Are You a Leadership Rule-Breaker?

Is there one definition of leadership, or is it dangerous to classify such a broad and diverse topic with such a narrow view?

Recently, Predictable Success founder Les McKeown spoke with David Gardner about leadership, the media, myths and much more, on the Rule Breaker Investing podcast:

I encourage you to listen to the entire episode — it’s truly fascinating, and a deep dive into leadership and what compelled Les to create an entire organization around the topic, but I was particularly struck by one section of the conversation…

…Les’ two-minute description of successful leadership.

You have to have a group of senior leaders who have self-awareness and who believe that they can harness the power of leadership throughout the entire organization.

Self-awareness allows senior executives to believe that all members of the team can become leaders themselves.

You can start small, or you can start big. You can start early, or you can start late. But the only way to truly lead is to start from where you are, right now.

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All of this had me wondering: does leadership, or the pursuit of leadership growth, require us to break some rules?

For some context, my Predictable Success styles mix tells me I’m primarily a Processor, with a smaller Operator style mixed in, which means that I’m naturally motivated to systematize and supervise. In other words, I like rules. I love predictability.

  • The Visionary is motivated to start new things and to solve problems.
  • The Operator is motivated to finish tasks and fix things.
  • The Processor is motivated to systematize and supervise.

The Synergist, which is a style and a role anyone can learn, can put aside their own agenda and interpret the language of different personalities, capture the best from each person and put the good of the enterprise ahead of their own egos.

But my love of systems isn’t shared by everyone — certainly not the Visionaries that I often work with or work for. So, in order to convince my colleagues and teammates that my process is worth considering, I’m almost forced to ask people to suspend their beliefs about what leadership in my role looks like.

For me to succeed, and to not only get the support of my V-O-P-S styles mix colleagues, I am often breaking some conventions or rules about how things have been done before, or how others feel they should be done.

The same can likely be said for my friends who are primarily a Visionary, or an Operator, or even a Synergist. Even when they are pursuing team initiatives or asking for others to contribute and bring different styles mixes to the conversation, I imagine they feel some natural dissonance when they’re pushed to do something in a different way or trust that the other perspectives are as if not more valuable than their own.

By the way — Les dives into the organizational side of this when he discusses the Predictable Success model:

But that’s another topic altogether (one you can learn more about here!).

Here’s the takeaway I had after listening to Les and David speak, and after reflecting on my own experience with the Predictable Success leadership styles:

Anyone can lead. Yes, anyone (so that includes you, friend!). But the pursuit of leadership takes strength, conviction, belief in our own abilities and a passion for aligning our actions to goals.

We can only control what we can control and today — like every other day — the most critical piece of the journey is showing up and doing the hard work. Trust the process, but don’t miss opportunities to lead and grow.

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