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Head, Heart and Soul: Lessons from The Leadership Challenge Forum

Posted Aug 22 2011 11:01am

It's been nearly 30 days since The Leadership Challenge Forum held in Chicago. By this point, we hope attendees have applied what they learned in addition to strengthening connections with others in their communities. 

It's difficult to describe the power of an experience such as The Leadership Challenge Forum. Year after year, its impact increases; not only for participants, but also for us. The Leadership Challenge and Student Leadership Challenge families continue to expand and we invite you to join us.

Remarkable lessons were shared from participants, keynote speakers and session leaders. Slides from keynotes and presenters are posted here . This year's Forum was designed to be learner-centered. Attendees contributed to our shared learning as much as the speakers. It's amazing to witness and be part of the outcomes when leaders come together to share, learn, and grow.

Our research over the past year regarding the Characteristics of Admired Leaders indicate what we've known from previous years: the number one characteristic people seek in leaders they would willingly follow is Honesty, which leads to our first law of leadership: If you don't believe the messenger, you won't believe the message. 

Do What You Say You Will Do (DWYSYWD) has evolved to DWWSWWD - Do What We Say We Will Do. Leadership is not about you - it's about us. Making leadership about us is dependent upon our credibility. Are we worthy of being followed?

To sustain credibility, a leader must follow six fundamentals: 

  • Discover Yourself
  • Appreciate Constituents
  • Affirm Shared Values
  • Develop Capacity
  • Serve a Purpose
  • Sustain Hope

Steve Dellaporta from the United States Department of Defense, Manpower Data Center, shared with us: "Without knowing who you are, you cannot lead with integrity." Do you know WHO you are? Can you articulate your personal values?

Who contributes to the organization's success? Appreciation is not just about successes, but also failures that become learning events. When you and your team can extract lessons learned from a failure, then it can lead to your next success. 

If you don't know your own values, how can your team develop shared values? Our research shows that shared values make a difference. When constituents align their values with shared values, they are more personally successful, more committed to organization and stakeholders, more willing to work harder and longer, and more clear about the alignment among their values and the organization's values. 

HOPE. One of our nation's greatest needs. What gives you hope? Our upcoming generations of leaders give us hope, which is why we've developed The Student Leadership Challenge. Today's students are tomorrow's leaders, and if we don't invest in them today, we won't have prepared them to lead us into the future. Many colleges and universities realize the importance of building the leadership needs of the next generation. 

Each of these fundamentals are explored in greater depth in our newly released second edition of  Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It

We leave you with the same powerful message we shared at the conclusion of the Forum:

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.

Be careful of your words, for your words become your deeds.

Be careful of your deeds, for your deeds become your habits.

Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.

Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.

Be careful of your leadership,  for your leadership becomes your legacy. 


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