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Leadership is massively seductive: Got to start with learning how to lead yourself

Before you effectively lead others, you’ve got to effectively lead yourself. Why? Because leadership is massively seductive.

By Dan Rockwell


Leaders are constantly told how special and better they are.

Think of the privileges that leaders are afforded. Leaders get bigger office spaces (with more windows), better parking spaces, more agenda airtime, more deference, and fatter salaries. (Ask Carlos Ghosn)

They also get less flak when they show up late for meetings, interrupt people, or skirt policies or processes that everyone else has to follow.

Sometimes it seems as if leaders were meant to levitate above the rest of us mere mortals.

It’s no surprise that some leaders are seduced into thinking they are “better” than everyone else, that they deserve more of the spoils.

Hubris is what you get when a leader is spoiled.

3 ways to stay grounded as a leader:

  1. Have a Check: Deputize someone with permission to call you on your own BS!
  2. Walk the Deckplates: In the U.S. Navy, ship commanders make it a point of getting out of the bridge “walking the deckplates” – that’s where the real work gets done!
  3. Show Your Warts: Followers want leaders who are seasoned and scarred. Young professionals, in particular, need to know about the mistakes you’ve made and the “do overs” you wish you could have.

John Ryan, CEO and President of the Center for Creative Leadership, and former U.S. Navy Vice Admiral, sums up the importance of self-leadership this way,

“In all fields, you’re graded as a leader according to two dimensions:

  • You leading and managing YOU.
  • You leading and managing OTHERS.

The first cannot be outsourced and is the hardest and most important to do as we advance in our careers.

Without self-regulation, genuine humility, and learning agility, leaders will slip into hubris and excellence cannot be sustained.”

How might leaders stay grounded?

Bill Treasurer is the author of five books, including his most recent which he coauthored with Captain John Havlik, retired Navy SEAL, The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance. Learn more at




April 2020

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