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Whether you call them a town hall meeting, an all-hands meeting, a quarterly business review, a state of the business address … I’m sure we’ve all had the opportunity to sit and listen to key business leaders within the companies we serve speak to the broader company.  Sometimes it is compelling, other times not so much.  And sometimes we are left with the thought … “what were they thinking”?

I have to admit that often times I wonder about that about key leaders I’ve been exposed to.  Not in the negative context that you might be imagining right now, but rather in the context of thoughts like:

  • what drives them?
  • how did they get to where they are today?
  • what is the essence of what makes them a good leader?

If you ever have the opportunity to sit and chat with a key business leader to explore these types of questions, jump at it!  Getting inside of the heads of those who lead your organizations, or other key leaders that you admire, is a gift that shouldn’t be underestimated.

In my post Making Informed Decisions the other day, I referenced a book that I was just beginning and wanted to share some thoughts on once I was finished.  That book is The Power of Being Yourself: A Game Plan for Success by Putting Passion Into Your Life and Work by Joe Plumeri.

It wasn’t really what I expected.  What I was expecting was another perspective of leadership principles that I could add to my leadership worldview.  Yes, the book has 8 principles outlined … and some of the perspectives he reveals I do value and will take to heart.

But this was really an autobiography … a rare glimpse into the personal and professional life of one of the industry’s (and right now First Data’s) influential leaders.  Whether you agree with everything in the book or not (and by the way, I did not), it really was an invaluable opportunity to understand what drives the man whom I have often heard speak at company events.  As I mentioned above, that perspective is a gift … and it has changed the way I think about the things he has said, how he has said them, and furthermore the intent behind the messages.

Let’s put it this way, there was something towards the latter part of the book that stated that people won’t always remember what you say when you present … but they will remember how it made them feel. In other words, leadership isn’t always about how much you know … but rather about whether you can inspire a group of people towards a common goal. Absolutely!

Like I said, for me as I read through the chapters, it was less about a true leadership book than it was about heart warming, and admittedly moving, stories about his family, upbringing, and chosen path.  It described how he became who he is today more-so than how to become a leader. But there were a few principles that stuck out:

  • Show the Way to Grandma’s House – This was all about building a sense of shared expectation about the future … about communicating in a fresh and fun way that people can understand.  What is your vision of where you are going? What is your passion?
  • Let Sadness Teach You – Not everyone will experience the personal loss that Joe speaks of.  But we’ve all experienced some level of sadness.  In a post called I Hate This Part of Leadership, I called them storms or wilderness moments.  The underlying message being you can’t always control the external circumstances around you … but you can control how you respond to them.
  • Play in Traffic – the essence of this one plays to the acronym NIHITO – Nothing Important Happens In The Office.  The goal of course aligning with the quote from Peter Drucker  … “The aim is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
  • You Gotta Have Purpose – In general, I agree  … See the posts Aristotle on Purpose, Character and Leadership or Passion, Purpose & Excellence for my views on this one.
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