The Best of Leadercast 2014

First, there is some exciting news on the book front. I received a copy of the final draft of Engage the Fox, which will be published in October 2014! I am looking forward to telling the behind the scenes story of Thaddeus P. Fox and The Toad Hollow Gazette.

IMG_4894 On May 14, I had the pleasure of attending a simulcast of Leadercast 2014. For anyone who has not attended a Leadercast, it’s a day that features a broad range of speakers including Desmond Tutu, Laura Schroff, Malcolm Gladwell, Dr Henry Cloud, Andy Stanley, Simon Sinek, Bill McDermott, Laura Bush and others. The broadcast site is in Atlanta and there are 746 remote sites across 21 countries. In the past, Leadercast was geared towards a mainly Christian audience but they have shifted the audience to people interested in leadership in general. The only mention of religion came from Braveheart writer Randall Wallace who seemed to assume a Christian audience and, while entertaining, he did not seem to be as on message as the others. Leadercast focuses on Beyond You leadership and reinforced the emerging idea that the old way of making decisions focused solely on profit is not working anymore. In a study they commissioned from The Barna Group, they found that only 1 in 5 employers think they have a good leader and poor leadership is the reason most of them will leave their jobs. Too many companies kick down whereas good leaders put their teams first: “Let them rest, while you dig your boots in the mud and carry on,” a Leadercast video implored. Beyond You Leadership recognizes that it’s far better to grow legacy companies that will make a difference over the long term rather than to lurch from quarter to quarter. Here were some of the highlights of the day: Andy Stanley. Stanley is the lead pastor of North Point Church, but don’t let that put you off. He’s a heck of a leadership expert and his Leadercast talk was entirely secular in nature. He is very quotable and here are some of my favourites:

Beyond You leaders fearlessly and selflessly empower leaders around them as well as those coming along behind them. Beyond You leaders make as few decisions as possible and empower other people to make decisions. Beyond You leaders load people their influence and ask others, “What can I do to help?” Beyond You leaders empty their cups. Ask yourself what talents can you give away to bring up the next generation of leaders. If your leadership isn’t all about you, it will live beyond you.

Dr Henry Cloud. Dr Henry Cloud is a clinical psychologist who counsels CEOs about leadership. He has written some excellent books on setting boundaries both in and out of the workplace. I have started reading Boundaries for Leaders, which promises to be an excellent book about effective leadership. He emphasizes that leaders lead people: real human beings with brains and hearts and lives. He said, “The human heart, above all else, wants to be known and understood.” Leaders who understand this will have teams who are happy to follow them. Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The most delightful speaker was Archbishop Desmond Tutu. His laugh was absolutely infectious. He spoke about the leadership qualities of his good friend Nelson Mandela. I loved these particular quotes:

Imagine a world where leaders … had a pure motive of doing what’s right and improving the lives of all. A person is a person through other persons. You are you because of others.

Laura Schroff. Laura Schroff was the most moving of all the speakers. She wrote The Invisible Thread, the story of how her decision, as a young sales executive, to treat an 11-year old panhandler to lunch changed both their lives. She talked about personal leadership and how making transformational change does not always have involve grand gestures. My favourite quotes from her speech were as follows:

All we have to do is open up our eyes and heart to see the opportunity to help our lives and others. We can teach people to be kind, but we must live by example.

Malcolm Gladwell.  I was most looking forward to Gladwell’s speech as his newest book, David and Goliath, talks about unlikely leaders who push through hardships and climb seemingly insurmountable obstacles. His talk focused on why people follow certain leaders. “The real reason people follow leaders is that they perceive that authority to be legitimate,” he said. People won’t follow a leader simply because of a job title. “Unless you enact authority in a way that is fair, respectful and trustworthy, people won’t follow your lead,” he said. Bill McDermott. McDermott runs SAP’s US operations. While his leadership style seemed a little more old school than the others (consistent with SAP’s reputation) he was an entertaining speaker. My favourite quotes were:

Everyone is so busy telling everybody what to do, they forget to listen.

The first thing that has to change is the headset about what’s possible.

Have an audacious, bold dream for who you are and what you mean to this world.

Simon Sinek. My favourite speaker was Simon Sinek, who wrote Start With Why and is a popular TED talk speaker. He defines leadership as “the daily practice of putting others before ourselves.” He talked about the golden circle where you start with asking the question Why. Rather than asking what do we want to sell, ask why are we in business? Why do people want to do business with us? Why do our employees want to come to work? Once the why is established, figuring how to do this and what products and services to offer is easy. I’ll be offering a review of his book shortly. Here are some of my favourite quotes from his talk:

Leadership is neither a rank nor a title: it’s a choice. Give employees the opportunity to be the leaders they wish they had. Leadership is a responsibility, not a rank. Military leaders eat last. Don’t refer to head counts, refer to heart counts. Are you going to reduce the number of hearts in your organization to balance your books? Leaders will sacrifice themselves so that others may gain. Take responsibility for your actions at the time you commit your actions, not when you get caught.

Next year, Leadercast is taking place on May 8, 2015. If you are interested in leadership, you may wish to consider it for your calendar.

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