by Jared Lafitte
Leadership is not defined by a title or a position, a record of experience or an accumulation of knowledge. That’s why there are many in positions of power who have great expertise and experience, yet are poor leaders.
Leadership is a practice that requires mastery of several key behaviors that transfer vision and motivate action. Like any behavior, they are meant to be learned, practiced, repeated and sharpened. Leadership should be pursued primarily as a set of practices to be developed and not as a position to be attained. When leaders learn to make this distinction between position and practice, they are crossing what I call the leadership threshold: a conceptual line that divides leadership grounded upon expertise, experience and authority (positional leadership) from leadership grounded upon behaviors and practices (behavioral leadership).
One way to nuance this is to say that experience, expertise and authority serve as crucial supplements to leadership, but generally do not themselves create leadership. Like logs in a fireplace, an accumulation of knowledge and experience provides fuel for the fire of leadership, but it is only behaviors such as conviction, communication and influence that provide the spark to set it ablaze. Crossing the leadership threshold means learning to view expertise, experience and authority as supportive but not primary. Continue reading
by Jennifer Petriglieri and Gianpiero Petriglieri
There were many late nights during Thomas’s time at a private equity firm, but two of them really stand out. On the first, he was at a bar. Earlier in the day, his boss had let him know that he was the top performer in his cohort. Over drinks that evening, he struck up a conversation with a partner at a rival firm. “You’re the guy who closed two deals in six months, aren’t you?” the man asked. It was a moment Thomas had dreamed of and worked for since leaving his small town for college, the first in his family, years before.
On the second, he was at his desk, working on a high-profile IPO. He was the only associate on the deal—the kind of assignment reserved for top talent on the firm’s fast track to partnership. Dawn was breaking, and he had no memory of the past six hours, even though his e-mail and phone logs chronicled a busy all-nighter. A neurologist later ran some tests and warned him of the dangers of sleep deprivation. “I would go to bed at five, wake up at seven with palpitations, and go to work,” Thomas recalled. “I never stopped to think that it was wrong. It’s how it works, I told myself. Everyone does it.”
Thomas slowed down briefly after the doctor’s warning but soon came back full throttle. His talent and drive were intact, though somehow he’d lost his sense of purpose. He created an opportunity for the firm to do a $1.3 billion deal, and then surprised his bosses by suddenly quitting. His performance was strong and his prospects bright as ever, but as he put it when we spoke, he had fallen victim to a vicious cycle: “I did not want to step off the fast track, so I could not slow down.” Thomas felt trapped by his firm’s expectations, but his desire to prove deserving of his bosses’ endorsement kept him from challenging the culture or asking for support. He felt both overwhelmed and underutilized, and concluded that this firm was not the right place to realize his leadership ambitions. Continue reading
By Chris Cancialosi
We’ve all come across this type of person in our careers: the guy who is miserable to work with but who’s also “the top salesman we have.” Or how about “the smartest guy in the room,” who’s also the most unapproachable person you’ve ever met? The talent may well be there but, in today’s increasingly networked workplace, it isn’t a guarantee of success.
Sometimes, very talented people just aren’t a good fit for your organization, but more often, the problem lies in a leaders’ inability to harness or align their employees’ talent to the mission. Either of these situations can cause employees’ talent to atrophy — or, worse, give them a reason to move on to a more engaging position at another company. Your job, as a leader, is to recognize when talent isn’t being used to its fullest potential and correct the situation. Continue reading