As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in my post about New Year's resolutions, I've been reading Kevin Eikenberry's book, "Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time." The book opens with the question, "Are leaders made or born?" - and Kevin provides the answer: Leaders are made.
Sure, we all know people who seem to be "born leaders" and make it look easy, but the premise of this book is that remarkable leaders learn many of the things that make them remarkable. I agree with that premise - I know people with great charisma, brilliant ideas, and other things traditionally associated with great leaders. But I've known some great leaders, and their leadership goes beyond charisma and great ideas. Remarkable leadership is about what leaders do day in, day out - and how they learn from their interactions with others.
This book feels like an "on demand mentor" for developing your skills as a leader.
What do you need?
Eikenberry provides a bunch of "modules" in this book, each focused on analyzing and developing a narrow facet of leadership. In addition to background and case studies he provides a bunch of little self-assessments to get you to think about what you really need to be a better leader. I found these assessment questions to be very focusing, and they helped me decide which chapters I needed most.
Why not just read the whole book? Sure - you can (and you probably should). But another cool thing I found in this book is a description of 3 other ways to use the book:
- Start with a quick read, and then decide where to focus.
- Browse quickly, then decide where to start.
- Start with the skill you are most interested in.
In the first two options, the self-assessments are excellent tools to guide your choices (for the third, I guess you could use the table of contents).
How do you improve?
One of the core tenets I took away from this book is that leaders develop themselves so that they may more effectively develop and lead others. That means taking steps to improve yourself. Good news: Eikenberry provides a lot of prescriptive guidance in this book to help you.
For example, in one chapter on developing remarkable relationships, Eikenberry introduces the concept of a "trust thermostat" to help you analyze the level of trust within the teams you lead. This tool is a great way to bring some objective analysis to team dynamics. But wait, there's more! Eikenberry then turns the concept on its head. Instead of talking about how to get the team to trust you, he guides you through an exercise designed to get you to develop a new habit. That habit is to reset your default level of trust in others, so that you start from a more trusting baseline.
Side note: Resetting your trust thermostat isn't just about new relationships - you can start it at any time, with anyone. Simply decide that you will begin treating people as though you trust them implicitly, and you'll notice that you begin to approach an interact with others in a different way. And this book provides tools to make it easier.
Of course, there are also a lot of other tools to help you coach, influence, and develop others but you'll make progress exponentially more quickly if you start with improving your own skills and habits.
Additional resources abound
Along the lines of this book being your "on demand mentor," you get a lot of additional resources when you buy this book:
- The book is loaded with a bunch of "Bonus Bytes" that give you online access to additional resources and deeper-dive resources on all of the topics.
- The book also points out specific "Remarkable Principles" throughout its pages to help you learn valuable concepts.
- There's a companion website with a bunch of awesome content.
- If you want Kevin and his team to help you, there's always the Remarkable Leadership Learning System to accelerate your results.
You can be a remarkable leader
A few months ago, I actually met Kevin Eikenberry, and have come to know him much better through the stories in this book. His mission is to develop Remarkable Leaders in this world. Why shouldn't you be one of them?
If you want to learn to be a better leader, pick up a copy of Remarkable Leadership and get started.
Still not convinced? Check out the sample chapters of Remarkable Leadership and get a taste of what's in store.