If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams

What is interesting to note, and often forgotten in an age of “leader-self-glorification”, is that everything in leadership is about two things: others and authenticity.

The purpose of leadership is to stimulate a culture of trust through the application of values. Consciously making decisions out of values first and foremost, then interests. Why? Because it is (often) very difficult to know what is “of interest” in an unpredictable, uncertain, and volatile world. This is why MISSIONME insists so much on the concept of why rather than what and how. Why offers a strategic bearing of sorts that brings in its wake a purposeful organizational culture.

The leader should always hesitate to blame others for failures. When there is an issue in an organization or team – the following order will come in handy:

  1. The leader should first look at how he or she is ignoring his or her part in the problem (almost always due to a lack of communication in one way or another).
  2. The leader should then look at the environment; which he or she is largely responsible for maintaining or generating (culture: expectations, values etc.).
  3. The leader should finally consider the behavior, motivation, or competence of personnel.

Essentially: the communicator is always at fault. Always. As leadership is largely about communication (communication should occur after connection), it is almost always the fault of leadership when things go wrong. The concept of “extreme leadership” emphasizes this point. One must have very strong shoulders to “do” extreme leadership. One must be ready to admit failure regardless of proximity to the issue. To be self-reflective. To be honest (to a certain point). To understand that failure paves the road to greatness. That falling is what gives leaders depth, humility, and most importantly the ability and attitude to connect more with people, with situations, and with events.

So What:

  • Just as one listens before speaking, one connects before communicating. Try to understand the problem from as many angles as possible.
  • Recognize that you, as a leader, are very likely part of the problem when something goes wrong – do not try to ignore this fact. Extreme leadership is fully embracing this notion.
  • Look at yourself first, then look at the environment (culture, values, expectations, norms, etc), then look at the competence/motivation of your personnel.
  • Side point: learn to lead without authority. It is a far far greater art/skill.