I am a leader. I am a leader finding my way from the murky depths of leading an English department to the even murkier depths of leading on TL across the academy I work out.
It’s hard. It’s difficult and, for me, it is often plagued with uncertainty. I have days when I feel I am cracking it and days when I wonder what the hell I am doing.
For this reason, I love a good leadership book to root me back into what it means to be a leader.
Legacy by James Kerr is a superb read on leadership. Sharing 15 key lessons for leadership, the book offers strategy to ensure your team becomes a high-performing team.
Below are my key take-aways. I am hoping to be able to blog on how I have used this book in future to shape my leadership development.
Chapter 1 – Character
What does the book say?
- True success starts with humility – knowing oneself and recognising that character triumphs over talent because whilst winning takes talent, to repeat it takes character.
- The importance of getting the basics right and ensuring that you are creating the highest operating standards. The culture needs to be right.
- The importance of team and collective character. And all members of the team constantly asking how can we do this better and have a vested input into this ongoing discussion.
- The importance of vision. Action without vision is a nightmare. Vision without action is a dream. Vision into every day action. Principle into practice.
Chapter 2 – Adapt
- A winning environment is one of personal and professional development.
- Clear strategy for change – an environment that would stimulate the players and make them want to take part in it.
- Recognise there will be learning dips in performance.
- Decision cycle = observe, orient, decide act and then repeat.
- Identify 10 things you need to achieve in 100 days. Three actions for each. Review every Friday.
Chapter 3 – Purpose
- People want to be part of something worth fighting for, something they can be proud of.
- The way we feel about something is more important than what we think about it.
- Emotional reward is more important than material gain.
- Personal meaning is how we connect.
Chapter 4 – Responsibility
- A team of leaders is ahead of the game
- Flexible leadership groups – distributed leadership.
- Ownership – building trust and a common understanding.
- The learning environment should be dedicated to improving the individual.
Chapter 5 – Learn
- Success is modest improvement consistently done. A long-term commitment to improving excellence
- Constant improvement – always asking how we can do things better.
- Without the right structure in place, strategy won’t be successful. Structure follows strategy
- Each team member should identify their 7/8 pillars of improvement and ensure everything they do feeds into a daily map of self-improvement.
- Success is how a team work together under pressure, how they understand importance of team work and how they are willing to do 100 things 1% better.
- The environment needs to be dedicated to learning. How do leaders create opportunities for personal growth and professional development?
- Excellence is a process of evolution.
Chapter 6 – Whanau
- Fly in formation. Be of one mind. On a good team, there are no superstars.
- Turn standards into action with peer to peer enforcement. High standards must come from within.
- Leadership works best when it comes from the team.
- The greater connections between a team, the stronger the team.
- Find a structure that would empower everyone on the team and allow the players to grow as individuals.
Chapter 7 – Expectations
- Those who prepare properly normally win.
- Successful leaders have high internal benchmarks. They set their expectations high and exceed them.
- It’s the repetition of affirmation that leads to belief. Self-fulfilling prophecies.
- Words shape our story, our story becomes a framework for our behaviours, our behaviours determine the way we lead our life and the way we run our organisations.
Chapter 8 – Preparation
- The way the sapling is shaped determines how the tree grows.
- Practise with intensity to develop the mindset to win.
- If you’re not growing anywhere, you are not going anywhere.
- Effective training is intense, regular and repetitious. For world class results, it should be central to culture.
- Avoid red head. Aim for blue head: alternatives, consequences and task behaviours.
- Develop clarity with a more accurate automatic execution and situational awareness.
Chapter 9 – Pressure
- Pressure is expectation, scrutiny and consequence.
- Bad decisions are made as a result of inability to handle pressure at the pivotal moment.
- Where we direct our mind is where thoughts will take us. Thoughts create an emotion and emotion defines behaviour. Behaviour defines our performance.
- Avoid bad experience pictures from the past or fear of future consequences.
- Brain is three parts – instinct, thinking and emotion. Disconnect emotion to remain focused on outcome. When this happens find an external force and get yourself back into the present.
- Mantra – three word act and takes one from chaos through clarity into action.
- Meet pressure with pressure. By controlling our attention, we control our performance and by controlling our performance, we control the game.
Chapter 10 – Authenticity
- Follow your own path. Be resilient, stand tall, keep faith and stand strong within yourself. Be genuine, real and true to who you are. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
- Leaders who fail suffer from a lack of strong identity, belief in themselves and respect for themselves.
- When leaders disrespect with others, it starts with themselves.
- Bad faith occurs when peer pressures and social forces combine to have us disown our own values.
- Leaders need to role model behaviours around admission of mistakes and weaknesses and fear.
- Essential for safe conflict and safe confrontation.
- Integrity – thoughts, deeds and words are as one.
- Authenticity is alignment of head, mouth, heart and feet thinking, saying and doing the same thing consistently. Honesty – integrity – authenticity – resilience – performance.
- Every morning write a list of things that need to be done that day. Do them.
- With an authentic voice, we have authority
Chapter 11 – Sacrifice
- CHAMPIONS DO EXTRA
- It’s the work we do behind close doors that makes the difference
- These are the things I need to work on. These are my weaknesses.
- Never surrender. Spill blood for the team. Sacrifice.
Chapter 12 – Language
- Let your ears listen
- No one is bigger than the team
- Leave the jersey in a better place
- Live for the jersey. Die for the jersey.
- It’s not enough to be good. It’s about being great.
- In the belly – not the back.
- It’s an honour, not a job.
- Leaders are storytellers.
- If you are going to die for something, you need to know what you are dying for.
- Companies that maintain their core values are those that stand alone, stand apart and stand for something.
- First we shape our values then our values shape us.
Chapter 13 – Ritual
- Ritualised to actualise.
- Identity and purpose need to be continually renewed and reinterpreted to give them meaning.
- Inspiring leaders use rituals to lead their team to its core narrative and uses them to reflect, remind, reinforce and reignite collective identity and purpose.
Chapter 14 – Whakapapa
- Plant trees you’ll never see. Be a good ancestor.
- What is important is that when the sun is on us, we inherit our tribes, values, stories, mythology and standards. Live to that standard and then pass it on to the next person in the team.
- True leaders are stewards of the future.
- Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are whilst your reputation is merely what others think you are.
Chapter 15 – Legacy
- Write your legacy. This is your time.