Leadership Leaversmith

False Identity

Business school bestowed an extra, unstated diploma upon me. Sure, I received the faux sheepskin one, properly bound in a green leather case, with a more powerful, insidious, tacit one invisibly attached.

After those full-immersion years of case studies, conferences, and cow-towing, I fancied myself some kind of leader. Other than getting myself chosen as the chapter head of a small student organization, I’d had little practical experience, and certainly no large-scale strategic involvement in anything. But I carried that attitude, that confident mindset that, given half a chance, my presence would improve any organization.

My first wife would ask what had happened to me, and I would respond absolutely baffled by her question. I felt on top of an expanding world, powerful in ways I had never before imagined. Sure, I worked long uncompensated hours as a management trainee, but I was working with the big dogs, ... digging, it would turn out, really big holes. Slip over here for more ...


Lost In Translating

I might be a master at simultaneously translating. You might be every bit as masterful, too. Meaning-making and sense-making seem to demand no less from each of us. A difficulty emerges, though, because I’m rarely very aware of the substitutions I’m so seamlessly making. I don’t suffer from this perfectly human form of mindlessness, and even when I find myself suffering, I almost never understand that I’m the source. I could, in a more perfect world, always choose to translate in ways that would delight me, but I don’t often even catch myself translating.

So, my month-long challenge to catch myself translating whenever I encounter the ‘L’ word, what I’ve quite deliberately chosen to translate into ‘leaversmith,’ has rendered me a tiny bit more mindful. Of course, my newly-hatched mindfulness feels slightly crazy, like a more deliberate form of mindlessness, but I could claim the same effect from any habit-breaking practice. Slip over here for more ...



The headline insisted that we’d lost a great leader, though the story beneath the fold reported bi-polar opinions of her greatness. This story got me thinking about the great leaders I’ve known. What made them so great?

Here, I feel obliged to start listing attributes: behaviors, habits, and actions intended to describe their greatness. Maybe I could throw in a model that cleverly summarizes the universal attributes of greatness, leader-wise. I could even subscribe to one or another theory of greatness and pontificate. My bookshelves groan under the weight of competing theories of greatness. Slip over here for more ...



The very mention of leadership induces deep feelings of disappointment in me. It seems to dredge up failings rather than successes; ones I’ve witnessed as well as all the other’s I created all by myself, Lucy-holding-the-football scenarios I already know will turn out poorly. Mount the stage, fall on my face.

Some of the leadership gurus explain that continuous improvement looks exactly like this, serial faceplants, slightly different every time. Maybe the same tune, but with key changes in between. Whatever, leadership slips beyond risky into certainty. Set ‘em up. knock ‘em down.

This sounds pessimistic, I know. Slip over here for more ...



My first step into leadershiplessness might have offended some of my dearest friends. After half a lifetime in the leadership industry, I list many prominent leaders as dearest friends, so when I come out on this little stage to swear off the label to our shared life-blood experience, some might have concluded that I’d just slipped over that thin edge into delusional. I meant no disrespect.

Of course I was engaging in what we introverts do so well: blurting. It’s our greatest gift and, sometimes, our very worst enemy. My moments of greatest inspiration have all come from blurting. My greatest humiliations, too. I’ve spent much of my life canned up trying to tame this wild beast. It’s usually better for me when I open my can of worms with little deliberation. Though I might appear insensitive then, at least I appear. Slip over here for more ...