Chapter 5Leadership Is a Decision—Make It

One of the very first questions I asked you to think about at the beginning of this field guide was: What has shaped you to be the leader you are today?

Take a minute right now to go back to the book's Introduction and review what you wrote.

When I ask leaders this question, many are surprised by it. Most don't have a good answer. But after they spend some time thinking about the question, ideas begin to emerge. In the end, most leaders realize how key experiences have played an important role in shaping them.

One of my favorite leadership thinkers, Warren Bennis, wrote in his book On Becoming a Leader that “Leaders, whatever their field, are made up as much of their experiences as their skills.” His later research would reveal the importance of what he termed “crucible experiences”—defining moments that shape the way individuals think about their leadership and how they lead.

Unfortunately, few leaders are clear on how these important experiences and events in their lives have shaped them.

For example, consider that bad manager you may have worked for early in your career. What impact did he have on you? Or think about that truly great leader you worked for; what impact did she have on you? Recall a time when you faced a significant challenge at work that you somehow figured out how to overcome. What about a time when you may have failed? Or that peak career experience you may have had with a team when you delivered outstanding results? ...

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