Read Ch. 11: Hacking Leadership and write three paragraphs about what you learned and how you think you might use this in your school work and career.
This is not a book report: it should be you explaining what you've learned from this chapter.
Chapter 1: Hacking the Leadership Gap Overview—The Commoditization of Leadership The Leadership Gap Defined Hacking the Control Gap The Awareness Gap—Finding the Blind Spots The Key to Clarity—White Space Hacking the Status Quo Hacking the Preparation Gap
Chapter 2: Hacking the Purpose Gap Following in the Footsteps of Greatness—The Movement Hack Individual Purpose—Hacking the Purpose Continuum Hacking the Pursuit Gap Hacking the Passion Gap Finding Organizational Purpose Begins with Hacking Why Hacking the Profit Gap
Chapter 3: Hacking the Future Gap How to See around Corners—Hacking the Vision Gap To Hack the Future You Must Have Clear Perspective on the Past To Hack the Future You Must Understand How to Navigate the Present Hacking the New Normal Great Leaders Hack the Future by Pulling It Forward Hacking Generational Complexity
Chapter 4: Hacking the Mediocrity Gap
Hacking the Impulsivity Gap Hacking the Impossibility Gap Hacking the Safety Gap Hacking Political Correctness
Chapter 5: Hacking the Culture Gap Hacking the Gap between Strategy and Culture The Right Foundation—Hacking the Culture Construct Hacking the Management Construct Hacking the Scarcity Gap Hacking the Courage Gap Hacking the Arrogance Gap Hacking the Rumor Mill Hacking Diversity Hacking Scalability Hacking the Me Too Gap—Don’t Copy, Create
Chapter 6: Hacking the Talent Gap Hacking the Trust Gap Hacking the Loyalty Gap Hacking the Four Dimensions of Talent Hacking the Hiring Gap Hacking the Definition Gap Hacking the Quality Gap—Supply versus Demand Hacking the Consensus Gap Hacking the One-Size-Doesn’t-Fit-All Gap Hacking the Pressure Gap Hacking the Turnover Gap
Chapter 7: Hacking the Knowledge Gap Hacking Static Thinking Hacking the Decision Gap
Hacking the Competency Gap Hacking the Learning Gap Hacking the Reading Gap Hacking the Communication Gap Hacking the Sensitivity Gap Hacking the Story Hacking Verbosity
Chapter 8: Hacking the Innovation Gap Hacking the Idea Trap—What Innovation Is Not Hacking the Change Gap Hacking the Gap between Incremental and Disruptive Hacking the Next Level Hacking the Competition Hacking the Flexibility Gap
Chapter 9: Hacking the Expectation Gap Hacking the Alignment Gap Hacking the Discipline Gap
Chapter 10: Hacking the Complexity Gap Hacking Complexity Hacking Smart
Chapter 11: Hacking the Failure Gap Hacking Perfection Hacking a Defensive Mind-set Hacking Succession
About the Author
More Praise for Mike Myatt’s Hacking Leadership
“Great leaders are aware of gaps and blind spots in their organizations, teams, and lives. Learn the secrets of great leaders when you read Mike Myatt’s Hacking Leadership!” —Marshall Goldsmith, 2 million-selling author of the New York Times bestsellers,
MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There “Hacking Leadership is a thought-provoking, status-quo-shattering jolt of leadership wisdom that can propel anyone in the direction of their full leadership potential. At a time when scores of people are content settling for What Is, Mike challenges us to ask ourselves, What If? Instead of simply writing another book on leadership, he’s penned a powerfully persuasive narrative that reminds us the only limits to our leadership are those we impose on ourselves. Hacking Leadership is a must read for everyone!” —Brigadier General John E. Michel, Commanding General NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan, and author of (No More) Mediocre Me: How Saying No to
the Status Quo Will Propel You From Ordinary to Extraordinary “Hacking Leadership merits a place on every twenty-first century leader ’s short list of must-read books. Written from the heart and the mind of the renowned leadership expert Mike Myatt, this remarkable manual for action will inspire you to the greatest leadership contribution in your work and life.” —James Strock, author, Serve to Lead, Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership, Reagan
on Leadership, former George H.W. Bush appointee as chief law enforcement officer for the U.S. EPA
“Mike’s insights are logical, entertaining and well outlined. Deep experience with a myriad of leaders enables him to understand the landscape, and his passionate pursuit of innovation lets him crack it open. Hacking Leadership is a fresh take on what it means to be an effective leader and take action.”
