When I run seminars on leadership, I often share the lessons learnt from the work Kouzes and Posner did to create their book “The Leadership Challenge”. They identified the 4 most important characteristics of a leader that gets the greatest discretionary effort out of the people around them.
How do you know if someone is competent? The simple answer: they have books on their desk.
The proxy for Competence is whether you have books on your desk. If you care about being competent, you will be competent. If you don’t take care of your learning, if you don’t have a plan for your own development needs – you might accidentally be competent now, but with the changes in the environment you will rapidly lose that competence.
Here’s a recent interview at UCD Smurfit Executive Development where I talk about the need for leaders to take charge of their personal and professional development.
What are the next development steps you will be taking for your own competence?
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:
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...
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?
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.