Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life

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Leadership from the Inside Out, Kevin Cashman’s breakthrough business bestseller that clearly connected personal growth to leadership effectiveness, is now completely revised and updated with:

• an explosion of new validating independent research

• impressive new case studies

• new tools and practices

• an even more powerful virtual coaching experience 

Still framed in seven simple yet profound “mastery areas,” this book serves as an integrated coaching experience that helps leaders understand how to harness their authentic, value-creating influence and elevate their impact as individuals, in teams, and in organizations. Cashman demonstrates that his trademark “whole-person” approach—we lead by virtue of who we are—is essential to sustained success in today’s talent-starved marketplace and provides a measurable return on investment. For everyone from CEOs to emerging leaders, this long-awaited second edition advances the art and science of leadership and is even more relevant today than when it was first published.

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CHAPTER ONE: PERSONAL MASTERY

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I once heard a poignant story about a priest who was confronted by a soldier while he was walking down a road in pre-revolutionary Russia. The soldier, aiming his rifle at the priest, commanded, “Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there?” Unfazed, the priest calmly replied, “How much do they pay you?” Somewhat surprised, the soldier responded, “Twenty-five kopecks a month.” The priest paused, and in a deeply thoughtful manner said, “I have a proposal for you. I’ll pay you fifty kopecks each month if you stop me here every day and challenge me to respond to those same three questions.”

How many of us have a “soldier” confronting us with life’s tough questions, pushing us to pause, to examine, and to develop ourselves more thoroughly? If “character is our fate,” as Heraclitus wrote, do we step back often enough both to question and to affirm ourselves in order to reveal our character? As we lead others and ourselves through tough times, do we draw on the inner resources of our character, or do we lose ourselves in the pressures of the situation?

 

CHAPTER TWO: PURPOSE MASTERY

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Core Purpose is the high performance intersection where our talents and our values come together. It is the value-creating, catalytic moment when our gifts make a difference. When we split off our values from our talents, or vice versa, we compromise purpose … and enduring performance.

About a year ago, Benton came to us for coaching. While he was highly valued by his company for his results and intellect, he was so entrenched in non-listening and aggressive behavior I thought coaching would be hopeless. I honestly didn’t think it would be worthwhile to invest the resources to coach him. At first it was a struggle, but eventually Benton surprised us and genuinely engaged in the process. We helped him to see that his Core Talents—his intellect, drive for results, ability to get things done—were coming through consistently at work. However, at times his Core Values—compassion and connection—were not. Interestingly, when working with his own team, Benton’s Core Talents and Core Values were present and operating in sync. The same was true at home. Benton was a popular coach of his daughter’s soccer teams. He was present and involved with his wife and other members of his family. But when interacting with his peers and higher-level leaders, Benton introverted his Core Values. He split them off from his Core Talents. In these situations, he was competitive, closed, and defensive. His talents became liabilities. A big shadow was cast because his values were hidden with certain groups. Benton surprised us. Once he realized what he was doing, he found the awareness and new behaviors energizing. He wanted to change. His HR person called us and said, “This is incredible. Never in my career have we seen such a remarkable transformation.” Now, the feedback from Benton’s peers and higher-level managers is that he is listening, and he is improving significantly in building trust. Occasionally, he will slip. But more often than not, he catches himself and steps forward with both his talents and values. Once Benton got the whole picture, saw the consequences of splitting off his values from his talents, he was committed to working toward being in that sweet spot, Core Purpose, more often.

 

CHAPTER THREE: INTERPERSONAL MASTERY

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Martin was an incredibly gifted executive; his talent and intelligence were apparent in everything he did. At early stages of his career his cognitive and intellectual skills helped him to excel in many challenging, complex assignments around the globe. As his achievements advanced, Martin started to believe “his press” and internalized the belief that “he was the person who made things happen at his organization.” He began to lose touch with the synergy that was supporting his accomplishments. He thought he was the prime mover, and in reality his teams were the ones creating and supporting his achievements. Gradually his relationships and team dynamics started to become strained, and he couldn’t understand why. To help him break through his self-limiting view, we asked him to outline each key event in his life over the past few years by focusing on the people that made each event possible. It didn’t take him long to recognize the web of interdependence that was supporting his success. He became aware of initiatives for which he had taken credit and for which he now needed to acknowledge others. He was beginning to bridge personal power with synergy power to enhance his contribution.

