one question, what would it be? Einstein promptly replied that he would ask God how the universe was created; with that information he could calculate all the mathematical equations that went into the process. Upon further thought, however, Einstein changed his mind – he would ask why the universe was created. He would then understand the meaning and purpose of his life.

  • The Search for Meaning and Purpose (Link) – How do we experience meaning and purpose at work when our deepest convictions are under fire?
  • Beyond Better, Faster, Cheaper (Stay tuned, will post soon!)
  • Leadership Values in Academic Medicine (Link) – The rise of for-profit medicine has introduced a dynamic tension between humanistic values and performance-based, profit-oriented values.
  • Leadership in Action (Link) – Read about the inward journey of four great leaders and how they took a stand.
  • The Dream: A Leadership Fable (Link) – How do we reawaken Humanity’s collective consciousness so that we can tackle the colossal social issues that confront us and build a better future?

Leadership Videos

Connecting with others is a leadership must

The dangers of leadership

Why did you get a “B” on that test?

A story of Jack and Jill

Taking a stand: A Ted Williams story

Reinventing yourself: A Dick Fosbury Story

(More Resources Posted Soon)

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No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders. So the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You, must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.

~ Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader