Leadership from the Inside Out: Eight Pathways to Mastery

What does mastery of leadership mean to you? To many people it is mastery of something: mastery of the skill to be a dynamic influencer; mastery of strategic planning and visioning; mastery of consistent achievements and results.  Instead of being an ongoing, internal growth process, mastery is usually seen as mastery of something outside of ourselves. When you think about it, it’s no wonder our ideas about mastery and leadership tend to be externalized. Our training, development, and educational systems focus on learning about things, not the nature of things. We learn what to think, now how to think.  We learn what to do, now how to be.  We learn what to achieve, not how to achieve. We focus on what and rarely ask why. We fill up the container of knowledge but rarely consider comprehending it or applying it more effectively.

In organizations, this external pattern continues.  As leaders we receive recognition for our external mastery. Revenue, profit, new product breakthroughs, cost savings, and market share are only some of the measures of our external competencies.  Few would question the value of achieving and measuring external results.  This isn’t the real issue.  The core questions are:  Where do the external results come from?  Is focusing on external achievement the sole source of greater accomplishment?  Could it be that our single-minded focus on external results is causing us to miss the underlying dynamics supporting sustainable peak performance?

An Inside Out Leadership Definition
Our definitions of leadership also tend to be externalized.  Most descriptions of leadership focus on the outer manifestations (i.e., performance, achievement, power, drive, etc.) instead of getting to the foundational principles of leadership itself.  Leadership from the inside out takes a different view. We cannot split off the person from the leader. The leader and the person are one. We lead by virtue of who we are.

We decided to do a deep, comprehensive examination of the most effective leaders we had assessed, advised, and developed over last thirty years to discern leadership patterns.  Our research premise was, “What is foundational to the most effective, results-producing leaders?  What supports their various competencies or styles on the surface?”  Three essential patterns became clear …

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Seven Guiding Principles For True Leadership Success

By Kevin Cashman, originally posted on his Forbes.com blog, Pause Point, on September 5, 2017. 


Taking a true measure of our leadership success is no easy task. Do we measure net profit? Gross revenue? Customer satisfaction and loyalty? EBITDA? Quarterly results? Stock price? Social responsibility? While all these yardsticks are crucial, do they really get to the essence of what sustains leadership for the long run?

Recently, a 70-year-old CEO reflected with me, “In the end, the real measure of success will unlikely be our accomplishments or achievements. Rather, our most authentic measure will likely be the lasting impact we had on the lives of people.” I doubt many of us will lament in our final hour, “If only I had pushed for one more percentage point of profit in my last quarter!” Likely we will reflect on our key relationships, on the people we have impacted, loved, grown and been influenced by.

In the 75+ year Grant and Glueck study at Harvard, the longest continuous research study with four research leaders to date, there has been one consistent finding across the decades, across generations and across geographies:  that the true measure of success and satisfaction rests on one thing, relationships.

In a leadership context, relationships play out in a multitude of ways in teams, collegial connections, culture and customers. In many ways, all leadership is in relationship, a way to add enduring value with and for people. However, I posit that there is one fundamental measure to our leadership effectiveness:  how many leaders have you produced?

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Drive and Connection

What Are The Deepest Roots of Your Leadership?

By Kevin Cashman; Originally posted on Pause Point, Kevin’s Forbes.com blog on May 15, 2017. 

Many of our most fundamental leadership models originate deep in our life story. Reflecting on these influences can foster genuine and fundamental self-awareness.

Post-Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a story on the profound and practical patterns my mother instilled at “the red thing” in our home.

In the basement of our family home was something we called “the red thing.” The red thing was a brightly painted, high wooden bench that happened to be located directly across from where my mother would stand to do the ironing. All of us kids wanted time on the red thing, but it wasn’t really about the red thing at all.

What we sought was the sage advice and encouragement of our mother. Because she only allowed one of us at a time on the red thing, time there with her was highly coveted. Our mom was an amazing listener, coach, teacher and facilitator. Although we always wanted her to give us answers, which she did occasionally, more often she taught us how to reflect and build our own awareness by looking at different sides of an issue, situation, person or group. She helped us to think, to process, and to land on our own clarity. She appreciated each of our unique talents and accomplishments, but also challenged us to explore, excel or exceed. She was particularly challenging when we were certain that we knew something or when we were judgmental about people.

I was not aware at the time what she was doing. I was only aware of the benefits of it. I did not realize that she was modeling a process, a way to reflect on yourself and the challenges faced. She had this incredible natural ability to use questions to get us to look at something from different perspectives, to help us to better understand who we were, why we were going in a particular direction, and how to consider alternatives. She balanced encouragement with a push for excellence. She was intolerant of a lack of openness. She was a master coach. She ignited a passion in me to help people grow.

Heartfelt thanks to you, Mim Cashman, your “maternal leadership” was a living example of how to integrate both the maternal and paternal into one way of being and leading. What are the deepest roots of your leadership?

The No. 1 thing CEOs want from executive coaching? Self-awareness

Executive coaching once carried a stigma, much like psychotherapy, in part because it was mainly employed to solve a problem or to “fix” difficult personalities.

Now, it’s become so common for top executives to be coached that it’s viewed as a perk, a sign of having arrived at the top.

Executive coaching has grown into an industry with an estimated $1.5 billion in annual revenue and more than 20,000 dues-paying members of the International Coach Federation. Surveys indicate that most of the biggest companies now use coaches. What their executives most often talk about in these sessions isn’t their business strategy, but themselves.

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