We Can’t Get Enough Leadership

John AgnoToday’s guest post is by John G. Agno. You can learn more about him and his work at the end of this post.

There has always been pressure on corporate leaders to perform well. Some have stretched and improved their competencies by learning more about themselves. Most have chosen to adopt best practices of those whom they respect to improve their own leadership style.

So, which is the better method to develop leadership skills -improve your innate signature talents or copy what others have developed and used successfully?

The short answer is not to jump from one leadership fad to another but do engage in authentic conversations and self-assessments to know yourself better.

Cook bookish leadership doesn’t work when you are following someone else’s recipe.

Perhaps, the quote from Dr. Maxwell Maltz of the Psycho-Cybernetic Foundation, about the need to focus our internal energy to make the changes we desire, says it best… “Trying to implant a goal that is incongruent with the self-image is like trying to plant grain by dropping seeds on rock hard bone-dry ground. This happens when a person tries to make a goal that they are not. No one can consistently out perform his or her self-image. No one can long overcome it with willpower. No one can sneak past it and perform in an incongruent manner. The bottom line is that you cannot ‘do’ things without ‘being’ the kind of person who does those things. You must ‘be’ to ‘do.'”

Something that works well for a leader in one company is not easily replicated in another.

Many leaders are rejecting benchmarking – the practice, promoted by many big consulting firms, of adopting the best-practices from high-performing companies such as General Electric Co. Leadership transition does not happen by simply taking someone else’s leadership approach and using it as a template in one’s organization.

When Jacques A. Nasser, Ford Motor’s ex-CEO, quickly implemented a General Electric-style performance evaluation system in the late 1990’s, the new forced-ranking system resulted in a $10.5 million settlement of two class action suits with the company slipping into a crisis management mode of operation. By attempting to copy Jack Welch’s performance management system without a clear understanding or building the foundation for implementation, Nasser and Ford experienced unintended consequences that sent the company reeling.

To some degree, we all have an innate talent for leadership.

By focusing our attention on building strengths within our individual and enduring talents (while applying damage control to our weaknesses), we can choose to move from satisfactory performance to excellence. When we know what our signature talents are and how we might apply them, the application of attention allows our focused energy to push us toward success. Individual and corporate transformation happens when the leader truly understands who s/he is through increased self-awareness that leverages innate talents into leadership strengths.

Knowing who you are and what you are meant to do can make all the difference in moving from good to great.

John G. Agno is a Certified Executive and Business Coach. He’s the author of Can’t Get Enough Leadership. You can grab your copy here or get it for Kindle or Nook (and while you’re there, you may as well pick up your copy of One Piece of Paper by Mike Figliuolo too).

7 Responses to “We Can’t Get Enough Leadership”

  1. Michael says:

    I love the post and agree we all have the ability to be leaders. I can also understand the rejection by leaders of leadership approaches from elsewhere. In a Lean methodolgy book, I read that one should monitor and measure ones’s own performance and benchmark ourselves longitudinally rather than benchmark externally.
    As I reflect on the Emotional Capital Report tool from RocheMartin, although the high level process of evaluation is constant, the intelligence and meaning derived and the subsequent strategies developed (although across a set list of leadership pillars) are all contextual in design. The nuances within the specific environment of a leadership situation are too detailed and fine to work with a blunt ‘use this approach’. Leaders need to be involved in the development of the strategies and skills they will develop and deploy, otherwise their intrinsic motivation is unlikely to be fired.

  2. John Agno says:

    Thanks, Mike, for telling your blog visitors about my new leadership book.

    Your kindness is appreciated.


  3. Teddy says:

    Great article on leadership and goals. I am a big fan of Maxwell Maltz and his study of the human mind. Maxwell is correct in you must become before you do.

    You cannot decide to be a great leader just by saying. You develop your leadership by the person you become. Then you demonstrate your leadership to others by doing.

    Thanks for info on this author

  4. This is a great post for acknowledging that trying to follow other models creates inner dissonance. The advantage of learning about how others lead is that you develop a vocabulary and model to make your own style more understandable. The key is giving yourself permission to trust your own way, to make your own recipe.

  5. […] ford motor company innovative leadership […]

  6. There is one skill for leaders to work on: emotional intelligence. The rest is just management skills. There are a lot of people in leadership positions that are just managers leading because of hierarchal authority – they’re not leaders, they’re managers,

    • Mike Figliuolo says:

      I beg to differ Michael. Leadership is about influencing others. It takes more than EQ to do that. Strategy, vision, insight, communications, and decision making all fall within the realm of leadership. Sure, there are aspects of those that are management too but they’re definitely components of leadership. I invite you to expand your perspective on this point.

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