MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS | 2018 EDITION | VOLUME 108
There's a Sudanese proverb that says: “When the monkey can't reach the ripe banana with his hand, he says it is not sweet.” And that's perhaps the easiest way to substantively focus on the wisdom of Dan Peña and leave the noise and fault-finding to petty, weak-minded or nonstrategic losers.
Next-level performers sometimes come in the form of the plague itself or whatever one dreads. And yet, precisely that, is why there's a 'Leadership Manifesto' built into discussions like this one, further below.
His global warming denialism, brash, potty mouth successful entrepreneurism summarizes the 4th Rule Highly Effective People Live By. And flaws and all, worthy of study. 4th what, you ask?
You'll understand momentarily. But highly effective people CAN listen to, survive, 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.
So while Chinese millionaires and billionaires have jovially argued that Steve Job's wouldn't thrived have made it in CCP-ruled China, 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 supported by Robert Greene's book is something like this: 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”.