Below follows a brief extract from Herminia Ibarra’s insightful, provocative, and practical new book ‘Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader.’
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“I’m like the fire patrol”, says Jacob, a thirty five-year-old production manager for a midsized European food manufacturer. “I run from one corner to the other to fix things, just to keep producing.”
To step up to a bigger leadership role in his organization, Jacob knows he needs to get out from under all the operational details that are keeping him from thinking about important strategic issues his unit faces. He should be focused on issues such as how best to continue to expand the business, how to increase cross-enterprise collaboration, and how to anticipate the fast-changing market. His solution? He tries to set aside two hours of uninterrupted thinking time every day. As you might expect, this tactic isn’t working.
Perhaps you, like Jacob, are feeling the frustration of having too much on your plate and not enough time to reflect on how your business is changing and how to become a better leader. It’s all too easy to fall hostage to the urgent over the important. But you face an even bigger challenge in stepping up to play a leadership role: you can only learn what you need to know about your job and about yourself by doing it—not by just thinking about it.”
“…My research focuses instead on the development of a leader’s identity—how people come to see and define themselves as leaders. I have found that people become leaders by doing leadership work. Doing leadership work sparks two important, interrelated processes, one external and one internal. The external process is about developing a reputation for leadership potential or competency; it can dramatically change how we see ourselves. The internal process concerns the evolution of our own internal motivations and self definition; it doesn’t happen in a vacuum but rather in our relationships with others.
Chapter 1 Summary:
a. To step up to leadership, you have to learn to think like a leader.
b. The way you think is a product of your past experience.
c. The only way to change how you think, therefore, is to do different things.
d. Doing things—rather than simply thinking about them—will increase your outsight on what leadership is all about.
e. Outsight comes from a “tripod” of sources.
f. Sustainable change in your leadership capacity requires shifts on all three legs of the tripod.
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