Today is Martin Luther King Day.  Martin Luther King had courage as a leader to stand up for what is right.  He was willing, and did finally, pay the full price as a leader.

Update: I recorded a Facebook Live video session about this post and Bill Treasurer’s new book:

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Conor & Bill on Conor’s roof terrace, Barcelona 2015

Bill Treasurer’s latest book, “A Leadership Kick in the Ass” launches today, January 16.  Bill is a good friend and a trusted source of expert guidance when I have questions about leadership, life and living well.  The pic to the right is from Bill’s last visit to Barcelona in 2015.

I first met Bill in 1996 at Accenture’s Global Leadership Training facility in St Charles, near Chicago USA.  We were put on a team of 4 consultants for a week-long training course.  I loved the experience, and I gained a leadership mentor that week.  Bill has gone on to publish 5 books on Leadership and speak on the stage with Marshall Goldsmith, Ken Blanchard.  I’m proud to say that Bill is turning into a Leadership guru.

About this post...  I did a short interview with Bill about his life and his motivations for writing this latest book.  First, here is Bill himself explaining what the new book is all about...

How to Lead with Experience: Making the Shift

If you are reading this via email you can watch the video on the blog here: How to lead with Experience

The Rhetorical Journey Interviews Bill Treasurer

Over to Bill… 

Where did the idea for the book come from? 

I didn’t know where the book came from until after I wrote it! Though I’ve worked with lots of famous companies over the years, the bulk of my work has been with three unionized construction companies based in Chicago. They have a very low tolerance of leadership fru fru. If you don’t give them practical and useful stuff that works, they will chew you up and spit you out.

This book is low on theory and high on practicality. Even the title was influenced by my construction company clients. Believe me, “ass” is the tamest word I hear when I’m working with them!

What single achievement are you proudest about? 

Honestly, when other parents compliment my wife and I on our kids. I love being my kids dad.

Outside of my home-life, the achievement I’m most proud of is having developed long-term relationships with my clients. In this business, if you’re not adding value, your business will fail. I love my clients, and I love the trust that we’ve built together. I consider the fact that they’ve entrusted me with the development of their leaders to be a sacred honor.

If you could speak to every person on the planet for 1 minute what would you say (what would you ask of them?)?

I would have the world start each day with 5 minutes of reflective silence. With all the technological bombardment in the world, we often move too far off-center, away from our inner wisdom.

With even 5 brief minutes of silence each day, people could become reconnected with the wisdom inside them, and collectively, humanity would be a lot better off with more wisdom and less distraction.

Who are 5 people who inspire you to be the best version of yourself?

My three children, Bina, Alex, and Ian. My wife, Shannon. And all my clients.

What is one failure you had, and how did you overcome it?

I sucked at leading. I know that because one of my employees had the courage to tell me. At first I got defensive. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. I didn’t know who I was as a leader, so I had adopted the leadership style of my main leadership role model: my dad. Turns out, my dad was a controlling temperamental hothead, and I was mimicking him.

So I picked up my first book on leadership: The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. It lit a fire in me. I started reading more leadership books, and then entered graduate school and studied leadership. My thesis focused on the effectiveness of various leadership styles. Before long, I got better as a leader myself. Now I work with leaders as part of my professional practice. I owe that courageous employee a debt of gratitude for telling me I sucked as a leader.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

 I’m a gregarious loner. People sometimes mistake me for an extraverted socialite.

In actuality, I’m a very solitary person and relish my time alone. I sometimes think of myself like a full moon that you can see during the morning. I’m at my best when I am able to be a bit of an outsider, observing the world with a certain objectivity, and then sharing what I’ve observed in my books.

I can be social, but it’s just as important to me to be unsocial so that I observe the world without becoming subsumed by it.

What is one internet resource that you regularly use?

Wikipedia. Someday, when computers get integrated with human biology, I’m going to upload Wikipedia into my brain!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

You mean besides my new book, A Leadership Kick in the Ass? J

One of my all-time favorite leadership books is Obedience to Authority, by Stanley Milgram. When you learn how easily people capitulate to authority figures, with little or no coercion, it becomes less perplexing to see how a Hitler or other malevolent leaders emerge. Every leader needs to read this eye-opening book.

About Bill Treasurer

Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer (CEO) of Giant Leap Consulting, Inc. His new book, A Leadership Kick in the Ass, focuses on the crucial importance of leadership humility. He is also the author of international best-seller Courage Goes To Work, which introduced the new management practice of courage building and Leaders Open Doors, which became the #1 leadership training book on Amazon. Bill’s clients include NASA, Saks Fifth Avenue, UBS Bank, Walsh Construction, Spanx, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs, and many others. Learn more at: www.CourageBuilding.com/Kickass

Connect with Bill through social media: facebook.com, twitterlinkedin. youtube

This is a guest post by my good friend Bill Treasurer, who's latest book Leaders Open Doors makes its big time release this week!  Over to Bill...

