What New Leadership Insights Did You Learn This Year?

My team and I spend a lot of time talking to senior executives about leadership accountability at large-scale speaking events, presentations, workshops and seminars.

Between all this activity and the global travel it necessitates, the pace is demanding but the work is highly rewarding.

I also relish the downtime when it arises.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a pocket of time where things slowed down for a bit. When this happens, I pause to reflect on my own leadership role and think about what I’m learning that’s new.

I was lucky as my reflection was inspired by some great thought leaders. It turned out I was in Toronto the same day that The Art of Leadership conference was taking place.

I had the opportunity to attend and learn from some amazing thought leaders who were on stage speaking about leadership. I heard from Whitney Johnson, Jacqueline Carter, Morten Hansen, Ram Charan and Alan Mulally. What at a great lineup. I was so excited as the day began.

I took a ton of notes and here are some of the key insights that I gleaned:

  • Whitney Johnson shared that in a world of disruption, we need to learn to disrupt ourselves. This happens by adopting an aggressive learning orientation to everything you do. As a leader, you need to manage your own learning, but also that of the people you lead.
  • Jacqueline Carter nicely expressed how our egos can create problems for leaders. When your ego is high, as a leader it makes you vulnerable to criticism and manipulation, it narrows your vision, puts you in a bubble and, ultimately, can corrupt your behavior.
  • Dr. Morten Hansen shared his insights on what drives sustainable high performance. I loved his line on the need for leaders to do less, then obsess. Super clear objectives and focus are critical to organizational success.
  • Dr. Ram Charan challenged the audience on the need for leaders to increase their capacity to take on new challenges. He asked the group to think about the things they will stop doing on January 1st. I have always found this to be a quality of great leaders. They are always looking at new ways to add value in their roles. But to do this, they need to free themselves from tasks and obligations that no longer create value for the organization. In other words, they look for new ways to be more valuable.
  • Alan Mulally, former CEO of Boeing and Ford Motor Company, shared a treasure trove of leadership wisdom. There was so much good stuff, I couldn’t write fast enough. In the end, he manifested a lot of what I believe around leadership accountability. My colleague Jim Mitchell interviewed Mr. Mulally. He talked about the importance of setting clear leadership expectations, having zero tolerance if people violate or fail to step up in a way aligned to those behaviors, having the courage to confront issues that are getting in the way, and the power that comes from building a team with high clarity on goals and deep commitment to work together to execute the strategy.

I consider myself fortunate to have had the luxury to spend time to learn from some great leadership minds. I hope some of these insights are valuable to you. I’m also curious to learn from you. Leave me a comment and share what leadership insights you learned in 2018.

That’s what this week’s Gut Check for Leaders explores: What leadership insights did you learn this year?

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