Statistically, CEOWORLD magazine subscribers read four to five books a month. There are 20,000 printed books on leadership. Most make a yeoman’s effort to define leadership. Often contrasting this with management.

Then, to add value to the fun read, confuse the core of “leadership” with the holy grail of profit: success. My definition of this below.

Readers of CEOWORLD magazine have probably read a lot about it.

I started decades ago; more recently while writing these pieces. Many definitions remain merchant-counter-circular: if you want to go left, you have to turn left.

Readers of CEOWORLD magazine and this composition have long been fed up with leaders versus managers, visionaries versus machines executing their visions, leadership by example/fear/autocracy/benevolence/letting it go. make/the charisma/the checkbook… and a truck full of “musts” and “essentials”.

Except when leaders “just don’t get it.”

Often, despite numerous reports of superbly educated and skilled “management”, leaders are faced with: sometimes things that don’t make sense, just don’t make sense. It’s a compelling inflection point that separates the proverbial wheat from the chaff in defining leadership: the quintessential opposite of homogenization. True leaders conclude: the must be something we just don’t know. Still.

Then they pursue at least two of my four pillars of success:

  1. Never take failure as an option.
  2. Do exhausting homework. Be a shameless researcher.

More on my “pillars” below.

72 things a leader is not.

If this piece were devoid of salient thoughts presented anecdotally, it wouldn’t be my writing.

A few years ago, being somewhat drug phobic and having witnessed the human tragedy of substance abuse and addiction, I added a one day substance abuse seminar to the mandatory management development curriculum for the 140 best “leaders” and managers of our company. The company was gradually approaching five hundred million dollars in revenue; directed to a profitable billion.

I hired a universally recognized expert in the United States on drug addiction. We spent a day talking. The next day we started with the company’s thirteen senior executives gathered in a conference room. My lengthy introduction focused on his preeminent credentials and the benefits our company and we, individually, will derive from his wisdom.

The participants introduced themselves: something about their professional background, their work and their personal life.

Our speaker began with, “Thank you Steve for the kind words and nice to meet you all.” After a long pause, he looked around with deliberate hesitation and said, “Four people in this room are drug addicts.”

You would think that people at this level of leadership and senior management would be good at not squirming in their seats! Having been prompted beforehand by our speaker, and confirming with him what I thought I had seen afterwards, I learned a relevant lesson in leadership.

In fact, two lessons. First, on a critical observation: make it an intellectual process that’s not entirely visceral.

So: Know what you know! You know what you are: now be all that. As my brilliant and equally insufferable intellectual snob father said, “If you can’t do it well, leave someone who can!” Maybe I was out of diapers the first time I heard that.

Without parenthesis, two people out of the thirteen referenced died of drug addiction in the space of three years.

A few years after that addiction journey, I thought about leveraging what I observed — in terms of process — to learn a lot about leadership. Specifically, take advantage of smart, seasoned leaders to whom I presented my leadership white paper titled 72 things a leader is not. Full disclosure: All of my reading up to this point has led me to realize how little I know about leadership.

“72” things were deliberately too broad. All the visible discomfort and “wiggles” certainly qualified the “72” as to its value/relevance. And reported a lot about the attendees.

As I traveled the next few million lifetimes and ‘real’ miles, I encountered a trickle of people who I thought were indeed ‘leaders’. They helped me distill “72” down to a handful of ON leaders. I admit to having struggled with these definitions ever since.

Thus, my subsequent talks entitled Leader Of The Day.

Finish the old, make way for the new. – Nancy RobardsThompsonalmost 20 years ago.

New concept, a bit nonsense about leadership.

Living in our world of data onslaught at breakneck speed and mind-boggling volume leads to the abandonment of the fundamentals of prudent leadership.

Makes fear of becoming a traffic accident on the freeway with no speed limit of perceived progress.

