Choosing To Lead (a book review)

As we walk daily through COVID-19, at times it seems minute by minute, we observe leadership. Regardless of the outcomes and personal opinions of decisions, we are learning what choices mean to leadership.

After finishing Harvey Kanter’s book Choosing to Lead, I’d encourage all leaders of any position to use your downtime in the next few weeks to dialogue with it. He addresses several practical and vital aspects of leadership such as communication, optimism, values, curiosity, humility, and decisiveness. His definitions are experientially based; his directions are growth oriented. His encouragement is that many people have position to lead but have yet to actually choose to do it, and pursue doing it well. Kanter doesn’t claim to have all the answers; maybe that’s why his thoughts are worth considering. His words model his values based on his choices. Below are a dozen highlights.

  • I am not my resume.
  • Leaders keep seeking answers until they find them…asking questions is paramount to leading well.
  • When a leader is seen “doing what needs to be done,” a precedent is established for the team that you need to jump in and take action, not wait for someone else to act.
  • Your ability to learn through the unexpected will grow your leadership capacity…the kind of leader you are shows up in adversity.
  • Your ability to grow is in direct correlation to your level of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Your orientation towards learning will either stretch you to expand your thinking or constrain you to live in a static world.
  • A confident leader is one who recognizes the best qualities in others without being threatened.
  • We like to work with people we can believe in. We tend to believe in people who genuinely believe in themselves.
  • Leading people in sharing their views, risking that they may be misunderstood or that their view may not be appreciated by others, is a critical leadership skill.
  • Trying things new and unfamiliar stimulates subconscience problem-solving, forcing you to see things from a new point of view.
  • Actions are the truest reflection of values.
  • Accountability requires vulnerability.
  • The smartest people surround themselves with even smarter people.

Vulnerability

One effort, and it is for me, to achieve better and deeper this year is to listen to more podcasts. I don’t tend to follow every episode of a podcast; therein lies my effort. Rather than just tune in for every episode dropped, I have to search for episodes that speak to what I’m looking to receive, areas of growth I need to pay attention to.

My friend Mark cohosts a podcast called The Next Man Up. His target audience is fathers. Since I’m not his target, I tend not to tune in to every episode. Reality is, though, most of the content is for men in general; so regardless of your stage of life as a man, you get something from each episode.

For example, I just listened to Episode #91. The subject is vulnerability, which men stink at. I’m not the worst at it, but I’m not the best either. But I know this, if a podcast episode has the name Brene Brown in the show notes, I’m probably going listen. I haven’t regretted doing so yet.

Guys, I’m not going to rehash the episode’s content. Odds are pretty high you need to get better in this area also. Click on the link. It’s a good use of thirty minutes today.