MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS | 2018 EDITION | VOLUME 124
When asked “so how to practice leadership in my everyday life” I gave a concise and detailed answer: Whether in sports, the army, office, or in politics, lazy thinkers never learn a thing about leadership.
Study leadership holistically. That is, the good, the bad, the ugly, or ruthless to optimally understand human nature and optimally lead yourself and others. Or you become a lazy thinker echoing the views of friends, celebrities, fake influencers, leaders, cult fans, marketing tricksters, or well-meaning but weak-minded netizens clamoring for fragile egos to be massaged with a like, retweet, a subscription, or follow. Remember: The positions, connections, “charity” or “foundations” of famous people don't make them genuine leaders. Just ask the “Trump Foundation” or Mueller Probe.
Never be fooled by lazy soundbites either. All of that has nothing to do with leadership.
Leadership is born out of conviction and service. Not mob/herd mentality, Party affiliation or political calculus. Indeed without self-awareness one can't be a leader, because before team development, is SELF development. And from entrepreneurs trying to make a quick buck to decorated personalities or executives waxing eloquent about leadership because they have books to sell or paid TV or radio gigs and speakerships yet conspicuously silent on controversial issues that matter, the late Dr. Munroe was correct in pointing out that: “Most people we call leaders are actually professional manipulators.”To competently develop your leadership skills — a daily vocation — understand, as I pointed out in my 2-part Strategic Deception in Leadership series that the era of naïve leadership is over. Like it or not, the ‘situational ethics and moral relativism’ of Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's ilk currently runs the world. And in studying it to beat it, remember to keep your voice.
At a very basic level, there's What's in it for me leadership as practiced by such men. But then there's genuine, ethical, public service-driven leadership. See my Leadership Manifesto further below.
Both of these styles are capable of pragmatism. Don't be fooled into believing otherwise. Except, as the CCP's well-documented model, Putin model, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or even Dubai's Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum model demonstrates, one creates a repressed society ruled by fear and repression. For a people, however rich, are enslaved when even the Princess is unsafe.
The other creates a civil, yet vibrant society. Think Switzerland, New Zealand, and Nordic nations. Not USA. For as Chris Hedges (see bottom of page) powerfully captures, the façade of democracy and “inverted totalitarianism” that fake leaders/tyrants embody is now American, with Trump in denial:
Moreover, vintage, visionary, highly resourceful, results-driven, strategic preeminence, next-level leadership as well as 360° unconventional yet evolved leadership or entrepreneurship management and business IQ though rare, solves complex problems without oppressing people, or collateral political and national security damage. Which is why I teach both the Leadership Series, AND Advanced Personal Leadership Series, currently in X-phase including extended Keys To A Healthy Ego series — because business and customer success prefers ego minimization — as well as, ruthless efficiency principles, as taught by Dan Peña. Balanced by my Leadership Manifesto below.
And while Dan Peña's global warming denialism, brash, potty mouth successful entrepreneurism rubs many the wrong way, as I hinted above: You're not going to learn anything about leadership nor do you deserve to be a leader if you insist on inertia, complacency, being a lazy thinker, a weak-minded leader. Indeed Europe, Japan and America’s power waned, in business, strategic and security spheres as China rose precisely because of timid indecisive leadership of the kind that gave birth to Trumpism and the far-right in Europe.
Evolved leadership IQ is not emotional. Ever rational, high performers CAN listen to, learn from, and whenever necessary, form strategic alliances with people quite unlike them, just to achieve grand strategic goals. Failure to understand why many accomplishments and foreign policy decisions more fitting for an ethical leader and public servant — from North Korea to longstanding issues underlying the current Trade War were left to Donald Trump — a man by all rational accounts still unfit to lead.
Chinese millionaires and billionaires have jovially there's no way Steve Job's would have thrived in CCP-ruled China. And there's a reason I also penned Forget Elon Musk and Study Jeff Bezos instead. Because as a high-performing entrepreneur and leader in these tumultuous times, whereas the considerably larger and easy to verify net worth of Jeff Bezos offers ample proof that the 3 Rules Highly Effective People Live By is enough to deliver success, the 'blowhard' Peña-Trump type 'Quantum Leap Advantage' mindset is a high performance leadership and success alternative survival strategy. One that works particularly well in cutthroat competitive market economies where unlike China for example, making political enemies isn't a concern. Hence, Dan Peña's raw and uncut appeal. After all, who wants to be a called snowflake when we learned in 10 Lessons from the Trump Kim Summit:Both leadership and leadership development have become clichés. Indeed for most in developed countries, no one tells any of the the old guard, up-and-comer or movers and shakers' that being a “well educated” executive is no longer relevant if one can be easily duped in emerging markets in an age where strategy execution is the ultimate IQ. Isn't that after all why Donald Trump's Trade War with China is only now raging on after years of American and Western slumber and complacency in the face of China's strategic intensity and relentlessness? So while from Europe to Latin America, far right fervor seems to be trouncing liberal democratic values, and China exporting high-tech digital censorship globally while Elon Musk turns record profit for Tesla despite a year of bad conduct:There's always room for personal development, process improvement and mutual respect. And if you knowingly decide to work with, or have an intimate relationship of any kind with people content with both lack of curiosity, low Emotional Intelligence and low Listening IQ, you're likely selling your soul and dignity. Even if you're playing the Strategic Deception Game. Indeed as famed leadership and business management consultant Jim Collins aptly put it: “The greatest danger is not failure. The greatest danger is to be successful without understanding WHY you're successful in the first place.” Therein lies the difference between the evolved and uncouth leader. From many corrupt African and other MENA economies to Pakistan, a leader may be propelled to power, sometimes by voters who don't know better—only to discover as economic problems mount—just how almost ungovernable their country is. After all, in the case of Duterte's Philippines for example, foreign aid, anti-Americanism, and endless antics like the “public destruction of contraband luxury vehicles and motorbikes” aren't policies. Not when hiring consummate professionals is ONLY the beginning of solutions. Click image.In a world of spineless cowards in leadership positions, and narcissists exploiting leadership or social media hashtags to make career moves, get ahead, and dubiously promote their personal brand while conveniently remaining silent on matters of injustice and controversy, lack of conviction ultimately weakens winners who lack introspection. Even if, in the short term, it appears they are successfully protecting their interests. Evolved leaders and entrepreneurs seek to inoculate themselves against leadership/tusuccess power traps, while uncouth leaders don't bother. To their eventual detriment.Indeed whatever the fake, toxic, psychopathic, or sociopathic person's derived value, good leadership has nothing to do with rallies, TV ratings, abusing people online, or greedy bottom lines and metrics. In an age of Dutertes, Kim Jong-Uns, Trumps, Putins and Xis, the overwhelming, time-tested evidence discussed in my Strategic Deception Intro & Strategic Deception Mitigation articles can be summed up thusly: The world has seen it all before.
