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If it was easy, everyone would do it!

Tom & SethThat was a favorite saying of my college buddy, Bob Weidle as we faced Intermediate Accounting while attending Loyola College(now University) at night.

That is also what Seth Godin says about LEADERSHIP  in his post Thanks for Leading.

Last week I had a chance to speak in a very small group with business guru, Tom Peters and he said the same thing in a slightly different way, HARD is SOFT and SOFT is HARD.

They are both right, Leadership is not for the faint of heart. So that is how I started out my session at the IGAF Worldwide Women's Leadership Conference today in DC. Leadership in tough times requires new thinking and new skills.

Here are some highlights and resources from my session:

But what about women leaders? Are there differences?

I turned to my social network and got some great insights worth sharing. First, from Tom Peters who tweeted to me:

“To them: Be Yourself. Women's strengths being recognized like never before. Women's ability to engage a huge differentiator.”

Then Gretchen Pisano, co-author of our I2A: Insights to Action – strategic thinking system, sent me a study from McKinsey featured in Forbes on-line, titled, Centered-leadership: How Talented Women Thrive. It featured the five dimensions of leadership that women should focus on:

“From the interviews and other research, we have distilled a leadership model comprising five broad and interrelated dimensions:

  1. Meaning, or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose.
  2. Managing energy, or knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes and what you can do to manage it.
  3. Positive framing, or adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons and gain the resilience to move ahead even when bad things happen.
  4. Connecting, or identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships and increasing your sense of belonging.”
  5. Engaging, or finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring and collaborating with others.”

Then I shared our tool, I2A:Insights to Action – a strategic thinking system as a tool to help them develop powerful engagement tools to engage and inspire people to action. Here is our approach:

The Five Qualities of Extraordinary Leaders

  1. Sight – Ability to see emerging patterns and shift perspective when necessary
  2. Insight – Ability to learn faster than the rate of change in your industry
  3. Create – Ability to think strategically and critically to gain insights that create new opportunities
  4. Communicate – Ability to collaborate inside and outside your organization and to build and sustain social networks of people engaged in the work
  5. Inspire – Ability to mobilize support and engage others to join you in ACTION

The point is that this “system” allows you to engage people in conversations about the future which are more and more critical in times of rapid change. It is a disciplined way of asking the four most important words for any organization, What do you think? (again, thanks to our conversation with Tom Peters).

For more information see my presentation here on slideshare.

Here is a copy of our workbook from the session with an extensive resource section and reading list  Download IGAF – BIL – I2A Insights to Action – workbook

I want to close with a quote from Seth Godin from his book, Tribes,

“In other words, if everyone could do it, they would, and it wouldn’t be worth much.

It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.
It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail.
It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo.
It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle.

When you identify the discomfort, you’ve found the place where a leader is needed.

If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader.”

If it was easy everyone would do it, but everyone doesn't do it. Thanks for being a leader – we need more of you!

Talk back – what is the most rewarding part of your leadership role?

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