Graceful Leadership

by  Mike Henry  |  Leadership Development

Graceful by Seth Godin is the best $3 you will spend this year!

I’m serious.  The author quickly takes you through a series of ideas created to help you move individually from defensive, zero-sum, factory-style leadership to a new gift-based, positive-sum, community-style model.


It used to be that leaders were the people “in charge”.  Followers did what they were told.  Godin refers to those types of workplaces as factories, regardless the color of the worker’s collars.  Nothing was freely given; rather it was exchanged, transactional.  We exchanged money for labor.  Energy?  Well energy isn’t always part of the transaction.  How much energy do you need to answer the phone, fill out forms, drive a truck or balance the books?  We exchanged time for money and the appearance of security.


More and more today, a leader has an idea.  They exercise their freedom to act, accepting risk and responsibility.  When you act on your idea you may or may not get anyone’s attention.  Attention is scarce.  The Internet makes publishers of everyone.  We can create photos, videos, blogs, books, magazines, radio shows, games and other types of media more easily, cheaply, and quickly than ever before.

Followers volunteer their attention to you and your idea.  And as quickly as they gave it, they’ll move it.  Do you want your ideas to attract the attention of others?

Graceful leadership serves others and attracts attention.

In the section titled “Mastery, connection and then grace” Godin explains:

The compliant era of the factory encouraged us to be focused on following instructions and fitting in.  Some used this as an opportunity to achieve mastery, to get good at our craft, to understand the nature of what we did.

Now we have an opportunity to go beyond that.  To connect with one another. To bring surprise and delight and love to the interactions that make up our day.

That will make you graceful. And the work you do when you are graceful is what we need, now more than ever.


How can you bring grace to your life such that you attract the attention of others?  What area of your gifts can be used in a way to inject energy in others without thought of reward?  You’re being called to master your craft and deliver it with grace.  That makes you the new leader.  Will you join in that effort, or will you continue to try to run your factory?  The choice is up to you.

Get the book.  Take an hour and digest it.  Let the ideas in the book resonate with your mind and challenge you out of the transactional, control and manipulation mindset.  Break away from the org chart.  Bring grace to your work and be a graceful leader.

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

Wayne McEvilly  |  26 May 2011  |  Reply

Mike Henry:
I was quite happy to discover this site – one of the graces of my morning twitter session – I am in the process of a total renewal of my mind and outlook on life. It is a subtle and yet massive enterprise. So much stands out in the body of your text but I will take this thought away with me as perhaps the most useful single point: “Attention is scarce.” The implications of this fact are vast, and one of them is that it serves as a vivid reminder-When someone pays attention to you and your work, your writing, your blog, you tweet, demonstrate grace by truly acknowledging that attention. Give yourself the gift of gratitude by expressing gratitude to others.
I love blogposts that get me to thinking. This did that.
Thank you.

Mike Henry  |  27 May 2011  |  Reply

Thanks for the comment Wayne. I’m glad it got you thinking. Seth Godin always does that for me too. Mike…

Katie  |  26 May 2011  |  Reply

A teacher once said about my sister: she’s a leader who needs no followers, but she’s also a follower who needs no leaders. She had a lot of energy to inject without any thought of reward. It simply makes her day to be connected. That’s leading with grace.

Thanks for the post, Mike.

Mike Henry  |  27 May 2011  |  Reply

Thank you Katie. There are many ways to describe the way our energy produces benefit for others. I appreciate the use of the word “grace” because it makes us think. I don’t use that word as often as I should, and that makes me think too. It’s a great little book. Mike…

Jennifer V. Miller  |  26 May 2011  |  Reply

Hey, Mike,

Now it’s my turn to say “thanks for the book review”– this one slipped passed me and I look foward to reading it.

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