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23 Dec 2013

Leadership, The Secret (Pt 4): Leadership Riddle

This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series Leadership - The Secret

Leadership has many definitions. It brings to mind the attempts to define such things as love and beauty. Sometimes, when trying to define a problem, it can help to define what something is not rather than what it is. I’m reminded of those high school science experiments in which we boiled off the water leaving whatever was in it, distillation I believe. It’s also similar to making soup stock: boiling off water so the concentrated, intense flavors of the ingredients remain.

This leadership riddle does the same. By “boiling off” the extraneous things that often dilute the concept of leadership, we can now experience the concentrated, truer flavor it offers:

Leadership Riddle


A Tough Question . . .

with A Tough Answer . . .

for Tough People


If you took away “doing it for the company” as a reason as well as “doing it for the division,”

If you also took away the client as one as well as the money to be earned,

Along with all the trophies and recognition awards,

And finally eliminated “because I said so” and “do it or else,”

How would you inspire your people to do the things that you need them to do?

Once you found the answer, could you do it?


Now . . . that’s a leader.


What’s left? Essentially, this riddle strips away the formal structures leaving the informal ones.  The fundamental implication is that people are more moved by what they like than what they understand.  Understanding strategies, plans, rules, procedures, policies, command structures, and ideas pale to the inspiration people receive from relationships, from people they like. Relationships are the secret to change, the secret to leadership and cultivating relationships is a power inherent in our personalities.


Series Navigation<< Leadership, The Secret (Pt 3): Leader as ActorLeadership, The Secret (Pt 5): Persona >>

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