The Secret to Great Leadership (Finally!)

As of the writing of this post, there are 59,581 results on Amazon when you search on “leadership” within the books search criteria. Several years ago, I just gave up. I couldn’t read another book. I expected every one to show me ‘the secret’ to great leadership. But, I was consistently disappointed and felt that I had been either fooled or that the author’s ideas only worked for a small subset of the population. I concluded that there was no secret. But, that could change, for me…

I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Todd Kashdan speak at last week’s Leadership and Positive Psychology Conference at GeorgeMason University about “psychological flexibility.” He defines this term, in part, as “moving in a direction you care about regardless of the emotional context.” Forget the arguments about whether leaders are born or made. Forget about ‘5-step’ models that guarantee leadership success. Focus on your ability to cope with change and adversity.

Leadership is a complex skill that comes more naturally to some people. But, change and adversity are conditions that every leader will face, at one time or another. Psychological flexibility, along with a nice dose of curiosity, makes it possible for leaders to see new ways of solving problems. It opens them up to new information while avoiding the urge to declare that there is only one way to fix a problem. It gives them the courage to move in different directions.

So, the next time that you are facing a crisis, replace your fear of the unknown with curiosity and watch how you and your team react.

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