Friday, August 31, 2007

On The Road with Kevin Eikenberry

We're glad to have a final piece with Kevin Eikenberry, "Remarkable Leadership" author. You can see part 1, an earlier piece introducing Kevin and his book.

Road Map: Kevin, why are you so passionate about leadership?

Kevin Eikenberry: Leadership is an activity I have been observing, and doing since I was young. That reason alone should be enough! Beyond that however, I'm passionate about leadership because leaders create change. Whether creating a better product, a more cohesive team, or more peaceful solutions, leaders help change the world.

RM: Why the book “Remarkable Leadership.”

KE: I wrote this book for many reasons - here are just a few of those reasons:- to support and help our clients reach their goals.- to further my own knowledge and understanding of leadership- to share what I have learned with the broader world- to support the growth of my business- to help change the world in a positive way.

RM: Kevin, I had a strong feeling you would include --furthering your knowledge -- somewhere in the list. Why is learning continually so important in becoming a remarkable leader?

KE: We can't get better if we aren't open to learning. As a leader if we want to improve, we must continue to consciously be a learner - leadership is far too complex to attempt to succeed in any other way. Also as a leader if we want those we lead to continue to improve/learn, we must be a model of that behavior.

RM: The most debated question regarding leadership is..."Are leaders born or made?" How do you answer that question?

KE: I love this question and I answer it at the beginning of Chapter 1 (here's a preview). Are leaders made or born? The question seems to be eternal, yet the answer seems clear. I’ve never received a birth announcement in the mail, or read one in the newspaper, that announced the birth of a leader. Yet on any given day, we can read the obituaries in any newspaper and see which leaders have died. This simple analysis shows that leaders must be made. People can do and learn the skills of leadership. People can become leaders. . .We all are born with a unique set of skills and innate abilities. Some of us are born with talents that make us more easily successful as musicians, mathematicians, or mechanics. Others are blessed with talents that make empathy, persuasion, vision, or communication come more easily. We all are given a unique bundle of talents at birth, and it is our job to use that personal set of skills and abilities to maximize our potential throughout our life. Some of our unique talents will help us in our journey to becoming a remarkable leader, and other skills may not come as naturally to us, and so we may need to be more diligent or conscious in developing.

RM: So you’re saying leadership is about making a choice?

KE: Absolutely - leadership isn't a title - it is a choice. The most important choice is choosing to get on a personal path towards remarkable - which means choosing to improve each day.

RM: Let’s talk about reflection. You are puzzled that too few of us use the power of reflection to bring greater things to our lives. What do you say to the leader who is believes he/she is too busy to reflect?

KE: If people feel they are too busy it is either because they don't understand the power and purpose of reflection, or aren't aware of the ways to do it. All of us have time to reflect, but it might require some change to our current habits. Reflection is a powerful process of learning from our experiences which requires us to stop and think about those experiences! The habit change might be to turn off the radio in the car on the drive home, turn off the ipod while exercising, watching less television or reading less of the newspaper. 10-15 minutes of daily introspection will really accelerate anyone's learning progress.

RM: Chapter 15 is one of my favorite sections in the book. In this chapter you discuss the importance of leaders managing projects and processes successfully. One complaint I often hear in project review meetings is, "why are we doing this?" From your experiences, what can leaders do to create clear visions and gain buy-in from the team?

KE: Well the project review at the end of the project is critical to ongoing improvement - it is a process of group reflection and will allow for both individual and team learning.

RM: Before we wrap up, I have one final question. Who wins the Big Ten Football Championship next season…Ohio State or your alma mater -the Purdue Boilermakers?

KE: You want my heart answer? Of course it will be my beloved Boilermakers... but the experts say Wisconsin or Michigan will take the crown. But that is why they play (and we watch) the games.

RM: Kevin, it's been a pleasure. All the best.

Visit Kevin's website to learn more about this passionate leader. Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. There you can also find information how to order his exciting new book. I've read the book and I recommend it. The assessments in the book alone are worth the purchase price.

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