Life Advice from Top Thought Leaders

leadership board room

Leadership Lessons

Early in his career, Rodger Dean Duncan interviewed interesting people like Lyndon Johnson, comedian Jack Benny, Baroness Maria von Trapp, pollster George Gallup, and anthropologist Margaret Mead. He traded jokes with Norman Rockwell and discussed home carpentry with Robert Redford.

Later, as a leadership consultant, he advised cabinet officers in two White House administrations and coached C-suite executives in dozens of Fortune 500 companies. He also headed global communications at Campbell Soup Company. He received his PhD in organizational behavior at Purdue University, and writes a regular column for Forbes.

Duncan’s latest book LeaderSHOP: Workplace, Career, and Life Advice From Today’s Top Thought Leadersis a collection of lessons from these interviews.

 

“You can rent a person’s back and hands, but you must earn his head and heart.” – Rodger Dean Duncan

 

Change Your View

Like you, I’ve interviewed many leadership experts. Were there any surprising interviews that gave you a different perspective?

The interviews for LeaderSHOP certainly provide some thought-provoking perspectives.

Drew Dudley emphasizes the value of regarding every new day as a fresh start and an opportunity for self-reflection on specific behaviors. Leadership, he says, is not a title or accolade. It’s a daily choice about personal practices. His Day One approach to personal management involves making your life less about living up to the expectations of others and more about a disciplined commitment to acting on your core values each day.

In discussing purpose and meaning at work, Dave and Wendy Ulrich highlight the importance of humility in the leader. Humility, they say, is at the heart of a growth mindset that encourages and unleashes learning that, in turn, gives meaning to work and fosters engagement.

Bill George talks about how “authentic” leadership is made possible when the practitioner follows an internal “true north” compass of selflessness and integrity.

Elizabeth Crook emphasizes that our gifts are found at the intersection of what energizes us and what we know how to do. Hint: it’s probably something you’ve been doing in one way or another most of your life.

Hugh Blane talks about a mindset he calls JDTM—Just Doing the Minimum—and how getting clarity on what lights your internal fire can be a critical step toward high achievement.

Rob Fazio gives specific examples of how honest conversation is the key to handling office politics. He also says that listening is bad for your health—that is, listening to discouraging messages from others or to negative self-talk.

Ann Rhoades, former Chief People Officer at Southwest Airlines, underscores the importance of rewarding behaviors that are the foundation of the culture you want—and taking quick and decisive action when expected behavioral norms are violated.

Social psychologist Dan Cable talks about a de-motivator he calls “learned helplessness,” and he explains how leaders can create a work environment that encourages smart risk.

Ira Chaleff reveals the secrets of saying “No!” without getting fired, explaining the situations in which refusing a directive is not insubordination but rather smart collaboration.

Jim Kouzes explains how a feedback-friendly work environment is to everyone’s benefit and why dialogue skills are a hallmark of effective leadership.

Carmine Gallo teaches communication techniques used by great presenters as disparate as Steve Jobs and Pope Francis. The “Rule of Three,” he says, has been used by everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Goldilocks.

Career coach Mary Abbajay discusses approaches to “managing up”—dealing proactively with an incompetent manager in a way that doesn’t derail your career. She suggests tactics ranging from keeping the manager (overly) informed to building your own reputation by filling in where the manager is deficient.

Marshall Goldsmith and Sally Helgesen talk about how striving for perfection can serve you well early in your career (because it supports doing outstanding work), but it can later hold you back because being so invested in precision can dissuade you from taking the kind of risks that characterize strong leaders.

Other people I interviewed—like Brian Tracy, Tom Rath, Jodi Glickman, Laura Vanderham, and Stephen M.R. Covey—provide a rich mosaic of ideas on leadership and personal development. People tell me the individual conversations are interesting, but the real value is having them all in one place that provides insightful “connective tissue.”

 

“Teamwork has been given a bad name by a world of bad practitioners.” – Rodger Dean Duncan

 

How Leaders Impact Culture

Culture is a big topic in leadership circles. Share a few ways leaders best impact culture for the positive.

7 Principles of Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership

 

The greatest asset of individuals, of teams, of organizations is their mindset. Not the corporate strategy. Not the product. Not even the market.

That’s what Hugh Blane teaches in his new book, 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership: Create a Mindset of Passion, Innovation, and Growth. Hugh is an expert at converting human potential into business results. His consulting firm, Claris Consulting, works with clients ranging from Starbucks to Nordstrom.

I recently spoke with Hugh about his leadership work.

 

“80% of a leader’s success is mental.” –Hugh Blane

 

80% of a Leader’s Success is Mental

In the introduction, you share a powerful story from your childhood and your conclusion that 80% of a leader’s success is mental. You’ve seen “mindset” make or break careers and businesses. How much is hardwired and how much is learned?

Mindset is almost all learned. I learned from my parents that money and financial security are fleeting; I learned from my high school track coach that I was a fast runner, and I learned from a mentor that I was capable of living a flourishing life rather than a floundering life. What’s interesting about the question of whether mindset is hardwired or learned is that all of our experiences hardwire our beliefs, we just don’t know it.

The good news is that when leaders understand that their words, actions and values are creating a mindset with employees and customers, they can hardwire the mindset of their choosing. By doing so, they harness the power of mindset not solely for themselves but also for their customers as well as their bottom line.

 

“The jumping off point for greatness is a clear and compelling purpose.” –Hugh Blane

 

Just do the minimum “JDTM”. Why is it so prevalent?

The number one reason is a lack of purpose. In The Purpose Principle, I say purpose is a hope, dream or aspiration that has grabbed hold of you and won’t let go. When employees and leaders have a purpose for their professional lives, they are more enthused, exert more energy, and are vastly more persistent. These are the employees that are running to work in the morning because of the contribution they want to make.

There are also employees that are running from work at the end of the day. These employees don’t have a purpose that is compelling, and they do enough work to keep their jobs and not get fired. But there is no fire in the belly, and they are simply going through the motions of work.

 

“Priorities without purpose are a catalyst for lower performance.” –Hugh Blane

 

Reclaim Your Past and Claim Your Future