"Thank you for the wonderful presentation today. I personally found so many valuable things to take away with me, and I saw a lot of note taking. Your own presentation skills are a testament to your work. You were engaging, charming and left an impression on the audience. I hope that we can coordinate future opportunities to learn from you."

Jennifer Rodriguez, Associate
Squire Patton Boggs, LLP

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Leadership Book Review: "Unusually Excellent"

(posted: December 30th, 2011)

Questions: As growing leaders in the business world, we might ask ourselves these questions.

  • Why are some people and organizations more innovative, influential, and profitable than others?
  • Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees?
  • Why do some have repeat success?

Question Behind the Questions:

What can we do to enhance this in our organizations?

To continue answering the questions above, we go to another book in our series called the Leadership Book Review.

Leadership Book Review

Unusually Excellent: The necessary nine skills required for the practice of great leadership

by John Hamm

This book offers both seasoned and aspiring leaders a framework for understanding and a guide for applying the fundamentals of leadership at every stage of their careers.

"To lead well, as the book makes deeply and powerfully clear is first and foremost to know yourself, and second to put yourself in service to whatever you value most deeply. If you adopt that posture, whatever follows can be incorporated into making yourself a better leader. And it is the purpose of this book to help you do so."

Leadership is a lifelong journey of mastery with no end zone or finish line. None of the principles in Unusually Excellent are new, but they are regularly forgotten. To be a great leader, you must know what these essentials are, but you must also understand how they relate to one another and how to apply them to the diverse leadership situations in which you find yourselves.

It is in the learning and knowing that you are more skilled and effective this year than you were last year that keeps it motivating and exciting.

As a leader of others; can you say this as 2011 comes to a close?

Maybe a few of the nine skills would be a good reminder.

3 Winning Combinations

Geoffrey Moore breaks these nine essentials into three core winning combinations and these three into three essential skills:

1. Credibility

  • A matter of character.

2. Competence

  • A matter of skills.

3. Consequence

  • A matter of values.


A Matter of Character

Being authentic, trustworth, and compelling.

Unusually excellent leaders find the courage within to be authentic, and that takes knowing and accepting themselves, and accepting the disappointments of their past and actively seeking feedback from their teams.

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

Mark Twain

Be honest, be vulnerable, and be fair.

"In the beginning, people think vulnerability will make you weak, but it does the opposite. It shows you're strong enough to care."

Victoria Pratt

Supporting a culture of truth could be the most frustrating and difficult thing you will do as a leader. It takes real courage to come clean with your mistakes and failures; hence why authenticity, the courage to be yourself, was the first step.

The qualities we want in a leader are essentially the same ones we want in a friend, coworker or partner, except for one. In leaders we also need to know their vision if we are to enroll in their cause.

Above all else the thing that defines leaders is that they have not just friends or admirers, they have followers. Are your followers compelled by a cause? Have you as a leader painted a picture of what winning will look like and how your followers can contribute their talents in the pursuit of that vision and share in the success?

The 6 Es of great leaders:

  • Engage Attention
  • Enroll People
  • Energize
  • Empower
  • Enthusiasm
  • Empathy


A Matter of Skills

People, strategy, and execution.

If the preparation for leadership is the development of character, its execution is a matter of skills. The skills to lead people to create and execute strategy, and the skills to achieve those strategic goals.

His agenda regarding people:

  • Hire the best.
  • Focus on "fit."
  • Make it a team.
  • Lead that team to victory.

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men and women to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it."

Theodore Roosevelt

Strategy establishes priorities.

The things you will do and the things you will not do. It also allocates and commits resources. A plan without committed resources is merely good intention.


A Matter of Values

Impact, decision making, and communication.

The reality of both culture and reputation will all come down to your behavior.

Who you are and what you do will dwarf what you say, what you hope, or what you intend. It is all about what action you take, in the heart of battle, the pressure of producing the promised results, and the complexity of building teams and strategies.

Your words may be important, but if, and only if, they match your actions.

Ideally before and after everything else, the leader is the chief communicator of the organization.

A leaders three basic tasks:

  • Align the interests, energy and commitment of the team.
  • Reduce fear, confusion, and anxiety.
  • Instill confidence and trust, while rallying support and contribution.

He challenges you to sit down at the beginning of the week and ask yourself whether there are any conversations that need to happen in those next five days that you should initiate or request that would achieve one or more of these objectives. Then, make them happen.

"A real team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, a set of performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable."

Jon Katzenbach, The Wisdom of Teams

The following questions are always looking for an answer:

  • What are we doing?
  • Why?
  • How will we win?
  • What do you expect of me?
  • How am I doing?
Challenge Yourself
  • Which of these nine fundamental skills are you a true leader to be admired?
  • Which of the nine would you like to focus a bit of your time and energy on for the first quarter of 2012?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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