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How Transformational Leaders Can Understand What Matters Most and Measure It


You need to know your “squats”…

Answer this question: If you were able to focus the attention and efforts of everyone on your team on one set of goals that would drive significant results for your company, what would you use as the one metric to measure progress? How would you know you were on the right track? What would be the rallying cry for your team?

Transformational leaders need a focused metric for progress: What are the “squats” for your organization?

A colleague who runs a large financial services company figured it out. He visited with the head athletic trainer of the Houston Texans and posed that same question, “What is the acid test for fitness?” The answer came back as a single word, “Squats.” The athletic trainer said, “If a player can squat twice his body weight, I know that the other aspects of training (cardio fitness, drills, discipline) are all in line.”

Seasoned leaders like that come to understand which measures reveal the most powerful indications of progress and health.

I believe that the same approach works for business. Transformational leaders—the ones who can make the biggest impact on forward momentum—know what to look for and know how to focus their colleagues on what matters most. They know the secret of the “squat” for their business—that single metric that proves they’re (more…)

Five Keys to Legendary Leadership


Leadership — genuine, influential, effective leadership — is a subtle thing. It’s not something that readily reduces to a cookie-cutter recipe or paint-by-numbers formula. We all know that. That’s why there have been a thousand good books on leadership, and will be a thousand more. But for all we describe it and study it, it still seems elusive — which is why it so often surprises us when a truly great leader appears in our midst.

Why so elusive? In part, because great leadership is shot through with contradiction.

A great leader is selfless — and has a healthy ego. A great leader is by definition unitary, singular, unique — and somehow inspires thousands to emulate him or her. Great leaders have their heads in the clouds and their toes firmly in the dirt.

Here are five descriptions of what great leaders do, what we call “Five Keys to Legendary Leadership.” The first four are all essential — and are completely contradicted by the fifth. Yet somehow, the first four don’t seem to work without the fifth.

They are the four fingers and thumb of leadership.

Finger #1: Hold the Vision
Building a business takes skill, work, and capital resources. But those are details. More than anything else, building a business—really, building anything—is an act of faith. Because you’re creating something out of nothing. You are moving into the future on invisible wires, without a net.

It’s easy to say, “Hold a vision.” The hard part isn’t the vision. Anyone can come up with a vision. The hard part is the holding.
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