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Blog

What Is Leadership

Alan Andersen

Happy New Year!

There is truly much to be grateful for in this day and age. Including many changes taking place, some of which people never even conceived as possible. Take for instance, Uber and Budweiser's recent feat; they successfully partnered to launch a driverless 18 wheeler that delivers beer!

So with talk surrounding driverless vehicles, the colonization of mars, and many other mind-boggling opportunities, what is of utmost importance to focus on in the new year?

There are a number of important topics. We could look at:

  • Performance
  • Communication
  • Productivity
  • Collaboration
  • Profit
  • Culture

But what is the driving force that makes each of those initiatives truly effective? Healthy Leadership

Why Healthy Leadership

There is much information about leaders, leading, and leadership. In fact, I recently read this quote, “Now more than ever the world needs leaders.” While this sounds good (and may even be true), the pitfall I see time and again is the concept of leadership. What in the world do we mean by leadership and all the more that "we need leaders"?

Come on, Alan. This statement seems pretty clear. 

Maybe, but think about this. I recently heard a convincing argument that Hitler was no mere leader, he was in fact a good (effective) leader. This notion makes my skin crawl! But when you look at the definition of leader (a person who commands a group of people *), Hitler was technically a leader. Albeit through means of deceit, distortion, blatant lies and a long list of other disqualifying flaws that should have earned him a lobotomy. 

Refocusing

We must define our terms. If the statement had read, "Now more than ever the world needs healthy leaders" I would buy-in to the reality. This year we will lay a foundation for what healthy leadership looks like.  

Our idea is simple: we want to engage the mind and equip the person for healthy growth. We will do this, in part, by sharing the principles of healthy leadership so that we can help empower you to action.

 

Principle number one: Healthy Leadership is simple.

 

There is a notion that leadership is complicated. Not so.

The same leadership development book I referenced  about the world needing more leaders also claimed, "Leadership development is a lifelong process, with infinite complexities."

While there is truth behind lifelong development, it really is not complicated. Now, what I am not saying is that leadership is easy.  

As my friend and Retired Navy SEAL Leif Babin says, "Simple does not mean easy." I'll share an abbreviated illustration from Babin's co-authored Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. (if you have not read yet, I wrote why this is a must read here.)

He shares a story about hero and Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor

On 09/29/2006, a terrorist threw a grenade onto a rooftop where several SEALs and Iraqi soldiers were positioned. Monsoor saw the grenade land and quickly smothered it with his body! He absorbed the explosion and saved fellow soldiers from serious injury or death. He died roughly 30 minutes later from serious wounds caused by the grenade. Monsoor completely sacrificed his life. 

Michael appears to have made a simple decision, in a split second moment at that. He must have already known what he would do if such an occasion arose. We see that he put the good of the mission and men over his own comfort and life. He embodies healthy leadership. 

Now, I don't know about you but this story stirs up significant emotion each time I hear it (and I've heard it a number of times). And while I understand that our days do not typically consist of conflict on this scale, the model of healthy (and servant) leadership is totally applicable to you and me. We see that personal sacrifice for the good of the mission empowers fellow men and women to live on and fight another day.

Practical Application

The main point here is that the concept of healthy leadership is not actually that complex. It can be hard. It can feel unbearable even to the point of falling on the metaphorical sword (or literal "sword", in some cases). However, the simplicity of healthy leadership comes down to this...

  1. Knowing what your true north is
  2. Recognizing the difference between what is right and wrong
  3. Understanding your responsibility (even in circumstances you have not yet experienced)
  4. Practice personal accountability 24/7

We'll discuss these elements in the coming weeks and months. However, what is clear now is that we really need healthy leadership. Healthy leadership in our country, community, businesses and especially homes. Healthy leadership is the cornerstone of sustainable action and continued growth, both personally and professionally.

Will you join us on this journey of uncovering what healthy leadership looks like?

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

*Definition from New Oxford American Dictionary

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