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The Leader in You

Sally Haldorson

October 17, 2011

In Tribes, Seth Godin writes, "Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead. This scarcity makes leadership valuable. In other words, if everyone could do it, they would, and it wouldn’t be worth much.

In Tribes, Seth Godin writes, "Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead. This scarcity makes leadership valuable. In other words, if everyone could do it, they would, and it wouldn't be worth much." His book then gives evidence that leadership no longer has to come from the corner office, but that anyone no matter how atypical can 'step up.' If you have even a spark of a leader in you, Tribes will help you fan the flames.
So, you're inspired. You know you've got 'it.' The need to lead hums through your veins. You've worked your way up to the position you've always wanted. You've gathered your tribe. But then what? As a leader, what do you believe? As a leader, how do you communicate what you believe to the people who choose to follow? One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership by Mike Figliuolo is a simple step toward clarifying your own philosophy and sharing that philosophy with others. Figliuolo, who is Founder and Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC--a professional training firm focused on leadership development, is as efficient in introducing the premise of his book as the title implies:
Imagine being able to explain your leadership philosophy on one piece of paper--a simple 8.5-by 11-inch summation of all you are and all you want to be as a leader. How powerful would it be to have a discussion about that single page with the members of your team? They would be thrilled to have just one page to read, understand, and internalize. Envision how that one page could simplify and clarify how you want your team members to conduct themselves. Think about how impressed candidates and new hires would be if they could quickly understand your standards, expectations, and goals easily and from one single solitary page.
To do this, to distill your leadership philosophy into one page worth of words, Figliuolo says you must first evaluate four aspects of leadership and then create leadership maxims ("principles or rules of conduct") that are "clear, pithy, and personally meaningful." One Piece of Paper shows you how to create maxims that are emotionally charged and devoid of jargon (nobody wants to be instructed to think out of the box one more time in this lifetime, after all.) Much of Figliuolo's book is, of course, not only for learning about yourself, and what it means for YOU to be a leader, but about communication. It's about creating a vocabulary that has meaning and authenticity, but can also be understood by others, memorized and assimilated by the group. It's about a common language for your tribe.

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