I believe everyone can be a leader regardless of personality or background. Leadership isn’t for a lucky few; it’s for those who practice the micro-skills of getting people on their side and keeping them there.
It’s an interesting exercise to think about how people catch their “big break.” Usually we think of “big breaks” as cases of pure luck. It’s easy to think that a person only begins to “make it” after being in the right place at the right time.
But that’s hardly the case as MediaBistro’s series, My First Big Break, illustrates. Success isn’t simply built on luck, it’s built on hard work, tenacity, and humility.
The series asks six big names in journalism how they “made it” and their stories are interesting, exciting, and illuminating.
Luck plays a role in a lot of these examples, but each person profiled worked hard to capitalize on their good fortune. Luck fell into the their laps, but they did something with it.
Catching a “big break” is more about the work you put into it–not the luck.
You can write, you can teach, you can lecture, you can train, but in the final analysis the test of your ideas is in the hands of the practitioners.
At this point in my career the highest point of flattery is to hear someone say, “Your leadership model works,” “It makes a difference,” or “It’s of some use.”
On top of that, having put such emphasis on the micro-political skills as an essential aspect of leadership, what is especially flattering is to have a real world political leader make use of my leadership perspective.
Representative Mike Hubbard (R), has been a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for three terms and been elected the Speaker for the house this past year—a title that hasn’t been given to a Republican since Reconstruction.
Hubbard knows that leadership isn’t just about proposing big ideas, putting forth grand visions, and relying on charisma to get out of tight spots. He knows that leaders have to get things done and execute on agendas to get and maintain a leadership position.
The Change Leadership course that I authored for eCornell focuses on these skills—the skills of execution, the skills of mobilizing, and the skills of the moving agendas ahead. The course is a departure from typical leadership literature and doesn’t focuses on personality traits, but instead on the micro strategies of moving things forward within organizations.
Mike Hubbard had a chance to take the Change Leadership with eCornell and solidified his leadership traits and used them to push his change agendas.
Thank you Mike for the highest form of flattery—relevance.
Below are Hubbard’s thoughts on the Change Leadership course:
Fighting for what you believe in is part of leadership. Getting people’s attention is part of convincing the world that you should have the opportunity to lead. But is there a limit? Can you actually go too far in your attempts to become a leader? A relative unknown and a big-time underdog by the name of Dan Adler is running for Congress in California’s 36th District. Bold and sometimes odd campaign commercials are nothing new, but Mr. Adler’s latest ad is not only a bit strange but according to some is also teetering on the edge of bad taste. I would try to explain the commercial, but I believe this is one of those instances where justice cannot be done with words. Please watch the video below (trust me, it’s worth it!) and then let me know if you think this political ad is just an enjoyable bit of farce or in fact offensive. For full disclosure, I happen to be 1/4 Korean and I find it hilarious.
If you are at all curious about the invisible flow of on-line information you need to see and hear this TED talk by Eli Pariser. It will make you take a second look at the Internet and your place within the new world it is shaping.
Oh and I should also note that I stumbled across this video in my Facebook feed today. Trust me, after you watch the video this seemingly minor bit of information will become much more than just a personal aside.
The people at oBizMedia have made a nice video / infographic that asks: what would the world look like without Facebook?
They conclude that in a cruel, Facebook-less, world we would not have an easy way to share pictures with our friends. Nor would we have an effortless way to invite friends to parties.
Thank goodness for Mark Zuckerberg and co.
oBizMedia does a better job dressing up interesting Facebook facts. Did you know that the average Facebook user uploads around 90 things a month? That means that the 600 million Facebook users are happily plugging information into Facebook three times a day on average.
Chew on the numbers presented and get ready to marvel at the giant that is Facebook. It will be interesting to see if Facebook can sustain the momentum without alienating existing users.
What happened to GM? It used to be said that “what’s good for GM is good for America” (actually, it was a rather arrogant former CEO of GM who said it but I don’t have the time to mythbust). Of course, now it seems that GM is just symptomatic of everything that has gone wrong with America over the past 50 years. Is there a chance things at GM could turn around? Is there a chance they can re-learn all the leadership lessons they once taught the world? In what I think is an incredibly detailed, informative and concise video, Fortune’s senior editor at large Alex Taylor III not only breaks down the last 50 years at GM and also gives us a peek into what might be a much brighter future.
Leadership is not all about getting your company into the Fortune 500 or selling the most widgets. At its heart, Leadership is about becoming aware of what needs to be done and doing it. It’s about helping those in need of guidance to overcome obstacles and ultimately succeed. It’s about knowing that nothing will get done unless someone takes on the responsibilities of leadership. In many cases, leadership is not just a matter of profits and year-end bonuses, it’s about living and dying. Jon Bul Dau, one of Sudan’s famed Lost Boys, just might be the perfect example of a true leader. A person who has taken it upon himself to lead because a leader was needed. This powerful and challenging clip from the 2006 award winning documentary God Grew Tired of Us which focuses on Dau, just might be the perfect example of leadership on its most elemental level.
When speaking of leadership we often talk about vision and passion, and the dramaturgy of presentation. But more important than any of these, is a well articulated sense of sincerity. In the final analysis, leadership is about personal credibility. It’s about your ability to convey to people not only the feeling of “been there done that” but also a sense of being able to convey to people that you have:
• Positional Authority: That you speak from a place that gives you the right to talk to the issue
• Personal Integrity: That you are speaking beyond self interest
• Expertise and Knowledge: That you really know what you’re talking about
• Time and Opportunity: That you know that this is the right time and right arena to speak to the issue
“In order to establish personal credibility, you must use language and personal presentation. How do you let others know, without shoving it down their throat, that you are credible? What language should you use to initiate a supportive response? Keep in mind that if you become overbearing, it is unlikely that you’ll develop deep support. If you try to make yourself credible simply based on your position, you’ll be viewed as confusing power for credibility. If you constantly try to push your personal integrity, you may be quickly dismissed as wallowing self righteousness and will become an irresistible target for cynics. If you overplay your hand by maintaining that you have the needed expertise, you may be written off as arrogant. Finally, if you claim to be credible because you are at the right place at the right time and have a sense of urgency, you may be viewed as being frantic. Try to communicate a balanced picture of credibility. Let them know about your expertise and knowledge, show them your personal integrity, hint about your positional authority, and remind them that you are at the right place at the right time. Most important, don’t overplay any single factor and communicate with self-assured subtlety.”
No matter what your position is regarding gay marriage, a wonderful example of the practice of leadership through the language of integrity may be seen in a video I stumbled across the other day featuring an impressive young man by the name of Zack Wahls. Take a few minutes and watch and listen to Zack and see how he truly personifies leadership and the language of integrity.