Reading about leadership

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Over the past week, I have been reading all of the books for my upcoming leadership seminar in 2 weeks.  The first book “The Nibble Theory” was pretty transparent in terms of how the message applied to the group.  Long story short, we all have potential to grow and be great – we don’t do it through nibbling away at others making them feel smaller – we do it by sharing our light and energy and helping them.

The second book that I’m listening to during my commute strikes me as mental masturbation by the businessman and author.  He admits early that he strings together a lot of ideas that may not seem connected – but it is “your job to connect the ideas presented.”  It’s really hard to feel connected when you are too busy rolling your eyes at the string of wisdom that we are so blessed he is giving us.    Yeah, I barely could write that without rolling my eyes.  I’m so glad when they asked me to lead the discussion on that book that I declined.

The third book is pretty much one of Leadership Lessons – nine stories of leadership challenges.  Here is how it has gone.

Story 1: Leader makes a decision about donating lifesaving drugs instead of trying to make a profit – good things happen.

Story 2: Leader takes a group of fire jumpers into a fire zone.  During the course of leading the men to a fire, he realizes it has hit grass meaning it was burning faster than they could run.  He saves 2 men – the other 13 die.  Lesson: build trust so that if something happens, they will follow you to safety instead of doubting you.

Story 3: Apollo 13 ground command leader.  We know how that ends.

Story 4: First group of all women climbers trying to reach one of the peaks in the Himalayas.  Two women die.  Lesson: too much pessimism can lead to people taking risks that are not in their best interest.

Story 5: Commander gets a troop of upset soldiers added to his troop.  He must integrate them into his troop and lead them into battle.  He does.  And is instrumental in the Battle of Gettysburg.  Lesson: Be honest and take care of your men so they trust you in battle.

Story 6: Man restructures a large retirement plan.  Lesson: Listen more than you talk.

Story 7: Man ignores illegal trading in his company.  He ends up losing his job and is banned from the industry forever.  The guy who does the illegal trading has jail time. Lesson: Actions speak louder than words. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.

Story 8: Woman is an up and coming star, but decides to take a job that seems less prestigious because it aligns better with her personal ethics.  She grows it into a program that raises people out of poverty.  Lesson: Follow your heart.

I am just starting Story 9.  If the pattern follows, someone either dies or is fired.

I really shouldn’t be so pessimistic, but fuck – it seems to be the pattern.

And while these are all great lessons.  (Yes, I have oversimplified them.) I am faced with shit in my new job that leaves me looking at these books – at these lessons – and scratch my head going “how the fuck does this help me?”  I mean, yes, it is applicable.  I mean, a few things said have made me wonder why they must call that out – why don’t people know that is how to respond.  But other parts wonder how much is leadership versus personal belief.  I mean, when someone comments that I am good at one thing or another, it is often driven by my belief that people should be communicated with or people want to feel listened to or when they feel you will take actions.  Is that leadership or because I believe in those values?

I got a bunch of the bios from the group I’ll be part of.  Wowza.  They made it clear that it didn’t need to be just professional stuff.  They wanted people to give a glimpse of who they are.  Mine was pretty balanced between it all.  Reading through other bios, well, not so much.

Dude, I’m sorry to hear that you went through a divorce that led to a custody battle that lasted several years, but, uhm…..too much info, I think.

OR another guy shared his life story which had me wondering what the hell I did to get a 2-page bio with details that best belonged in a dating site.

I don’t know – I guess, if anything, it makes me realize how I’m definitely not out of my league.

I have 2 more books after this one.  One is about finding my true north. I don’t recall the other.

I’m just hoping that as I read them, I don’t feel as cynical as I do now.

Here’s hoping.

What do you think?

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