Four Factors That Facilitate Success

When Michael Lindsay studied one of the most effective leadership learning programs in the U.S.A., he turned to the White House Fellowship program. As he interviewed graduates of that program, he found there were four main factors the program facilitated for its participants. These factors paved the way for a future of wide open possibilities. (See, View From the Top.)

ONE: Significant Work.
The program offers the opportunity to do work that matters, work that is challenging and meaningful, and work that is diverse. To grow in leadership, you need lots of opportunities to learn and practice skills, and to be exposed to a skill set that is outside your normal group of competencies.

TWO:  Broadening Education.
Just one of the many excellent points made in this book had to do with the idea of the Deep Generalist. I am running across this idea more often as I read the leadership literature. It is an idea whose time has come. Lindsay is one of the recent proponents who believes that a wide, liberal-arts education, that explores diverse fields, is a powerful shaping influence for leaders. Great leaders have knowledge, insight, and wisdom that lies outside their more narrow range of specialty and expertise. The more broadly one learns, they discover the power of synergy as diverse ideas intersect and interact, with powerful possibilities emerging.

THREE:  A Diverse Cohort of Peers.
For many leaders, this is not natural or easy. Like tends toward like. We prefer people who are similar to us. However, for maximum learning, you will do much better from sustained interactions with peers who are quite UNLIKE YOU. Make many contacts. Build your network. And when you do - make sure you meet many different people who are not like you. Ask questions, observe, get to know who they are and their point of view.

FOUR: Public Recognition.
This is the one that I pushed back on. No reason, other then I push back on self-promotion. That is not what Lindsay is describing here. Here is what Lindsay found. It is public recognition that opens more doors. It is this recognition that gets your name out there for others to notice and offer invitations. You can't get an invitation to a significant role if no one knows you exist. A good learning program will put you out there for others to discover you, value you, and open doors for you to join with them (or lead them).

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International