Chapter 3How to Lead

LIKE SO MUCH HACKNEYED BUSINESS JARGON IN the dictionary that drives the language of our corporate conversations, the word “leader” has suffered a heap of abuse that's left it swimming in misuse and misunderstanding. Hey, congratulations! You're a great individual contributor! How about being a leader of others? Along with this promotion, the specialist is often removed from a role in which she thrived and deposited in a role for which the training is in short supply and the path to learning leadership skills is characterized by self-discovery alone.

Leadership is sexy, looks great, and certainly brings more money home than the alternative. Egos get stroked at the top of the monkey bars, and the perks of such a charmed life all sound pretty appealing. So the individual contributor says yes to the new appointment. Now comes the challenge. Too many leaders have gotten stuck in the egoistic aspects of the term, so reveling in a lifetime's pursuit of the title of “playground lord” that they've lost sight of the other participants in the arrangement. Because if there's a leader, there are—necessarily—also followers. A leader with no one to lead is not a leader at all. A bully boss is no longer in vogue (if they ever were). Moreover, that is not a leader at all but, rather more likely, a future problem. The new leader is CEO of her unit and is armed with workforce analytics on her employees. She has evidence-based data on how to understand the drives and motivations ...

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