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

"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 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.


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