—Thomas X. Geisel, CEO, Sun Bancorp, Inc. “Every leader I know, including myself, has leadership gaps, and all of us need a resource and framework for not only identifying the gaps, but also a practical roadmap to help close those gaps. Hacking Leadership is an essential tool for every leader to have in their toolbox for working on their own leadership and
thus improving the team and overall organization. Mike reminds us all not to settle for the status quo, and the important role each of us has to bring about the change we seek. True leaders do something about it, and are willing to mix things up and hack away at their leadership, with the constant pursuit of excellence and thus their true leadership potential.”
—Brad Lomenick, president and key visionary, Catalyst, author, The Catalyst Leader
Cover image: © iStockphoto.com/ROMAOSLO Cover design: Wiley Copyright © 2014 by Mike Myatt. All rights reserved. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Published simultaneously in Canada. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the Web at www.copyright.com. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at www.wiley.com/go/permissions. Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. For general information on our other products and services or for technical support, please contact our Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762-2974, outside the United States at (317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002. Wiley publishes in a variety of print and electronic formats and by print-on-demand. Some material included with standard print versions of this book may not be included in e-books or in print-on-demand. If this book refers to media such as a CD or DVD that is not included in the version you purchased, you may download this material at http://booksupport.wiley.com. For more information about Wiley products, visit www.wiley.com. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
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To my family—they inspire me to be better. To my friends—they challenge me to do better. To my clients—they require me to think better.
To my co-workers—they motivate me to lead better.
Prologue In my office hangs a plaque given to me as a gift. It originally read, It Is What It Is. After a few weeks of reading that phrase several times a day, what I once regarded as a harmless saying began to challenge my thinking and poke at my convictions. It became clear to me this seemingly innocent phrase embodied much of what’s wrong with leadership today. So I did what any good leader would do—I took action. I rummaged through my desk drawer and found my whittling knife. I then
proceeded to carve the following inscription beneath the original statement: Until You Decide To Change It. What once served as a statement of defeat now reads as instructive encouragement; the text no longer lulls people who read it into a state of complacency—it now propels them forward. This simple piece of wall art (prior to my modification) is sadly representative of
many who hold positions of leadership. Burdened by common practice, busyness, and an aversion to change, many leaders today suffer from an acute case of mental numbness. They have fallen prey to the slow seduction of the status quo. As time has passed, they have succumbed to accepting what is instead of pursuing what if. They make safe choices instead of smart choices—they have forgotten what it is to be a leader. There is no shortage of debate surrounding leadership when it comes to
philosophy, style, definitional distinctions, nuances, complex theory, and so and so forth. That said, I believe most reasonable people would agree leadership is nothing if not personal. Leadership can represent a pursuit, discipline, practice, passion, calling, skill, competency, obligation, duty, compulsion, or even an obsession. I’ve known those who have worshiped at the altar of leadership as a religion, and a bit of reflection will reveal more than a few leadership revolutions dotting the historical timeline. My goal for Hacking Leadership is to challenge your thinking and your perceptions with regard to the state of leadership. So, my question is this; what’s next for leadership? In my first book Leadership Matters (2007), I made the following statement: Whether through malice or naiveté, those who trivialize the value of leadership place us all at risk. Poor leadership cripples businesses, ruins economies, destroys families, loses wars, and can bring the demise of nations—Leadership Matters. On an individual basis, a person’s perceived leadership ability, or lack thereof,
will in large part determine their station in life; the schools they’re admitted to, the
jobs they hold, the family life they create, the influence they acquire, and the financial security they achieve. On a collective basis, the quality of leadership has a ripple effect (positive or negative) that can impact generations. Leadership, good or bad, is a contagion. Nothing impacts our world like leadership, and sadly, the practice of leadership is
broken. We live in a society where the pace of change has never been faster and more dramatic, yet our leadership practices have remained painfully stagnant. Using eighteenth, nineteenth, or twentieth-century leadership practices in the twenty-first century simply doesn’t work. It’s time for a fresh perspective—it’s time to begin Hacking Leadership. Core leadership principles have remained largely the same since the dawn of time.
