Leader Pathways

The Life of Leading Greatly  
April 2009

Mentoring Leaders for Bold Tomorrows

Individual Mentoring or Custom In-house Group Programs

Publishing and Speaking

In this Issue:

Obama's Leader Brand: What Do You "Snap" To?

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Leader Mentoring by Michael ShenkmanIn Leader Mentoring: Find, Inspire and Cultivate Great Leaders, Michael Shenkman makes the case that mentoring differs from instruction, teaching, and coaching in that it emphasizes not talents and skills used in executing a project but the qualities and values of life that are needed to sustain oneself in the creative endeavor. "No mentors, no leaders," he says, adding, "I want my new book to strongly advocate for leader mentoring as an essential, premium developmental service that aspiring leaders and their sponsors, bosses and partners need to invest in."

Click the book's cover to learn more.

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   Obama's Leader Brand: What Do You "Snap" To?

Michael Shenkman Let’s start a discussion.

What would Obama’s leader brand be?

The idea of a brand is this: when a leader walks into a room of his or her followers, what is the idea that those followers "snap to?" What is the single idea that pops into their minds, all of their minds, all at once, as what this leader is going to demand of them. Not what his “image” is, or what your opinion of him is… but what gets their attention? Seven words or less, a complete thought… no slogans.

Send your idea of Obama's brand to me at michael@leadermentoring.com. Tell me your thinking behind this brand, and also give us permission to publish your entry. I will submit the brands to a board of my Arch of Leadership colleagues and we’ll post the ones we think are most interesting, provocative and illustrative of the idea of the Leader Brand. NOTE: For more information on what I mean by “leader brand,” go to the website www.leadermentoring.com and click on “Arch of Leadership.” Look up the concept there. For you graduates of our program, this will serve as a review.

Whether or not you supported or now support Obama’s policies is beside the point of this exercise. We now have in the spotlight, every day, in the most dire of circumstances, a president who is willingly taking up the role of creative leading (not depending on the powers vested in him to accomplish his goals but by tapping into his drive to create followers in a great undertaking involving governmental powers that must transcend them). This is an object lesson in leading, it’s one of the best examples of it I have been alive to witness on the national political/governmental scene.

So let’s think about this man who is striving to create followers (taking up the work of the leader). What is it he demands of you as you contemplate whether or not to step into his arch?

Here is my entry: We Must Bring Our Best, and More.

Now my thoughts on what this brand expresses:

I sense from him a deep grasp of this dire and portentous moment. This is a time when we cannot hold back in the certainties of our expertise or the comforts of our habits. This is a time when we must resolve, with all the self-trust we can muster, to collaborate in an effort to restore our faith in the future and to create the laws, institutions, products and services that will take us into a more expansive and more encompassing way of life. He gets it.

President Obama defeated Hillary Clinton, I believe, because he spoke to something that was larger than government, larger than any policies the government will put into place. It was not that his oratory was superb, although it was. It was rather that he portrayed a commitment by which he would reshape the government not merely lead it. He defeated McCain resoundingly because that commitment manifested itself as steady, and despite the attacks; mature, considered and robust, despite his youth and “inexperience,” and deeply held, in a political environment that invited expediency.

He exudes self-trust. Can he be convinced of the success of his policies? No. Can he be confident that his policies will prevail, no less be enacted by Congress or the agencies that will have to execute them? No. But he can take one real, decisive, step at a time, and learn from it, so that the next one will be better.

He shrugs off any and all assertions of his “star power.” He goes back to the seriousness of the task at hand. His inaugural was short on showmanship and rhetorical flourish explicitly in order to convey the earthbound severity of the challenge. By so doing, he reminded us that this challenge is ours, all of ours, to face.

Has Obama created a follower in me? Yes. I have all the reservations any intelligent, active, engaged person would have in making this decision but I sense a leader in action and I have learned that by following, my own leading takes shape.

So what are your thoughts? Let the leader conversation -- the conversation among leaders, about leading, for the sake of stepping with more resolve into the life of leading – begin.

Help us! You can then say that you too joined forces to launch a new way to develop the aspiring leaders who bring us bold tomorrows. To learn more about how Arch can work with YOUR organization, contact me personally or visit www.leadermentoring.com.