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The following contains an excerpt from “The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness” by Lolly Daskal with the permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group. Copyright © 2017 by Lolly Daskal.
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
For the first time, Lolly Daskal presents a remarkably powerful system she uses to help top executives harness the virtues of their leadership style. In her new book, “The Leadership Gap,” she illustrates how leaders embody seven archetypes: rebel, explorer, truth teller, hero, inventor, navigator and knight. But within each of these archetypes there is a hidden gap—a competing side, a polarity of character.
The rebel becomes the impostor, the explorer becomes the exploiter, the truth teller becomes the deceiver, the inventor becomes the destroyer, the navigator becomes the fixer and the knight becomes the mercenary.
Regardless of how successful we become as leaders, if we want to continue to have a positive impact on the world and make a difference, we must constantly rethink the instincts that drive us and be mindful of the leadership gaps that drive a wedge between us and our greatness.
How do leaders gain loyalty that lasts?
You must become the knight.
The knight is associated with chivalry and protection, the knight is devoted to serve.
It’s the knight who knows that leadership must have loyalty—the kind that is reliable and dependable and is filled with dedication.
Knights will stand beside you and will serve you, before they serve themselves.
Knights are always asking, “How can I serve you?” while others are thinking, “How can I serve me?”
Many of us are fortunate to find leaders who are loyal, and as leaders, we are lucky to find people who are willing to stand by us through good times and bad.
Loyalty is an essential element in both our professional and personal lives—it’s the bond that ties people together.
The key to the knight’s success: loyalty
Knights are protectors, champions, defenders of (and believers in) their missions and the organizations they work for, the people they work with and their customers. Knight leaders have the following qualities:
- Knights make you feel safe. As a leader, when you have the persona of a knight, your employees feel safe when you protect and serve them. And when they feel safe, they can make bold moves as individuals; moves that can lead your business to new opportunities and successes.
- Knights create unity. Loyalty is about bonding and protecting; it is about acting as a unit—a partnership—providing security for one another, giving emotional support when necessary, and protecting those who work for us, as well as the people for whom we work.
- Knights recognize talent. Loyalty is more than just working together and being bonded to each other. It’s about pooling the talents and strengths of others in ways that make people feel stronger. People who work in organizations are human beings who want to contribute and belong—they want to know they are part of a worthy cause. Most people who take the time to go to work each day don’t do it just for a paycheck. Instead, they go to work each day because they want to devote their minds to something meaningful, and they want their hearts to resonate with something purposeful.
But for every knight who is loyal, there is leadership gap: the mercenary who is self-serving.
Mercenary leaders have the following qualities:
- Lack of dedication. When you have leaders who are not invested in those they lead (i.e. they don’t support or coach their colleagues, or guide and mentor their team), this shows disinterest. A leader who is not committed to the growth and development of others is not fully invested in his people’s success. A loyal leader knows the importance of investing in the development of his people, because leadership is all about being committed to your people. The way we treat others will determine our own success or failure.
- Inadequate loyalty. When leaders don’t protect, safeguard, or defend their people, the people do not feel secure. Security is important—if there is no safety there is no loyalty. Just saying to someone, “you should feel secure,” “your job is safe,” or “you can rely on me,” doesn’t make someone dedicated and loyal to you or to your organization. The best leaders demonstrate loyalty first by letting employees know they have their back and will protect them. That is what loyal leaders do.
- Absence of accountability. When leaders are not accountable for their mistakes and failures, they tend to blame others—including those who work for them. This breeds disloyalty among employees. The best leaders know that loyalty is earned through everyday actions and everyday decisions because everything a leader says and does has consequences.
Loyalty isn’t gray; it’s black and white. Either you are completely loyal or you are not loyal at all.
Bridging the gap between being a knight who is loyal and the mercenary who is self-serving requires an understanding that leaders come from a place of dedication, devotion and duty. Great leaders do not boast, do not seek titles and do not need to keep a personal ledger of who has done right and who has done wrong.
Being a mercenary might feel like an easier path to leadership, but at their core, great leaders know that the key to their success is serving others first—not themselves. A leadership gap is created when someone thinks that he should serve himself first and everyone else after. For leaders who have this bias, making the change isn’t easy—it requires first rethinking what is truly best for the organization, and ultimately for themselves. Understand that leading requires others to follow, that we don’t lead in a vacuum.
To succeed as leaders, we have to embody the knight—we have to be loyal and protect our people and serve them with love.
As a leader, the choice is always ours.
Do you want to lead from your gaps or do you want to lead from your greatness?
To find out more about “The Leadership Gap: What What Gets Between You and Your Greatness,” visit www.theleadershipgapbook.com.
“The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness” is available today via fine booksellers and is available for purchase at StartupNation.com.
Reviews of “The Leadership Gap”
“Our weaknesses live in the shadows of our strengths, and this book does more than help us spot them―it shows us how to overcome them. Lolly Daskal takes us into the trenches of her executive coaching practice, carefully unpacking the self awareness gaps that hold leaders back and lightning the path to expanding our comfort zones.”
-Adam Grant NY Times best-selling author “Give and Take” and “Originals.”
“The brilliance in the book is seen in the Leadership Gaps.”
-Marshall Goldsmith NY Times best-selling author “What Got You Here Won’t Get you There.”
“I’ve seen talented leaders unwittingly make the biggest mistakes of their careers simply because they don’t understand the complexities and pitfalls of their own strengths. “The Leadership Gap” offers terrific insight and valuable wisdom for high achievers who want to understand the tendencies that stand between them and meaningful success.
-Sydney Finkelstein, author of “Superbosses” and “Why Smart Executives Fail”
“”The Leadership Gap is fascinating, provocative, entertaining, and useful―a significant new contribution to how we think and act as leaders, and I highly recommend it.”
-Jim Kouzes, co-author of the best-selling “The Leadership Challenge”