The Character-Based Leader Book Project: My 10 Leadership Lessons

by  Mike Henry  |  Character Based Leader Book

“Let’s write a book.”

Often we don’t see significant turning points in our life. Or we don’t realize their significance when they happen. Many times radical change comes from a simple decision. Some decisions fire off a chain reaction of additional decisions leading to unexplored territory. You find yourself wondering, “How did we ever get here?”

Have you made any of those commitments? Have you chased an idea and found yourself months and miles from where you ever thought you would be?

The Character-Based LeaderThe end result of that comment above, paraphrased from a Lead Change conference call in May 2011 has just been published. It’s titled The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time. Over the first 3 months of the effort, we all wrote. After that, Tara Alemany, Deb Costello and Don Shapiro along with Will Lukang and some others worked to pull the content together. Then, beginning in February of this year we began working to get the final work published.

I learned several lessons about leadership and life. The 10 that are most clear in my mind at this moment are:

  1. Ideas create possibility and possibility creates hope.  The object of hope is a vision.
  2. Leaders are those who take ownership of the vision.
  3. Leaders also are those who steward the vision for those others who align and contribute.
  4. Teammates, those sharing the vision, create power, energy and strength to keep going. Often team members step in at just the right moment to re-energize the leaders.
  5. Responsibility to the team may sometimes be the only energy you have to keep going.
  6. The vision is never more important than the team, however, there are times when a collaborative leadership style creates complexity.
  7. Simplification is always good. Fewer words, fewer steps, fewer actions help teammates stay focused and on target.
  8. Confusion and conflict are inevitable. Clarity of vision and commitment to the vision are the only remedies.
  9. Confusion and conflict are opportunities. Failure to adopt this view leads to exhaustion and despair.
  10. The vision owner is ultimately responsible for cleaning up the messes.

Do you consider yourself a leader? If you have a vision, you have a call to leadership. You don’t need permission; you don’t need power and you don’t need to be promoted or “put in charge.” You have what you need. You can lead right now, right where you are, buy leading from who you are. Liz Strauss once told me that I needed to decide what I was going to do. “You know what it means to decide, don’t you?” she asked. “The word decide is like the word homicide… you must kill all the other options.” The first step is to decide to be a leader.

If you’d like to decide to move forward on your vision, check out The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time at or Barnes and Noble or on our website. And tell some other people about it too. The world can always use more character-based leaders.


About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Deborah Costello  |  24 Sep 2012  |  Reply

So many people contributed so much to this effort! Thank you for the shout out Mike. Your vision started it all and now we have this wonderful book as testament to your vision. I am humbled to have been given the opportunity to participate and have learned so much. Did you know that before I joined the Lead-Change group at Leaderpalooza, I had never written anything for a public forum? Thank you for believing that I had something to say.

Mike Henry  |  24 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Thanks Deb. I’m grateful for everyone who has contributed to the effort. Nothing beats being part of a team.

Jennifer V. Miller  |  24 Sep 2012  |  Reply


It has been an honor to venture on this journey with you and the *many* others who helped make this book a reality. Thanks for this personal reflection. We can ALL lead, if we dig deep and decide that it will be so.

Mike Henry  |  25 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Thanks Jennifer. I’m grateful that we share the idea that “we can ALL lead…” I hope people take the opportunity and go make a positive difference in the world. Mike…

Will Lukang  |  24 Sep 2012  |  Reply


Leaders are good followers especially if the leader-of-leaders inspires them to act and overcome distance and lack of physical meeting to accomplish a goal. You have encouraged and inspired us to come together and instigate this leadership revolution that aims to develop one person at a time

On my bucket list, I have writing a book as one of my goals. To achieve this dream along side 20 other respected people in the leadership field is truly a “GIFT”. I’m thankful for this opportunity. May this be the start of a new journey for all of us.

Mike Henry  |  25 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Will, I’m glad you were part of this project too. Probably an eleventh lesson lies in the joy of when your teammates take the lead. You and most of the other authors had some extra cycles to chip in and do some of the work of creating this besides just writing. There’s a lot that goes on. Thanks for being part of the group and the book.

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