It’s rare for me to get as enthused about a leadership book as I am about Mike Myatt’s Hacking Leadership. Mike’s extensive experience as the CEO Coach has provided him a deep understanding of the issues facing leaders today and specific actions they can take to understand and navigate by understanding the gaps that can be detrimental to them. I honestly think this leadership book is one of the most relevant and honest to come along in years. Learn more about it below, and then pick up a copy for yourself or others you know who can benefit from its fresh take on what’s needed by leaders today.
What prompted you to write this book, Hacking Leadership, now? I actually told myself I wasn’t going to write another book, and we see how well that worked out. All kidding aside, I feel that many leaders are simply overwhelmed with the demands and complexities they encounter on a daily basis. I wanted to offer them a roadmap to becoming more effective leaders by helping them to identify leadership gaps and blind spots and provide them with “hacks” that would allow them to close said gaps and eliminate said blind spots. Leaders with better clarity of vision and purpose simply do better than those who live in the fog. I wanted to give leaders a prescription that would help focus them on the things they are likely currently failing to see.
What important message do you want leaders to take away from your book? All leaders have blind spots. They call them blind spots for a reason – you can’t see them. The problem is far too many leaders would prefer to believe they have it all figured out rather than go in search of their blind spots. They would rather talk about what they know than pursue what they don’t know, and they’re often more concerned about being right than producing the right outcomes. Leadership is a demanding calling, and a trade craft that requires much of those who call themselves leader. Hacking Leadership will help readers better prepare for their leadership journey.
Why do we need to “hack” leadership rather than embrace it, develop it, or learn about it? I would view hacking leadership as doing all three in a very intentional, relevant and actionable fashion. Consider a “hack” to be a practical application of learning and development. It’s more than embracing leadership, it’s owning your responsibility to lead well. The leadership hacks outlined in the book take time tested leadership principles and make them relevant to the world you live in today by adding context, color, and a methodology for implementation.
I am increasingly becoming concerned about the demands leaders and their organizations are up against to become competitive in the global space. I find many neglect the parts of their life that will best support them and noticed you have a chapter entitled “Hacking Your Family Life”. What advice do you have for leaders in that realm? One of the great myths is that of work/life balance. Leaders need to immediately stop trying to balance their family and make them THE priority. Rationalize, justify, and wax eloquent all you like, but you simply cannot be an effective leader with a personal life in shambles. However, when your personal life is thriving so will your professional life. You can have it all, but not through balance. The dream is only truly lived out when there exists no duality of who you are at home and the person you are at work. There’s some pretty hard-hitting content on this topic in the book – something every leader should read.
You state that, “…at it’s core, leadership is about improving the status quo, inspiring positive change, and challenging conventional thinking. ” We seem to be lacking role models for this mindset. Can you name any current popular leaders who embody the kind of leadership you describe here? I’ve always said, “leadership exists to disrupt mediocrity.” So this begs the question, why do we have so many mediocre leaders? The answer is that many leaders simply lack the courage necessary to truly lead well. I’m particularly taken by leaders who take great personal risk to propel others forward. I have great admiration for those who speak the truth even when others may not be ready for it – for those who have the vision to act upon what others settle for only thinking about. I would consider leaders like Elon Musk, Malala, Bruce Broussard, Aung San Suu Kyi, Jeff Bezos, Indra Nooyi, Brian Kibby, and Richard Branson are some of my favorites.
I love your advocacy of white space (“time for clear thought”) for leaders. What I’ve noticed is that this is so antithetic to what leaders think is expected of them – to do, do, and do more. How do you make the case for slowing down to become more effective to leaders? I’m not sure I agree that creating time for white space constitutes slowing down. I actually think white space is an accelerant, a catalyst if you will. That said, the perception you described is prevalent, which is why many leaders are fearful to embrace the many significant benefits white space could afford them. Busyness is a badge of honor only worn by the insecure, the impulsive, the insincere or the immature. Mature leaders understand they must spend a significant portion of their time in thought about the future, about what’s next, about what if, and about what lies beyond the outcome. Acting well, executing well, and engaging well only comes AFTER thinking well.
Mike Myatt, is a leadership advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs and Boards, is widely regarded as America’s Top CEO Coach, recognized by Thinkers50 as one of the preeminent leadership thinkers globally, is the author of Leadership Matters, a Forbes leadership columnist, a Senior Fellow at The Gordian Institute, and serves as chief executive officer at N2growth. His latest book Hacking Leadership (Wiley) will be available in bookstores everywhere on December 16th, 2013 and is available for pre-order now. Follow Mike on Twitter @mikemyatt