Cracking the Leadership Code
eBook - ePub

Cracking the Leadership Code

Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders

Alain Hunkins

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eBook - ePub

Cracking the Leadership Code

Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders

Alain Hunkins

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Über dieses Buch

Become the effective, proactive leader you aspire to be with this practical tool kit for leading people and organizations

Yes, you can learn the skills to effectively lead people, organizations, and employees. With the right motivation and knowledge, you can be a leader who knows what it takes to succeed. Throughout his extensive experience in training leaders, author Alain Hunkins discovered that many leaders shared a common trait. They were mainly focused on what they were doing but not so focused on how they were doing it, especially when it came to working with other people. By strengthening their leadership capabilities, they could become trusted leaders within their organization, improve employee communications, and build bridges across hierarchies. Cracking the Leadership Code shares the valuable principles and practices that Hunkins developed and refined during the 20+ years he's worked with leaders.

When you crack the code, you'll have a new operating model for organizational leadership that will help your teams thrive in a 21st century economy.

  • Discover the brain science behind leading people
  • Get inspired by real life leadership stories
  • Use a practical leadership tool kit to become a better leader
  • Learn how to communicate, influence, and persuade others, more effectively than ever before

With this book as a resource, you'll have a new perspective, a new framework, and new tools at your disposal, readily available to guide your leadership. You'll learn to establish proactive, leader-follower relationships. To do this, you'll use the interconnected elements of Connection, Communication, and Collaboration.

When you learn from the author's insightful experiences working with organizations around the world, you can accelerate your leadership development and become the leader you've always aspired to be.

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Part I

Every traveler knows that the trip goes a lot better if you have an excellent map. A great map provides a clear big picture while still offering the appropriate amount of specific details. It clearly demarks boundaries so you can easily identify where you are and where you want to go. The journey of leadership development works the same way. The goal of this book is to serve as such a map. The concepts and tools that you learn will help you lead more effectively. You'll be able to multiply your influence and impact. As such, you'll accomplish more things in less time.
Part I gives an overview of the journey. It prepares you for the voyage ahead. You'll learn why leading others is more challenging—and more important—than ever before. You'll hear first-person accounts as to why some leaders succeed and others fail. You'll get a brief history of leadership and how the bad habits of previous generations of leaders have been passed down to you.
In addition, you'll become acquainted with the overarching leadership framework of connection, communication, and collaboration. An entire section of the book is devoted to exploring each of these principles later. Please note: this is no academic treatise. Based on the experience of working with thousands of leaders, you're going to get the inside scoop as to what works and what doesn't. It's not always pretty. But it is always real. Let's start cracking the leadership code.

Chapter 1
The Basics

We're blind to our blindness. We have very little idea of how little we know. We're not designed to know how little we know.
—Daniel Kahneman
The ballots were all counted.
Final score: 38–6.
Thirty-eight votes to six!
And it wasn't me that won the 38. It was my opponent. How could this be?

I lost? For real?
Only six votes?
I sat in a puddle of disbelief.
That can't be true!
But it was true. When all was said and all was done, I'd lost.
By a landslide.
I'd been creamed.
This all happened in 1999, but it seems like yesterday.
I was living in New York City, where I was hoping to become the new executive director of a nonprofit leadership development organization. At the annual meeting the members elected new officers.
In my mind, I was a shoo-in for the job. No one else had worked as tirelessly as I had. No one else had the “feet on the street” experience that I had. No one else was more passionate than I was.
Committed to the cause, I was a “super-volunteer.” I'd put in countless hours, doing anything and everything. The outgoing executive director had called me the organization's newest rising star.
I had one competitor for the job: Gary.
Gary was a newbie: he'd just joined in the past year. Gary owned his own business in the construction industry, where he'd been quite successful. However, when it came to our nonprofit, he was still green.
Yet, somehow, Gary had trounced me. He'd captured more than 85% of the vote.
What was his secret? How had he done it?
I wouldn't find out how he managed to beat me so soundly for another month. It took me that long to set up a meeting with Gary—and not because of a busy schedule. It was my ego. I couldn't face Gary. My pride was too hurt. I needed some time to lick my wounds before I could look him in the eye.
On a blustery gray day in early December, Gary and I finally met up for lunch. We met at the Galaxy Diner, a bustling spot smack dab in the middle of Hell's Kitchen. The Galaxy is a classic New York diner, where the size of the menu is only outdone by the size of the portions. The waitresses seem like they've been working there since diners were first invented.
After some small talk and minestrone soup, I casually told Gary how surprised I was about the outcome of the election. I asked him if he was surprised as well.
“No,” he answered easily.
I was taken aback. He was serious. What did he know that I didn't know?
“How did you know that you'd get all those votes?” I asked him—expecting a quick, one-sentence answer.
I couldn't have been any more wrong.
Gary's response shocked me. He had thought this whole thing out:
I reached out to people. I invited people out to coffee and to lunch. I got to know them. I asked them how long they'd been active in leadership development and with our nonprofit. I asked them what they liked about the organization. I asked them what they would change if they could. I asked them what they hoped the future might look like.
Then, I shared why I was running for executive director. I told them how important this work is to me. I told them that I wanted to build a team of people to take this organization to the next level. I asked if they'd be a part of that team.
Finally, I asked them to show up on election night and vote for me, so that we could be the team to make things happen.
As Gary finished, I felt lightheaded. I propped myself up on the red cushion of the booth.
His explanation made perfect sense. In fact, it was so perfect that it hit me like a blinding flash of the obvious.
Why hadn't I done that? Why hadn't I done anything even close to that?
I'd been living in a fantasy world. Whether you call it inexperience or ignorance, I had just expected to be elected. In hindsight, I could see that I'd made a whole lot of assumptions:
  • People in the nonprofit would know about me.
  • They would have heard about all the hard work that I had done on behalf of the organization for the past few years.
  • All my previous efforts would speak for themselves.
  • People would know who the “best” candidate was.
  • People would vote based on merit.
  • I'd “earned” the job, based on my excellence and tenure.
  • People would vote for me.
Given my boatload of assumptions, I never even considered taking the step of actually asking people to show up and support me. So I hadn't. And, except for five other people, they didn't.
Ask for votes? Be that explicit? It wasn't my style. It seemed so weird. So
But Gary knew something I didn't.
Gary knew that the key to successful leadership is influence, not authority. He wasn't interested in acquiring a title and throwing the weight of the position around. Gary knew that no one wanted to work under an authoritative leader.
The whole organization ran on the backs of volunteers. We felt connected to the mission and vision of the organization. Everyone was there out of commitment, not compliance. We did things because we cared. We offered our time, talents, and efforts because we wanted to, not because we had to.
As a volunteer, working from commitment had fueled my own journey for the past three years. However, as a candidate for executive director, I'd fallen for the leadership trap of my own ego.
My fantasy of becoming the person “in charge” had intoxicated me with visions of grandeur. I'd become aloof and had neglected the principles that really mattered. I'd already envisioned how everyone else would fall in line and do what I wanted them to do. I thought I was entitled to lead. This version of reality was crystal clear in my imagination. Sadly, I was blind to the greater truth.
Gary, however, knew that leadership isn't about what goes on in the mind of a leader: it's about what goes on in the minds of people they want to lead. Understanding how things really work, Gary tapped into their energy and explicitly asked them to show up and vote for him. And show up they did. And I lost.
The experience was incredibly humbling. However, that defeat turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons of my life. Gary, through his modeling, had provided me with a map of how to become a better leader (see Figure 1.1...


  1. COVER
  4. Part I: CONTEXT
  9. NOTES
  13. INDEX