The problem with today’s leaders is they don’t understand how to integrate time- tested principles with evolving leadership practices built for twenty-first century success. The world in which you attempt to implement previously successful strategies and tactics has changed and is ever changing. Organizations, their employees, and the various constituencies they serve are far different today from what they were centuries, decades, or even a few years ago. Here’s the thing—these core leadership principles need not be abandoned, but
outdated and ill conceived practices must be hacked in order to reestablish leadership equilibrium. Hacking Leadership puts the practice of leadership under a transformative lens for the purpose simplifying the complex, while not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It’s important for leaders to embrace the practice of change as it applies to their
own tradecraft. I’ve spent much of my adult life committed to the belief and practice there is always room for innovation, development, and improvement. As much as some don’t want to hear it, this applies to leadership as well. When leaders hold themselves to a higher standard of rigor, discipline, accountability, and transparency everyone wins. I’ve often said the rigidity of a closed mind is the first step in limiting opportunity.
So let me ask you this question: When was the last time you changed something about you? Not someone or something else, but your thinking, your philosophy, your vision, your approach, your attitude, or your development. Most leaders are quite skilled at embracing change—except when the focus of the change initiative happens to be on them. Show me a person that never changes their mind, and I’ll show you a static thinker who has sentenced their mind to a prison of mediocrity and wasted potential. Smart leaders challenge everything—especially conventional thought, best
practices, and dominant logic. When I refer to dominant logic, I’m referencing
existing behaviors/practices, which lock organizations into a pattern of once- productive thinking that no longer is (false truths held as real). Anything in business can be improved, everything can be reimagined, and many things can flat-out be eliminated. The trick is knowing what items to focus on—which items to hack. I want to pause here and set the tone moving forward by giving you my definition
of hacking: hacking [hak-ing]—present participle of hack (verb) to discover an alternate path, clever and skillful tricks, shortcuts and workarounds, breaking the code, deciphering complexity, influencing outcomes, acquiring access, creating innovative customizations to existing/outdated methodologies. Everyone has blind spots, and leadership gaps exist in every organization. The
purpose of this book is to equip leaders at every level with an actionable framework to identify blind spots and close leadership gaps. Hacking Leadership offers a fresh perspective that will make it easy for leaders to create a road map to identify, refine, develop, and achieve their true leadership potential. Hackers are innovative thinkers who acquire and distribute knowledge, tips, and
tricks for solving complex problems—they reinvent strategies, protocols, and practices to create more effective solutions to both existing problems and new challenges. They adopt the mind-set of innovating around best practices in pursuit of next practices. Most of us are all too familiar with the statement “you don’t know what you don’t
know”—there’s never been a more dangerous cop-out for leaders than rationalizing ignorance. The fact of the matter is the best leaders are poignantly aware of what they don’t know, and exhaust all efforts to close those knowledge gaps. In many respects, leadership is nothing more than identifying personal, team,
organizational, and market blind spots and then dealing with them in the most effective fashion. Therefore it’s critically important for leaders to understand that most blind spots exist in the form of gaps—positional gaps, philosophical gaps, strategic gaps, operational gaps, expectation gaps, knowledge gaps, and so on. Gaps exist in every organization: The issue is whether you recognize them, and if so, how you choose to deal with them. Many leaders choose to be ignorant of gaps and pretend they don’t exist. The
problem is that when leaders fall into a gap, it often resembles a crevasse from which there is no escape. Smart leaders proactively seek out gaps in an effort to bridge, close, fill, jump, or navigate around whatever chasm they happen to be facing. The better you become at turning gaps into opportunities (hacking the gaps), the better leader you’ll become. I’ve had the privilege of working with thousands of leaders around the globe. I’m
