As I wrote last week, I see some changes in my priorities for 2012. In 2012, much of my focus will return to leadership and leadership coaching. Of course, I will continue to give seminars, workshops and conferences about my work with e-marketing and around the book Email, social marketing, and the art of storytelling. I will continue to blog about the interesting issues I see in social media, and about storytelling and building brand communities. However, my new writing and research will mostly be in the realm of coaching and teaching leadership self-expression.
In fact, for much of the past year, I have been working on a book that explains how I coach inspirational communication in leaders, with examples from several of the corporate executives I have coached. While the manuscript should be complete by the end of next week, I still have no title that I am happy with. Two of my collaborators came up with the idea that we should co-create a title with our community of followers, so I may be soliciting ideas on this blog and on Facebook soon.
I have often found it tricky to come up with a good title. So, perhaps I will put the introduction on line so that people can see what the book’s subject matter and intent are. Then, we can look for the best title as a group effort. What do you think?
For several years, I have wanted to write a book that focuses directly on how I coach, since I like to believe that I have developed a unique and highly successful methodology for teaching someone to lead “by autobiography”. By this term, I mean that effective leaders learn to influence with their life stories. In other words, they motivate others by telling authentic stories of identity, stories of who they are, what they stand for, and why they do what they do. For all of us, finding our natural voice, and learning to influence our worlds by telling our personal stories of identity, are skills that we can develop through practice.
So, this is intended be a book for everyone, but particularly for people who ask: “Can everyone learn to lead?” Wherever I go to do leadership conferences and seminars, one of the most common questions is about whether leadership is indeed accessible to everyone. Many still seem to feel that leadership is only for the selected few. The misconception that leadership is a gift of birth, that “you either have it or you don’t”, is still prevalent in much of society.
In this vein, one of my goals in writing the book is to demystify leadership, in particular to refute the notion that it originates as an inborn gift granted to only a small number of individuals. My years of coaching and teaching have convinced me that becoming a leader is not reserved for the super talented. As is true for any complex activity, mastery of leadership and communication is more about determination and deliberate practice than about genius. Developing one’s capacity to lead is available to anyone who is willing to get on the leader’s path and stay on it.
Another objective of the book is to show a step-by-step course of action for leadership self-development. While it describes my coaching techniques, the text also provides a clear direction to individuals who seek to develop their leadership communication skills. I am convinced that anyone who embarks on this learning journey and practices with diligence will find ways to progress.
If I had to cite a single reason why most people fail to reach their potential as leaders, I would simply say that they do not stay on the path long enough or practice diligently enough. In my teaching, I often compare mastering leadership skills to mastering any activity, such as a sport or musical instrument. For example, most people reach their “limits” as skiers, golfers or violinists because they stop practicing deliberately enough to continue improving. The same holds true for honing our leadership and communication skills. We do not stay on the path long enough or diligently enough to keep pushing ourselves to new limits.
In a future blog, I will go more deeply into the concept of deliberate practice and exactly what it entails, for this is an interesting topic that certainly merits a longer discussion.
In closing out this blog for 2011, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who have read and commented during this year, and to wish you a prosperous 2012. May it be a year of pushing ourselves to new limits.