Magazine article Work & Family Life

10 New and Unusual Thoughts about Leadership

Magazine article Work & Family Life

10 New and Unusual Thoughts about Leadership

Article excerpt

Leadership-what it takes and how to make it happen-is an important issue about which countless books have been written. We talk about it often on this page too, emphasizing the opportunities we all have to be leaders at work, at home and in our communities.

We found a fresh take on the subject from Fast Company magazine writer Harriet Rubin, who took part in a Radcliffe Institute-sponsored seminar that was, literally, a weekend trip to a mountaintop (in Santa Fe, New Mexico) to think great thoughts about leadership. The diverse group of seminar participants discovered they had three things in common:

* A FEELING THAT SOMETHING WAS MISSING in their work lives-some spark, some connection.

* A WORRY THAT THEY HAD ALE COMPROMISED their personal goals somehow-even those in the group who had realized their work-life dreams.

* A DESIRE TO BELIEVE THAT, BY SHIFTING THEIR THINKING, they could get closer to learning the secret of truly great work.

"It wasn't that we were burned out," Rubin writes. "Rather, we wanted to know how to focus our distracted energies in order to accomplish something that would last. As one participant put it, we felt our challenge was 'to move from success to significant'."

Getting started, the group members saw wisdom as a combination of experience and intelligence. "By the time we headed back down the mountain, we had all added one thing to that formula," says Rubin, "something that allows a leader to build on both the experience and intelligence: reflection."

Here are the "Ten Commandments" that Harriet Rubin's group brought down from the mountaintop.

1 Become a self-aware learner. Pay more attention to how you absorb information. What is it that makes you start thinking about something? be aware of when and how you change positions and how you feel about people whose opinions differ from yours. In terms of leadership, look for (and become) someone who "lives the virtues of listening, learning, making mistakes and reflecting on experience."

2 Start your own "brain trust." The world's great thinkers are available to all of us-from Socrates to Henry Thoreau to Nelson Mandela. Through reading, we can bring the best minds, past and present, into the room with us and try to raise our own efforts to their level. …

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