honored to count among my clients many past and present chairmen and CEOs of some of the world’s leading organizations. What these men and women have consistently taught me is that holding a position of leadership is not the same thing as being a good leader; understanding the basic tenants of leadership is not the same thing as being able to successfully apply them, and that leadership isn’t a destination it’s a journey. While many things can cause leaders to stumble, I’ve found there are 11 specific
leadership gaps, which if not properly identified, understood, and addressed can be fatal. In each of the 11 chapters that follow, I address a particular topic by framing it within the context of a leadership gap. I then go on to offer a series of hacks to help you reframe your thinking so that you can either avoid or altogether eliminate the gap. Finally, I want to share with you my opinions and biases about most business
books, as well as offer a few insights for how you can get the most out of this work. Most business books are full of fluff, and while they may be entertaining, they often serve no real purpose other than to transfer some of your wealth to the author. In the final analysis, a book is only as valuable to leaders as their willingness to discerningly pull the useful concepts off the pages and place them into practice. Books are little more than words on a page unless you choose to make them something more. I would certainly encourage you to challenge the concepts put forth in this book.
More importantly, I would encourage you to challenge your own thinking. Don’t just read the book; study the material and commit to becoming a better leader. The day you stop hacking leadership is the day you should stop leading. Good luck and good hacking. . . .
Hacking the Leadership Gap
The plausibility of impossibility only becomes a probability in the absence of leadership.
Overview—The Commoditization of Leadership Whether you believe leadership has evolved or devolved over time, there is no disputing the practice of leadership has become a contentious topic steeped in ethereal, ambiguous rhetoric. Everyone seems to have an opinion of what constitutes good leadership, but if good leadership is so easy to define and identify, why then does it seem so hard to come by? Society has essentially commoditized leadership resulting in a leadership bubble
of sorts. Because leadership has become the latest version of an entitlement program, too many unqualified leaders have been allowed to enter the ranks. This is not just a business problem—it’s a global leadership problem. The media
is littered with daily examples of those placed in positions of leadership who failed to lead. Leaders are often selected, promoted, and retained on entirely the wrong basis. When leadership is perceived as little more than a title granting access to a platform for personal gain, rather than a privilege resulting in an opportunity to serve, we’ll continue to find ourselves in a crisis of leadership. Those of you familiar with my work know I’m a dyed in the wool leadership guy.
. . . I believe all things begin and end with leadership. In fact, I hold this thesis so dear, I’ve said for years “businesses don’t fail, projects don’t fail, and products don’t fail—leaders fail.” With principled, effective leadership, all things are possible. It’s only when optics
become more important than ethics, when profit becomes more important than purpose, when process becomes more important than people, and when politics becomes more important than doing the right thing, that individuals and organizations lose their direction. Sadly, this is where much of the world finds itself today. The good news is by hacking current leadership frameworks and dynamics we can find our way back to true north. The best leaders understand leadership is the key to unlocking and realizing
limitless potential. I want you to think about leadership like this—the only boarders to leadership are those which are self-imposed. The only limits on your personal, team, or organizational leadership are the ones you submit to. So, you have a choice—you can limit your worldview, or you can expand it—you
can embrace the status quo, or you can shatter it—you can follow best practices, or you can lead innovation around them to identify next practices. Real leaders don’t limit themselves, but more importantly they refuse to limit those they lead. All truly great leaders I’ve had the opportunity to work with have had one thing in
common—they have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. They’ve learned to check their ego, enhance their level of self-awareness, and understand how others perceive them. They are clear thinkers who understand their role and are prepared to act accordingly. This is a foundational chapter—one that sets the tone you can build upon chapter
by chapter as you move forward. Therefore, the balance of this chapter will offer some insights into how you can hack away at the self-rationalizations and justifications keeping you from reaching your leadership potential.
