Five years ago, I was coming off the stage from a keynote in the US when a woman approached me. She was mid-to-late 30’s and possessed the biggest of smiles.
“Thank you for such a lovely talk,” she said with zeal and excitement. “I wish for all of what you spoke of from my company.”
It was a talk focused on organizational culture and employee engagement. The smile she delivered when we shook hands almost instantly began to fade. When she explained to me with vivid examples of what was going wrong, that smile was all but gone.
She spoke of infighting and backstabbing. Peers were purposefully withholding information. Worst of all, her direct leader was publicly berating employees for poor performance. That’s when she saw him; most of the time he was barricaded in his office. It seemed like a nightmare.
By this point, this poor woman was tearing up right in front of me. She said she couldn’t take it any longer, not with “the world’s worst boss.”
That exchange in 2015 shook me up. I tried as best I could to comfort her, urging that she consider a few strategies including the quiet investigation of a new role elsewhere. It was evident to me that her leader was utterly malevolent, and that she would be far better off working for someone (and a team culture) that actually cares.
But this woman’s story is not specifically why I wrote LEAD. CARE. WIN. The sad reality is that her story is one of many negative ones that I have been privy to over the past 25 years. The sheer volume of disengaged cultures aided by power-mongering, clueless leaders is as voluminous as the seven seas.
Rest assured, however, all is not doom and gloom. I have been equally impressed and touched by hundreds of positive examples over the years of a kinder, gentler form of leadership. Hopefully my own leadership of teams and people over 20 years exhibited such tendencies.
LEAD. CARE. WIN. was written to be a field guide, a handbook, a practical how-to manual of leadership behaviors. It’s a book to help us not only lead others but to lead ourselves.
It’s for those who are thinking about taking on a leadership role. “How do I lead people?” You think about inculcating the 9 lessons found within the book into your daily and long-term ways.
It’s for those who are already leading people. Use the book as an assessment against your own self-defined leadership tendencies and determine if there are gaps that need to be filled.
And finally, it’s for you, for me. As I was writing the book—weaving in caring leadership attributes and actions from 25 years of observations—I realized LEAD. CARE. WIN. ought to become a book for anyone seeking to improve their own self-leadership habits. Far too many of us consider the word “leadership” to be for those leading teams and organizations. It’s not; leadership starts with you. The lessons found within the book drill down at the manners in which you conduct yourself on a day-to-day basis. It’s an existential analysis. Painful at times, but necessary to become a better version of yourself tomorrow.
Remember, full potential is possible.
I look back now that the book is finally published on the hundreds of people I have observed and been fortunate to work with over 25 years. That itself is a very humbling experience, knowing that I have learned from so many – good or bad.
LEAD. CARE. WIN. pays homage to those people. It gets back to basics. If you want to win, you must care about your leadership habits, whether the lens is focused on you or others.
The book is about you and me and our quality of caring. I am blunt at times. But it’s because I care. A lot. About you and the people who surround us and deserve to be cared for.
In summary, the nine lessons found in the book are a distillation of my professional life of leading self, leading others, and working on the ground with hundreds of different leaders and organizations from all over the world. None of us, even though we may think we are at the top of our game, can deny that we can still all be better leaders, leaders who are more present, caring, curious, clear, and relatable.
I don’t want any more people coming up to me after a keynote (or a virtual one) literally in tears, discussing their leader.
LEAD. CARE. WIN.
Will you become a leader who matters?
More about LEAD. CARE. WIN. at the microsite.