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Great Leadership — Starts with Attitude

July 16, 2010

Recently, a FB friend of mine, Dave Williams, posted the following on his wall:

Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration—of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.

I love this because it’s so true.

It speaks to the underlying motivation of being a “true” leader. What I mean is, most people want leadership because they feel it’s a reflection of them, their abilities, their superior skills.  To be a truly effective leader, though, you have to start with heart: you have to realize, it’s not about YOU.

While I work with business leaders and professionals on this subject, it’s when I speak to youth groups, it’s a particularly interesting point to make.  These kids are in a position to strive for future leadership. They want to know who and what they have to be to gain that ultimate “leader” role.  I explain that it’s not a “future” thing — they are in a position, right here, right now, to become the leader they want to be. As Dave points out, it’s attitude. Sure, you grow into being a better leader, but you can’t do that if you don’t open your mind, and open your heart.

Your heart? Yes, your heart.  The best leaders are the ones who realize it’s about inspiring others, allowing others to be their very best.  It’s actually an outward-focused approach, not a “Here, I’m a leader…follow me!” mentality.   As I write in “It’s Not Who You Know, It’s How You Treat Them…

Truly, if you want to stand out and be noticed, you must start first with changing your mindset. It’s too easy to get sucked into the idea that business is a zero-sum game, where you have to fight tooth and claw to get ahead.

This is what we’ve been seeing for decades, and it’s become second-nature. The mentality is, “In order for ME to get ahead, someone else has to get pushed aside.”

The reality is, that only works for a little while. To really make headway as a business leader, you have to reset that attitude…

…Business…consists of interactions between people, not interchangeable “carbon units.” These people have feelings, wants and needs, just as valid as our own. The more adept and comfortable we become in working with those people, no matter what our position, the more we find that success is a natural result.

 And, that goes back to what Dave wrote — “Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes.”  The more human we can be as a leader, the better a leader we will be.  In today’s business climate, it’s too easy to lose our humanity. It’s about results, about goals, about quotas.  It’s less and less about people.  But it should be…in fact it MUST be. What good is “business sucess” if we have to kick and shove people out of the way to achieve it? Oh, sure, there are people who believe it’s about money, power, wealth, fame.  But, at the end of the day, would you rather die rich or die among friends and family who care about you, and know your life made a positive difference?  Most of would say the latter, I’ll bet.

That’s not to say you can’t “do well while doing good.” Don’t get me wrong.  But the point I make is that our “success” depends very much on others and you can either inspire those who work with you and for you and enlist them to be on your side — by treating them well, by showing them respect, valuing their input and experiences — or you can take an alternate path of making it all about YOU and YOUR leadership skills.

One method requires heart; the other requires convincing and maybe even brute force. Which one would you prefer?  A leader has a choice. But it all starts with attitude.

As a quick update, several of you have asked about more info on the book. Download a sample chapter at

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Maria Norcia Santillanes permalink
    July 16, 2010 9:26 am

    This is an excellent blog post and quite inspirational for those who have always understood the emotional intelligence of leadership.

    Thank you for the work you are doing. I can’t wait to read the book.


  2. Andrei permalink
    July 19, 2010 1:26 am

    Wow! now that’s perspective! I think we often react in agreement or disagreement because of our emotions, but hearing another side, passionately presented, really makes us think!

  3. September 17, 2010 8:26 am

    Beautifully put! Although the style of leadership may vary, the quality and ultimate success depends on the same core values and our ability to live them.


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