Whether in business, politics or other spheres, true leaders build legacies that outlast them as they adapt to disruptive events. Indeed to be a true leader with conviction and consistency is to embody the Advanced Personal Leadership Principles taught here, comprising my leadership manifesto:
A leader is a stable, tenacious, strategically oriented and highly accountable and disciplined executor, servant and enabler of vision, great ideas, great potential, quality, people and service in a way that ensures sustainability and continued success. (Click for clearer image).
To understand this definition, see in its entirety, the 2012 documentary Jaglavak, Prince of Insects, free on Hulu.
A person is a leader because they readily seize initiative and resourcefully tackle complicated challenges, intimidating, and commonly avoided problems while remaining courageous and wise enough to strategically “quit”, scale down or abort projects & missions.
A person is a leader because as a strategically oriented visionary and lifelong learner who is humble and pragmatic, they bring agility, context, risk management, critical and creative thinking, active listening, excellent communication, networking, human relations and negotiation skills; problem sensitivity, observational skills and an eclectic array of problem-solving skills that include the self-discipline to resist micro-managing and delegate tasks to those more capable.
A person is a leader because they are realists who hone, possess, hire or seek collaboration with those with a preternatural ability to sense and effectively neutralize deception in any power play.
A person is a leader because they absolutely believe in, and consistently demonstrate Respect and Dignity for ALL individuals in the organization or those under their command without Fear, Favoritism, Amnesia, Prejudice, Trickery/Sabotage, Gimmickry/Cowardice and other Manipulative Malice. A person is a leader because their ethical compass, the linchpin of which is fair-mindedness, is crystal clear whatever the context, and importantly, non-negotiable. And therefore, free of corrupt influence. A good leader therefore hires not only for skill but also for attitude so as to maintain an a*shole-free and hence, productive work culture that is more than a breath of fresh air, as is the culture of Google. A person is a leader because whether they are formally in a position of power or not, they foster, advance and passionately execute with good foresight strong ideas that serve the public good, solidify organizational success and cohesion and enhance individual effectiveness in a way that motivates, and is worthy of emulation. And they never feel threatened by another's rise.
A person is a leader because they appreciate that the exemplification of good judgment begins with the courage and self-discipline to do what is right and ethical no matter how unpopular; to protect and serve by refraining from illicit pleasures involving subtle or gross human rights abuses; dehumanizing others; encouraging, applauding, or tolerating the suppression or marginalization of people. Indeed, a good leader understands that failure in this regard actually delegitimizes them. A person is a leader because they view their existence as a calling: to serve, deliver and over-deliver value while enabling others (in the tribe, group, team, organization, country or those under their command) to be as great as they humanly can.
A person is a leader because they are so driven by productivity, efficient use of time and resources and powerful results that they are “close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate”. And it is for this reason that whatever the context, a good leader is unconcerned with, influenced, or intimidated by the status quo, popularity, so-called “superiors”, survivalism, careerism, political correctness, or a FoMO (fear of missing out) syndrome.
A person is a leader because as a fearless, highly accountable and disciplined disruptor, trendsetter or trailblazer, they DO NOT subscribe to mediocrity because as a fearless, highly accountable and disciplined disruptor, trendsetter or trailblazer, they DO NOT subscribe to mediocrity. Their façade-free, 'just the facts, ma'am' disposition wins and builds trust, itself a rare and hard currency in the marketplace of Machiavellian (office) politics and business competition. As such, they tirelessly endeavor to get the balance between Management and Leadership right by getting Emotional and Social Intelligence right. A person is a leader because he/she is a tireless embodiment of true excellence, tenacity and accountability. And in order to be the change agent they are, they must be prepared to deal with C.R.A.P. This is what makes a leader dare greatly, whatever the odds. And finally...
A person is a leader because their readily verifiable actions, body of work and character speak louder than the biased commendation of friend, self proclamations, or bitter accusation of foes. And they thrive on sacrifice and patience that is rare in an age of inattention, knowing that “inventing and pioneering require the willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time”.