If you’re a leader, there’s an important question on the minds of the people you lead. They may not say it directly, but it is the core question that defines the relationship between you and the people you lead. When people believe the answer is “yes,” they will be more committed to their work … and to you. But when they think the answer is “no,” their commitment to their jobs and their loyalty to you will suffer. The question is: Do you care about me?

Do you care about me?

share_14The answer shows up in your treatment of people. You may say that you care about people, but if you never smile, constantly move up deadlines, rarely ask for their opinions or use their input, take credit for their good work, set unrealistic goals, and don’t say “thank you” for their hard work, then you don’t really care about them. And they know it.

To be a leader means to get results. But when the drive for results monopolizes a leader’s attention, people become a lesser priority. When a leader cares more about the “ends” (results) and less about the “means” (people), the leader becomes susceptible to treating people like objects. A single-minded focus on results often leads directly to treating people poorly. The drive to achieve results becomes the leader’s excuse for toughness, saying things like, “Sure, I’m tough. We’re under relentless pressure from our competitors, and margins are tight. Being tough creates urgency and motivates people to work hard. My boss is tough on me, so why shouldn’t I be tough on the people who work for me?”

To be sure, results matter. But people achieve those results, and when you treat people poorly you’ll get poor results. Answering “yes” to the core do-you-care-about-me question means taking a deep and genuine interest in those you are leading. Caring, in this sense, is obliging. For when you care about people, you give them more of your time, attention, and active support. A wise leader treats people as more important than results, because strong people produce those results. Period.

So what does caring look like? When you care about people, you:

  • take an interest in their career aspirations
  • seek, value, and apply their ideas
  • acknowledge people’s contributions and say “thank you” generously.

As a practical matter, it’s a good idea to care about your people. Here’s why: when they know you care about them, they will care about you … and your success.

In fact, you’ll know that you are truly a leader who cares when the people you lead start seeking and valuing your input, when they take an interest in your career aspirations, and when they are actively supportive of you. And when your people care about you, they’ll help you get better results.

About Bill Treasurer

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 22.46.22Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting and author of Leaders Open Doors, which focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. 100% of the book’s royalties are being donated to programs that support children with special needs. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and Courageous Leadership, and has led courage-building workshops across the world for NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and many others. Contact Bill at btreasurer@giantleapconsulting.com, or on Twitter at @btreasurer.

Simplifying Leadership

I am sharing a new book and a short video by a friend of mine, Bill Treasurer.  The book is called “Leaders Open Doors” and is a short, simple answer to the question: what do great leaders do for those around them?  

I first met Bill over 20 years ago on an Accenture (then Andersen Consulting) training program in Chicago.  We were put on the same team and enjoyed the fun and challenges of 2 weeks of intense, sleep deprived, project work.

Since then, Bill has become a well known speaker and author.  Bill is the author of Courage Goes to Work, an internationally bestselling book on courage building. Bill is also a former member of the U.S. High Diving Team, a cancer survivor, and a champion for the rights of people with disabilities. Bill currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and three children.

Leaders Open Doors

Transcript of Bill’s talk

But the reality is we’ve inflated this idea of leadership too much and after twenty years I had a conversation with a very wise person that brought me back to the essence of what leadership is really all about I had a conversation with my five-year-old son.

Now Ian, at the time, was a five year old at the preschool the Montessori School and Asheville North Carolina where I live. I came home and my wife said “hey honey Ian got to be the class leader today!”

“A class leader!” My son.

I’m the guy who goes around teaching leadership and my son got to be the class leader.

“Son give me a high five! What’s it like to be a leader? What did you get to do as a class leader Iain?”

He looked at me and with 7 words he cut through to what matters most about leadership.   He looked at me and said: “I got to open doors for people”

I get to open doors for people.

I thought about it for a couple of days… I kept thinking about that concept: leaders opening doors.  I thought about the leaders who had made a difference in my life; and there are always people that have taken an interest in me and nudged me into discomfort; sometimes to help me be accountable to my own potential… they believed in me until I start to believe in myself.

I can live up to, and into, my potential.   Leaders to open doors… and I thought about that concept and it turned into a book. “Open-door Leadership” is about serving people and organisations by creating opportunities for them to grow and develop.

What if leadership was that simple?  What if that’s the central idea? Leadership is serving others. Leadership is not about the leader, it is about those being led.  What are you going to do in the service for them?

Who are your “Passive Mentors”?

Mentors make a big difference in my life. There are 2 types of mentor: Active and Passive mentors.

Active mentors are those that you meet in person, interact with and get to know.

Passive mentors are those that you learn from without them knowing.  Book authors are one of the top sources of Passive Mentoring.

My Top Passive Business Mentors

Here are my 7 most valuable Business Book recommendations:

What books would you recommend?  Why?