Why leadership is like a fascinating adventure

Back in pre-Covid times, I took my four-year-old granddaughter for a walk to the local coffee shop. What should have been a twenty-minute task turned into a fascinating two-hour adventure. She was wide-eyed with wonder as she peered in between the pickets of a fence to study the cobwebs in the bushes. She was excited about arranging sticks and rocks into patterns. Driveways of people’s houses beckoned her to explore their secrets. I had never noticed most of the things she saw, even though I had walked the same route hundreds of times.

The trip with my granddaughter would get a poor productivity rating. We took a long time to accomplish our mission. But the pleasure of seeing the world through her eyes was more rewarding than just picking up the coffee.

I am reminded of the sense of adventure when interviewing leaders for the book that Dean Phelan and I are writing, The Gentle Art of Leadership. All our interviewees focus on results. But how they get there is a fascinating adventure. They downplay their own importance and emphasise it is the people around them who produce big outcomes. They emphasise they could not accomplish much on their own. But they have a common fascination with getting the best out of the people around them.

In the book, The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, the authors Steven Slowman and Philip Fernbach demonstrate that we all overestimate what we know. For example most people cannot explain how a zipper works even though we think we can. They argue that the key to success lies in the people and things around us. It reinforces the point that smart people collaborate with others.

Practitioners of the gentle art of leadership achieve better results by connecting with others and finding their greatness.

It is about more than outcomes; it is a fascinating adventure.

🙋 Are you focused on the fascinating adventure of getting the best from others? 🙋‍♀️

Best regards, Brian