Do true leaders think: We are not going to make THIS better and bigger. Instead, do what is “hot”! Diversify away from our core competencies. Yes: we will do it better than the behemoths which preceded us and which so powerfully failed. Let’s go ahead with [unwise] intemperance.

Destined to become talented beginners forever, doing what the children of the day are already doing.

You are leaders par excellence! You’ve read all about people like you everywhere. You may have heard lectures on this in school, from mentors, co-workers, super-smart consultants. You are visionaries. Ordinary management is not for you.

I wonder about vision without carefully defined and managed goals. Have you tried to dream your way to success? How about fully delegating your path to success?

An authentic AND successful leader today must have vision. Superior and classic management skills. Set ambitious but achievable goals. If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? A leader must chart the course towards these goals, create the matrices for decision-making and data analysis, stay in control. Delegate wisely.

If a leader ignores the above, “the company” may not recognize what it has achieved, where it has failed or failed.

The topic of CEOWORLD magazine that this article discusses is Leadership (people management) and success.

Success is the holy grail of leadership. Success is a complex paradigm. Unique for individuals, groups of people, populations, ethnicities, economics, geopolitics, and business specific. Success is often driven by necessity rather than choice. I humbly say that leaders would benefit from reading, if not fully adopting my Four pillars of success.

Notes from the cliff

  1. EMBRACE AND USE THE MOST IMPORTANT WORD IN LIFE AND BUSINESS. THE OPTIONS:

    ∙ FREE
    Everyone in advertising has been told by the uber-brains that FREE is the most important word in advertising. Perhaps when Aaron Montgomery created the first direct mail catalog, and throughout the 20th century.
    Every offer now has a “FREE”. When everything is free, nothing is free! FREE has no value. It is just baked into whatever is sold.

    . NOPE
    You’ve all heard life scientists explain that “NO” is the most important word. Frankly, I don’t really know what life scientists are. I expect these people to be graduates, just like the basket weavers.

    Often “NO” is an ordinary proverbial loophole.

    ∙ YES
    The only option for those who seek success and are willing to take action and take risks to achieve it. Leaders. It is the ‘YES’ who bravely step forward while most are looking for reasons to say ‘NO’.

    “YES” people know that if you are afraid of wolves, better not walk in the forest! The business forest is inhabited by all kinds of wolves.

    “YES” people grow in this forest when they see opportunities. Opportunities they can:
    – quantify the potential
    – qualify downward commitments

    Then put on their big girl or boy skirts and pants, and walk up the trees to the ray of light they see, and start believing.

  2. NEVER TAKE FAILURE AN OPTION
    ∙ It is stupid to concede defeat.
    ∙ It is much easier to fail than to succeed.

    Leaders understand that all successful people fail, often and repeatedly. Sometimes dramatically. What they all have in common is that their failures are never due to a lack of effort or belief. Rather: something just conceptually beyond their reach.

    Churchill had this one on point: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to carry on that counts.”

    In my opinion, there are three options in life and business: lead, follow or exit.

    Go out?
    What exactly is the point of that?
    It is foolish to concede defeat before you even start anything.
    ∙ It is much easier to fail than to succeed.

    Follow?
    Just get into the flow? Being ordinary is the path to darkness.

    Conduct!
    The most elegant way to lead in life and business is to be a thought leader. To influence what people think. More importantly, how they think! It’s the holy grail of leadership!

  3. HOMEWORK. COMPREHENSIVE DUTIES.
    ∙ How much homework? Not enough! And when you’re done, make more!
    ∙ Being an unabashed researcher fits exceptionally well with most people’s willingness, if not eagerness, to share their knowledge and help.
    ∙ Afterwards, there is no substitute for wisdom on the firing line.
  4. OUT-WORK AND OUT-THINK EVERYONE.
    ∙ Out-think? This is rarely, if ever possible!
    ∙ Out of work? It’s possible. That you must try!

More “when we meet”.


Written by Steven J. Manning.
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