I am not a leadership expert. I am a leadership activist. So what the hell does that mean?


Expert is a term generally applied to someone who claims to to know something you don't know…

An activist makes things happen!

I've realized that for my work to be effective, it's my responsibility to learn everything I can about my audience or my client and to leave most of my presumptions behind.

Now I’m not trying to establish plausible deniability here. Over the past 30 years or so I’ve learned a thing or two about how to be an effective leader. I’m glad to share those things with you. I’m simply acknowledging the truth…

You don’t become an effective leader by listening to a lecture––and I refuse to be in the lecture business.

My greatest value to you is to work together with you to explore, support and cultivate your growth and development as a leader. This is truly a process of discovery and evolution––and that takes both of us. ALL of us!

This is why I’m committing to being an activist rather than an expert…

We’re drowning in experts and choking on research.

This is not to disparage the experts or discredit the research––both are extremely important and have done great work to expand our understanding of leadership. The plain fact is that at some point we’ve got to burn the books and get to work!

What the experts and the research confirms that what we need now is activism––not more research!

I hate semantic marketing games. Changing a title seldom does anything to change the nature of one’s job. It is with sincere trepidation and reluctance that I’m adopting this description of my work.

It’s just that after all this soul searching I can’t find a better term that tells you exactly what I do––and more important, what I’m going to help you do.

The sad fact is that despite monumental and well-intended efforts, the experts in the leadership world have failed––miserably. We seem stuck on a merry-go-round of characteristics, styles, methods and systems––and yet the statistics are horrifying.

A 2016 Harvard Business School report found that only 7% of businesses consider their leadership development program “Best In Class,” meaning they’re getting the results they want. About half reported their programs are excellent in some areas, but need improvement in others.

The remaining 43% say they need significant improvements––or they’re just plain under-performing. If we accept the Ohio State Studies of the 1940s as the beginning of modern leadership study, this leaves us with a pretty poor performance record after some 80 years of serious scientific, academic and practical effort.

Why?

Admiral Grace Hopper said "You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership.” She really hit the nail on the head!

I am an activist in these key areas:

Human-centric leadership…​

As the Admiral said, you lead people. Thankfully there is a growing movement to restore and expand humanity in leadership. That is my core commitment.

Also as the Admiral pointed out, our emphasis has been on management. Management is important. We need to manage many “things” in this ever more complex world. We also need to remember that people do the managing! If we don’t take care of our people, there’s damn little chance they’re going to manage anything effectively.

Human-centric leadership is leadership with Courage, Compassion and Wisdom. It means servant leadership––committed to the welfare and benefit of others. It means to Inspire, Empower and Guide others to their very best.

I commit myself to be a champion for human-centric leadership.

Leadership at ALL levels…

Leadership is not limited to or defined by rank, title or position of authority. In fact, there are plenty of people with authority who are lousy leaders. There are also remarkable leaders on the front lines who have no title or position of authority––and don’t want one!

Leadership should not be exclusive to any particular group, level or class. It should not be extraordinary––it should be an expectation and a universal responsibility.

I commit myself to advocate for leadership development at all levels––for every individual willing to embrace that responsibility and especially those inspired by the opportunity––regardless of their ambitions for rank, title or position.

Authentic leadership…

This is not just about “being yourself.” If you’re a jerk, being yourself is certainly not going to make you a trusted, respected or effective leader!

This is about doing the right thing. This means standing up to corruption and abuse. It means challenging unethical leadership head-on. It means doing right even when it’s not comfortable, convenient, expedient or profitable.

It’s about genuine transparency and fairness. And it means holding anyone in a position of authority to these standards.

Most of all, it’s about sincere self-awareness. And that is an ongoing and often challenging, painful and frustrating but absolutely essential discipline.

It also means being authoritative without being authoritarian. It’s about recognizing the line between the leader and the dictator.

The dictator imposes control through fear, force and coercion. The authentic leader is someone with the ability to attract WILLING followers––and the will to serve them.

This is the true servant leader. This is someone who leads by example, not by force.

I commit myself to actively support, cultivate and develop this type of leader.

The age of command and control leadership is over.

Look at statistics for employee engagement––or for approval ratings for political leaders worldwide. Those are the leaders of the past.

The research is telling us clearly what people want, and what type of leader inspires the creativity, productivity and high levels of performance we need today. The experts have given us the tools and the insights that confirm what we need to do.

It’s time for the activists.

It’s time to join this movement to cultivate authentic, human-centric leaders at all levels. It’s time to evolve this type of leader in ourselves, and develop this type of leader in others…

These leaders are our future.

#leadership #leadershipdevelopment #THESENSEILEADER #activist #JimBouchard

© 2019 by Black Belt Mindset Productions and Jim Bouchard