Most popular blogs distill leadership into three magic bullets for success. Leaders prefer their information in bite-size chunks. They are too busy to read more than 800 words or watch a video longer than 2 minutes. (Don’t worry, this blog is only about 500 words—so keep reading!)
Turning leadership into clever platitudes drives me crazy. Blogs that take simple ideas and make them simplistic don’t do leaders any favors. Leadership is not simple. Leadership is a practice. Leadership is a practice that demands study, application, and continued skill building.
Why don’t we treat leadership with the respect of other professions? Do doctors operate on the three secrets for practicing medicine? Do CPAs have a fast track to practicing accounting? Do attorneys take a shortcut for practicing law? Do engineers skip the learning process necessary to practice engineering? The quality of your leadership determines the quality of your people’s work experience. Every day, you deliver information, feedback, or news that affects people’s work, livelihood, opportunities, status, income, mood, health, and well-being. Leadership is a practice that requires conscientious and continued effort.
Maybe the perceived dearth of leadership in the world is the lack of respect we give to the practice of leadership. Leadership is more than a title—it is something you actively do. Too many leaders do leadership poorly—at great cost to organizations, productivity, and the health and well-being of their people.
How could I, in good conscience, recommend quick fixes or pithy quotes as a substitute for practicing leadership? I teach in a two-year executive Master’s program at the University of San Diego. I have authored six books—three of them bestsellers—released a number of audio programs, delivered workshops globally, and published articles. I take leadership seriously.
Then I had an epiphany. I realized that if I implemented everything I’ve written and talked about, I’d be the greatest leader on the planet. Alas, probably like you, I am challenged to implement all the good ideas I get from reading a good how-to book (or writing one!) or attending seminars on leadership (or delivering one!). I came to see the potential of the blog. Could I get to the other side of this complicated topic with simple, elegant ideas that leaders can put into practice?
I decided to challenge myself to take the depth and complexity of leadership practice and design digestible nuggets for application. Distilling 25 years of studying, researching, and teaching motivation science into three questions is daunting. But here it goes.
- What choices did you make today?
- What did you find meaningful about your work today?
- What did you learn today that will help you be better tomorrow?
In upcoming posts, I’ll share compelling evidence and examples of how to use these seemingly simple, but robust, questions to help people experience optimal motivation at work every day. In the meantime, I hope you will try asking the questions and report on what happens. Let’s see where the practice of leadership takes you—and the people you lead.