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What I Think Leadership Actually Looks Like

I am a sucker for those numbered offering posts: “5 Tips to Help You Melt Ice Quicker,” ” 3 People That You Should Never Let Mow Your Lawn,” and “Four Uses For A Paperclip (Other Than Clipping Paper!)” I fall for them. Hard. After skimming through one of them, it feels like a doctor taking the stethoscope away from my heart – or in this case, head – and saying, “Yes, son, your commonsense is alive and well. Stop visiting. Please.”

Leadership bloggers are some of the most shameless peddlers of this stuff. Nowhere close to ‘productivity’ bloggers, sure, but that’s another conversation. When it comes to the topic of ‘Leadership,’ opinions are formed in the clouds, 9 million feet above soil. Maybe they are concrete up there, but by the team they reach us, the people who may want something functional or at least theoretical that can be turned into praxis, something happens. I think, at about 1 million feet, their studies, ideas, well-supported arguments get distracted. They see some fuzzy thing dilating. It has buttons.

I think it’s a fog machine. A really good fog machine, like the kind you would find in a at a Halloween party in the basement of most suburbs. That’s why they furnish them you know – for parties and fog machines.

So these leadership deliberations (glass half-full, ok?) arrive as this mist and it’s then I wonder, “who gives a damn about leadership from the 9 million foot view?!” But, that’s where the fog machine theory comes into play because, at such a great height, I would like to think I would be looking back at the earth’s atmosphere like a child at snow, unable to repeat my name if you asked me for it. Whatever I focus on, other than that, had better be damn good. So, for these guys to be up there chiseling vague mental mantras to rehearse before a meeting? C’mon, get out. That’s the work of the fog machine.

Jim Collins Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve is why I still touch the hot oven. While it’s not a blog, it’s a read that should not be chopped-up or condensed for 10-second consumption. It absolutely my favorite read on leadership – what it is, and what it may not be.

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