September 15, 2008
This is an unplanned post that has suddenly become important to me. I received the new book I ordered from Amazon earlier this afternoon by Thomas Friedman. The book is called “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America”. This best seller has been generating some buzz among its readers as the popular New York Times columnist releases his follow up to his best selling book, The World is Flat.
I ordered it after a recommendation on Seth Godin’s blog and I am happy I did. Since opening the cover I have not been able to put it down. Though I am only three chapters in, I can see why this book is getting so much attention. Friedman’s raw presentation of the facts mixed with expert opinions and cutting edge thinking builds with every page. This book has the potential to be a defining book of the times, as the thoughts and ideas presented challenge the very way we live.
Yesterday I wrote about America’s potential place in the global economy, and really the mindset that we have to take on to rebuild our country and thrive again. This book hits on those points hard, with one of the main messages coming across as part warning, part challenge, and part hope. Friedman paints us as a society whose lifestyle and policies have done all but ignore and deny the biggest problem facing our planet, but as a society with the ability within to lead the way back.
His brilliant commentary on historical events and turning points that have led up to today only fuels the hopeful empowerment that he delivers page after page. As Americans, what we need to do is admit that we have all been part of the problem, then work to solve it. Don’t be so cocky as to ignore the issues, but be cocky enough to believe we can fix them. Because in the past, any time we united for a common cause, we came out on top.
This book is the most recent addition to my recommended reading page. It calls on innovation from every perspective, and a must read for anyone wishing to move this country forward.
June 29, 2008
The qualities of a strong leader are hard to quantify. Whether you are leader of an organization, the leader of a nation, or just the leader of a family, it takes a variety of qualities to get the job done. Many have written about the characteristics that you must possess to lead people to accomplish great things.
Can someone learn to be a leader or are the great leaders born that way? I cannot answer that question, however there is one thing that defines strong leaders the world over. It is an innate ability to empower the people around you. You do not always have to know what to do, or be able to see the right moves. But the ability to surround yourself with the right people who can get the job done, and then let them do what it is they are there to do, will always give you better results than you would get on your own.
Empowering others involves providing the right structure to give everyone in an organization a voice. The free flow of information will always result in new ideas and new direction. As a leader, you have to have the foresight to clear the path and allow others to speak for you. You have to be confident in yourself and others simultaneously. You have to let your ego aside and allow things to happen without interference. The greatest leaders have not always come up with the ideas that lead to innovation, they recognize others who have the ideas and put them in a position to speak.
When people feel free to express themselves, they have the confidence to get things done. By limiting the voices of those around you, you narrow the possibilities and lead to compromised decisions. To be a truly great leader, you have to be able to encourage growth within every aspect of an organization. Then, and only then, will the greatest ideas make their way to the front of the line.
With this is in mind, it seems that great leaders can learn the skills necessary to lead. Some people are born to lead, but we all have the ability to choose to lead. Leadership is about people, and the people you lead will guide you along the way. Empower those around you and you will find that they have the solutions you are looking for.