In leadership, you get what you settle for… The leader must beware of settling for the "mere extraordinary". In today's rapidly evolving world, yesterday's extraordinary is the new norm. With all that we have at our disposal, we must demand of ourselves more, we must transcend today's exceptional, with yesterday's impossible.
Trust is the currency of influence. Too often, we try to achieve influence by impressing people, when in truth, authentic influence is achieved by building trust. The leader must decide whether they want to be admired or followed; the two are not the same.
At the essence of leadership is communication. The artful communicator must be an artful translator. The most difficult work in translation is not translating the other person's words into yours, but rather translating yours into theirs. The best communicator is as conscious of the other person's meaning as they are of their own.
A leader must beware of reports. Reports can serve the same role as an Aspirin: they mask a problem, they provide a false sense of comfort, and they offer no cures. The leader may find unwarranted comfort in his steady flow of reports, but the reality is the report is no substitute for intimate understanding.
The leader must beware of balance. Balance itself must be balanced. One must balance the need for balance with the need for extremes. The artful leader does not balance weakness with strength, she minimizes weakness, focuses on strength, and aggregates the gain.
Every leader is required to make decisions, but in most cases, she will never have all of the data she desires. The art of making decisions isn’t about making the right decision, it is about making a good decision. A good decision occurs when we have followed a right process. A right decision occurs when we have followed a right process and we are fortunate in our judgment. If the leader consistently makes good decisions, she will more likely make right decisions.
We spend too much time trying to prove that our choices are grounded in some higher authority, be it logic, God, some combination, or some sort of universal ethic. We confuse a decision with a rule. It is perfectly acceptable for an autonomous being to choose. Once the choice is made, it is generally cogent to act consistent within the framework implied by the choice. Justification cannot be confused with actualization. The former often inhibits the later.
Presentations often begin by puzzling through a riddle. The speaker can often feel the presence of the riddle before she/he can articulate it. Sometimes it is in the articulation itself that the problem is solved. I use time and imagination to get closer to the audience. The closer I get to the audience, the clearer I can see the elements of the riddle. The moment I can articulate the riddle, I can form the essence of the answer. In the end, the speaker does not optimize the presentation, the speaker allows the audience to optimize himself.
The success of your company turns on the slightest nuance in your decision process. There may be three ways forward that will work, a nearly infinite number that will not work, and of the three that will, one that could work with exponential impact. The artful leader discerns her way forward, never excelling the speed of fluidity.
The good life is concept contemplated by philosophers around the world and across the centuries. What constitutes the good life? In most cases, philosophers think about this life against the context of its impact on something or someone. The good man is good to those around him, i.e., “the good life is experienced by the good man, which is expressed by the good he bestows on others.” Clearly, this is not the only view. But I think it’s important to consider the possibility that the good life cannot be understood apart from what it means to say that life is good. Now these two concepts may appear at first to be identical but the first may inadvertently position life as a means of achieving good while the second may recognize life itself as the potential expression of good.