Leading with a Limp – Intro

18 Jun

Just picked up a copy of the book Leading with a Limp by Dan Allendar. Beginning the first of what will probably be fourteen entries on the book. Being that there are fourteen chapters I’m guessing each chapter will get its fifteen minutes of fame. I figure for each chapter I will post the quotes and thoughts that jumped out at me then comment afterward.

Intro – What Are You in For?

“…let’s cut to the core assumption upon which every thing else in this book is built: to the degree you face and name and deal with your failures as a leader, to that same extent you will create an environment conducive to growing and retaining productive and committed colleagues. Sometimes the quickest path up is down, and likewise, the surest success comes through being honest about failure.”p2-3

“The truth about confession is that it doesn’t lead to people’s weakness and disrespect; instead, it transforms the leader’s character and earns her greater respect and power. This is the strange paradox of leading: to the degree you attempt to hide or dissemble your weaknesses, the more you will need to control those you lead, the more insecure you will become, and the more rigidity you will impose-promting the ultimate departure of your best people…Prepare now to admit to your staff that you are the organization’s chief sinner.”p3

“What I am calling you to, however, is far more than the mere acknowledgment of your shortcomings. I’m suggesting an outright dismantling of them-in the open and in front of those you lead.”p3

“But realize that most leaders invest too much capital obscuring their need for grace, which not only keeps their staff at arm’s length but also subverts their trust and steals energy and creativity they could otherwise devote to the inevitable crises that continue to arise.”p4

“Why is it so rare for leaders to name their failures?…Three primary reasons-fear, narcissism, and addiction-come immediately to mind.”

Fear
“If a leader were to openly acknowledge that he is frequently mistaken, that he is deeply flawed, and that he will continue to miss the mark on occasion, the ramifications could be disastrous. A leader with that much candor could lose the confidence of his staff, his clients could take their business elsewhere, and his board could fire him.”p5

Narcissism
“It takes humility to name our narcissism, and we’re too married to our image to come clean about how messed up we are. This focus on self strangles authentic confession.p5

Addiction
“…the beleaguered leader can easily isolate himself and fill his loneliness with the cancers of addictive substances and behaviors, ranging from sex to alcohol to simple workaholism. To avoid this trap a leader must name his loneliness and his tendency to detach from others, then leave behind the addictions that promise to fill the void.”

“To grow in confidence, connectedness, and success, you have to admit for all to hear that you are a failure…Few leaders operate out of confidence built on anything but the crumbling foundation of arrogance. Few know peace that is not dependent on performance.”p7

As I read though this chapter I could feel this relief flow over me. I’m normal. Every other leader is just as severely messed up as I am. The challenge that I face is how do I fess up to my failures? How do I do that in personal one on one relationships with people I know well? How do I do that with people that I don’t know so well that I need to apologize to? How do I do that in a large social setting with people who may have no idea about my background or the things that have shaped me? What is an appropriate amount of disclosure and a medium to disclose it? Is that what my Facebook status updates or Twitter is for?

Then there are the three barriers of Fear, Narcissism and Addiction. How much do I hold my tongue for those three things? Does being judged by others scare me? Does the fame of my name cause me to keep things in? What addictions give me a fix that I would rather keep to myself and not deal with?

Confession seems like it can come with quite the cost. But it makes sense that if you can’t willingly be the chief example in naming where you fall short you will push people away. You will push them away because you don’t want them to see the faults that you see. Or you will push them away indirectly because they won’t want to deal with the things that you won’t even acknowledge are there. This then creates a kind of culture as a person in leadership while not defining how people behave create a kind of atmosphere that allow people to be honest or to hide.

Got a lot of thinking to do…fortunately this is just the the intro to the book.

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One Response to “Leading with a Limp – Intro”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Leadership with a Limp pII « Rob’s Blog - June 29, 2009

    […] Leadership with a Limp pII June 29, 2009 — admin I am continuing a series going through the book Leadership with a Limp by Dan Allendar. For previous post see here. […]

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