My new book Herding Tigers: Be The Leader That Creative People Need is officially two months old!
Listen: I know you have a ton on your plate. Reading a book is a huge commitment of time and energy, and frankly it’s probably time and energy you don’t have.
I get it. I know what it feels like. I’ve even been there recently.
That said, I hope you know that I was thinking about you when I wrote Herding Tigers. This book is the culmination of over a decade of experiences and conversations with teams and leaders, parsing their observations from the true governing dynamics, and trying to get to the heart of a simple question: what do creative people really need in order to produce the best work of their life?
So, here’s what I hope happens for you when you read the book:
I want you to have a set of leadership rituals, conversations, and habits that keep you stable in the midst of the storm. Great leaders have great rituals. It’s what you repeatedly do that defines your leadership, not just whether you rise to the occasion when the pressure is on. In fact, it’s not those big “make or break” moments that take out most leaders, it’s the steady, unremitting drumbeat of sameness. Many leaders are taken out of the game by fail because they get sloppy in their relationships, in keeping the team inspired, or in protecting their team’s resources. I want you to have a set of rituals that you can rely on to keep you strong.
I want you to know and live out your personal definition of leadership success. Many – no, most – leaders don’t even know which target they are aiming for. They don’t have a clear definition of success, so they spend their days chasing vapor. Whatever’s urgent. Whatever’s screaming at them. Whatever’s going to give them the quickest path to… whatever everyone else defines as success. If you don’t have a clear definition of success as a leader, not only will you fail to accomplish all that you’re capable of, but you’ll also fail to provide your team with the stability and challenge it needs in order to thrive.
I want you to accelerate your career path. There are a lot of incompetent and/or insecure leaders out there. (Can I get an amen?) You may have even worked with some of them. A focused, competent, confident leader with a clear leadership philosophy and a honed set of skills will leapfrog over others who are simply trying to “wing it” with their talent. I want you to be the leader that every top creative wants to work for.
I want you to see dynamics no one else even knows exist. There are certain dynamics that are simply endemic to collaborative creative work. However, they’re often invisible even though they can seriously diminish your team’s ability to do its work. I want to give you the superpower of identifying those dynamics (like dissonance, normalization of deviance, expectation escalation, and others) before anyone else, and the tools to be able to nip them in the bud.
Finally, I want you to unleash the best work of your team. You are leaving too much value on the table. If you’ve hired (or inherited) talented, brilliant people, you owe it to them to create an environment in which they can thrive. Not just do great work, but thrive. You want to become the kind of organization where people are standing in line to get in, and I believe it can happen for you.
As I wrote in Herding Tigers:
“The greatest impact you have on the world will not be the things you made or the products you brought to market. It won’t even be the company you helped to build. The greatest impact you will have will be in the lives that are changed through your leadership, which happens as you build into and empower the people who follow you.”
I want you to be a leader who makes echoes.