 

CHAPTER FOUR: CHANGE MASTERY

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The north shore of Lake Superior is really an awesome sight. The lake is an inland sea unlike any other—the largest body of fresh water in the world. Cool, fresh pine scents the air. Black, rocky cliffs form an imposing backdrop as they disappear into the water’s edge. Waterfalls tumble down rivers rushing to their destinations. As calming and refreshing as Superior is, she also is dangerously unpredictable. At a moment’s notice, her calm temperament can become a raging force, swallowing huge ships whenever she pleases. Remember Gordon Lightfoot’s song about the Edmund Fitzgerald? The Edmund Fitzgerald was one of her victims.

Growing up in Minnesota, at a young age I received serious warnings about the Great Lake from my elders: “You can only survive the cold water of Superior for four or five minutes.” In the spirit of adventure (some might say the spirit of foolishness), I decided to swim the lake.

Donning my wet suit (I’m not completely crazy), I entered the water. As I dove in, the cold water overwhelmed me. It felt breathtakingly, bone-achingly cold. In the first couple of minutes, I believed all the advice of my upbringing. I was sure I could not handle the cold. Then the water in my wet suit started to warm up and everything changed. I became intensely aware of being the only human in this huge watery mass. As I swam near the shore, I closely watched the spears of light passing through the gentle waves. When I swam further into its depth, the blackness of unbelievably deep drop-offs appeared and revealed the lake’s immensity. After a short distance, new underwater cliffs and rock formations came into view. Swimming from point to point, I met with an odd mix of feelings. Ecstatic one moment and fearful the next, I sensed that all my emotions were possible and heightened as I explored during this first-time experience.

 

CHAPTER FIVE: RESILIENCE MASTERY

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In preparing to write this book, I personally interviewed 62 CEOs and presidents of corporations. The purpose of these meetings was to solicit their views regarding our leadership models and to have them challenge our viewpoints. Additionally, we conducted a survey to discover which areas of mastery corporate leaders perceived as most relevant to their leadership effectiveness and which areas they viewed as the most challenging. The results of our interviews were very clear-cut: 75 percent of the CEOs and presidents saw Personal Mastery as the most relevant to their leadership effectiveness, while 67 percent saw Interpersonal Mastery as the second most relevant. However, 92 percent of them selected Resilience Mastery as the most challenging personally.

For most leaders I meet, balancing work and home life still is a lofty, never-achieved goal. Yet, the more I encounter the time-oriented, mechanistic formula of work/life balance (i.e., working a certain number of hours, exercising four times a week, spending a certain number of evenings a week with family), the less useful and relevant I find it. Although each day brings nearly impossible demands on our time, with too many meetings, obligations, and 24/7 connectivity in a global marketplace, it is our resilience and energy that are stressed daily, not the clock. Most days begin like a sprint and then turn into a triathlon of meetings, e-mails, and presentations. Let’s face it, “time is a finite resource.” We get 24 hours, no matter how we carve it up. However, shifting our focus from time management to energy leadership can allow us to discover our own unique formula for sustained energy and resilience throughout each day. When we are calm and focused, we are more on top of the demands of leadership. Conversely, when our energy is low or manic, everything seems on top of us.

 

CHAPTER SIX: BEING MASTERY

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Being is our essence, the source of our character, the core of who we are. Being supports and drives all our energy, achievement, effectiveness, and contribution. Accessing and expressing Being—our innermost Self—is a key to leading with presence, authenticity, and dynamism. Although this may be unfamiliar territory to many people, we can learn practices for leading from this deepest presence.

Exploring Being is an ongoing journey that is particularly helpful to Leadership from the Inside Out. Early in my life, I learned to explore Being through meditation. Although meditation is a technique that works for me, it certainly is not the only one. Meditation is only one way. Many other ways are just as effective and easily accessible to us in our everyday lives. We will consider some of these in this chapter, as we have throughout the book. Regardless of the technique or techniques we choose, it’s important to understand that these practices are merely bridges to opening ourselves up, “paying attention,” as scientist and author Jon Kabat-Zinn would say, and accessing deeper, more silent levels of ourselves.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN: ACTION MASTERY

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Leadership from the Inside Out is the ongoing development journey to discover and apply the talents and values that fuel purpose in order to drive a positive impact on the world around us. By incorporating the principles of each mastery area into our lives, we deepen our authenticity, heighten our influence, and increase the value we create. We forge a formidable, yet agile platform from which to learn and to lead. Action Mastery is a continuous process, through coaching ourselves and others, to pull together our potentialities in order to go beyond what is … inside and out. Paul Reilly, Chairman of Korn/Ferry International, heightens the compelling need to take action to coach and develop key leaders: “In five years, 50 percent of all C-Level executives will retire. Therefore, the need has never been more urgent to cultivate key talent, to make coaching a part of each leader’s development plan, and to recognize leadership potential at every level of organizations.” As a result, Action Mastery gives us the focused inner and outer plan to serve our constituencies.

 

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