The Leadership Gap Defined Those who become what they do not understand will not like the outcome. It’s imperative you define yourself on both an aspirational and practical level as a leader in order to lead well. Leadership isn’t just a role or a title—it’s a choice. The best leaders choose to be better, they choose to be different—they choose to lead well. The seminal question you must ask yourself as a leader is why should anyone be led by you? Think about it like this—aside from having a job, how are people better off for
being led by you? In order to consistently receive the right answer to the aforementioned question, a leader must first gain an understanding of the following three critical leadership gaps:
1. The Development Gap: This refers to the gap between how you assess your current leadership ability and your true potential as a leader. An accurate understanding of this gap indicates whether you see leadership as a destination or as a continuum. It will determine whether you grow and develop your leadership skills, or whether you will follow the path of least resistance and rest upon your laurels. Keep this in mind—it is impossible for a leader who is not growing and developing to lead a growing and developing enterprise. 2. The Influence Gap: While influence can be generated in all directions, for purposes of this discussion I’m referring to the gap between your self- assessment and the assessment of your leadership ability by your peers. Your understanding of this gap, and willingness to do something about it, will determine your ability to build a cohesive team. Leaders who don’t have the trust and respect of their team won’t be able to generate the influence necessary to perform at the expected levels. 3. The Reality Gap: This refers to the difference between how you view yourself and how those you lead feel about you. A leader who loses the faith and confidence of their workforce won’t be able to attract and retain talent, will have a culture on life support, and subpar performance that ensures only one thing— a limited shelf life. Let’s stop right here and do a quick gut check. I want you to rate yourself as a
leader on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing the worst in leadership and 10 being the best in leadership. I don’t want you to rate your leadership potential, but rather how you are currently performing as a leader. This is a risk-free evaluation, as nobody will see your score but you; do this now and write the number here ____. Here’s what we know to be true based upon the empirical evidence gleaned from
conducting thousands of interviews with senior executives. Regardless of your
position/title, you likely rated yourself between a 6 and an 8. Am I right? The reality is regardless of how transparent you tried to be, 90+ percent of all people in leadership positions won’t rate themselves below a 6. Similarly, 90+ percent of people in leadership positions won’t rate themselves higher than an 8. While this first set of data might not shock you, here’s something else we know
about leadership self-evaluations—leaders consistently overrate themselves. How do we know this? Because we have also surveyed thousands of subordinates and peers, as well as those whom the leaders report to. This next set of data will shock you. When we ask those who work for and with you to rate you on the same scale with
which you conducted your self-assessment, they rate you on average 200 basis points lower than you rate yourself—that’s right, two full percentage points lower. So, if you rated yourself an 8 your co-workers likely rate you a 6. If you rated yourself a 6, then they likely rated you a 4. How does that make you feel? The difference between your self-assessment score and how others rate you is
what I refer to as the leadership gap. Whether the leadership gap is perception or reality doesn’t really matter—it’s nonetheless the gap all leaders must learn to hack. Put yourself in the shoes of those who rated you—how impassioned and
motivated would you be to awaken each morning to go to work for a leader who rates somewhere between a 4 and 6? Where leadership always runs amok is when hubris overshadows humility, and
self-serving motives take the place of service beyond self. Leadership is not about the power and the accolades bestowed upon the leader; it’s about the betterment of those whom the leader serves. At its essence, leadership is about people. At its core, leadership is about improving the status quo, inspiring positive change, and challenging conventional thinking. As long as positional and philosophical arguments are more important than
forward progress, as long as being right is esteemed above being vulnerable and open to new thought, as long as ego is elevated above empathy and compassion, as long as rhetoric holds more value than performance, and as long as we tolerate these things as acceptable behavior we will all suffer at the hands of poor leadership. I think most of us understand at a high level that companies live and die by the
quality of their leadership—but how many of you really internalize this deep down at a personal level? If you’re ready to dig deep and get serious about leadership, the first thing to understand is how control limits your ability to lead.
Hacking the Control Gap The most common mistake I see leaders make is to attempt to lead through control. As counterintuitive as it might seem, in order to gain influence you must surrender control. The reality is you’ll rarely encounter the
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