Born or Made?, Leadership and Manipulation, Subordinate Your Ego, (pages 63-78)
Part One: Leadership Strategies, 1. Foundations, H. Born or Made? I. Leadership and Manipulation, J. Subordinate Your Ego, (pages 63-78)
H. Born or Made?
Are leaders born or made? It’s a question that has been pondered for as long as leadership has been discussed. The author states that we all have a unique set of physical attributes. Some can be improved on, strength, endurance, etc. Some can’t, height, fast-twitch, and slow-twitch muscles, etc. He goes on to say that even though we have the ability to improve some physical characteristics, “…eventually, we are confined by our DNA”. Additionally, he goes on to state there are certain traits one is born with that can beneficial to leadership, being articulate, problem-solving, confidence, charisma, and the ability to read people. The key is understanding your strengths and weaknesses and then improving on those weaknesses. Also, when building a team, counterbalance weaknesses.
This section was one that I have thought about often. I have met many outstanding leaders who just seemed born to lead. They have the physical and mental attributes and things just seem to come easy to them. I must admit, I am a little jealous of them! However, as the author states, and I agree with, leadership traits can be improved upon. It takes the ability to recognize weaknesses and then the determination to improve them.
I. Leadership and Manipulation
Leadership is viewed as a positive while manipulation as a negative. Both are closely related as they both look to get people to do what you want them to do. However, the biggest difference between the two is the reason why you want them to do something. In leadership, the reason is to benefit the team and mission while manipulation looks to only benefit the leader. The author states that the highest form of leadership is to get people to do what you want because they want to do it. To ensure the leader is leading and not manipulating, the leader needs to always put the team and mission ahead of any personal concerns.
This section does a good job defining the similarity and differences between leadership and manipulation. I have felt at times that I could have been manipulating those when attempting to implement change initiatives. However, this section reassures me that I was leading as the change initiatives were all aligned with the mission. I wish I could have read this section many years ago.
J. Subordinate Your Ego
The author provides an example of when he worked with the CEO of a company who was by all standards, outstanding. They initially clashed. As it turned out, the author realized it was his ego that was getting in the way. “Ego is like reactive armor, the harder you push against it, the more it pushes back”. However, understanding that and being able to quell your ego is extremely powerful. As the author states, “...subordinating your ego is actually the ultimate form of self-confidence”.
I have always attempted to remain humble. When success occurs, the reason is the team. When failures occur, the leader owns them. Subordinating your ego is a common thread in both this book and his previous book Extreme Ownership. It’s a lesson well worth learning.