Keith, CEO of a Fortune 500 financial organization, called with an intriguing project—one I’ve never been asked to repeat elsewhere, but one with fascinating results.

The Project

The CEO wanted to know how much I could discover about a person’s leadership style from their writing. “I don’t know; I’ve never had occasion to test my theories,” I told him, quite reluctant to take on what already sounded like an oddball way to lose a good client. He listened as I pointed out that someone might be a great leader, but just an incompetent writer and vice versa—how they might be an eloquent writer, but a lousy leader.

Granted, leaders gain visibility for their message by speaking at a major industry event, international conference, or even a local community affair. But just as with movies, games, and apps, leaders increase their popularity and influence to a tipping point when employees share their opinions of that leader with their colleagues.

Pop quiz here:

  • Do you sometimes second-guess yourself about decisions until opportunities pass?
  • Do colleagues and clients frequently seek your opinion on their big decisions?
  • Do you often get feedback on the quality of your contributions in meetings?
  • Do those meeting ideas produce the results you intend?

Like artists, wise leaders analyze and focus on a situation or problem. Then they decide and act. And even then, as theologian and author Oswald Chambers put it: “It’s never wise to be cocksure.”

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