Leadership – What’s Changed, and What’s Next

In 2021, I signed up for the Hero’s Journey with Darren Hardy. This is a year-long training course with a weekly call and homework, targeted to business owners and those in leadership positions in their company, in their community, or their family—so anyone who has a desire to learn and grow, bringing their best to everyone they touch, and everything they tackle.

A little background on Darren Hardy—I first heard him speak at an industry event and purchased his book The Compound Effect, then signed up for one of his online, self-guided programs. It was a 12-week commitment, but the commitment was to yourself; no one was going to hold me accountable, but even at that, Darren had constant challenges to ‘be the exception’ and finish the commitment. Since then, I have signed up for others. He even has a daily short video blog, Darren Daily, with a thought or challenge for the day.

So, what’s the ‘Hero’s Journey’ all about? Mr. Hardy’s definition: ‘A Hero is simply an ordinary person put in an extraordinary circumstance—who takes action.’ That’s his definition of a leader. I think you would agree that the last year-plus has been ‘an extraordinary circumstance’ for all of us, requiring all of us to dig deep as we strive to stay in business and thrive in very odd times.

He goes on to point out that the leaders of today require very different skills than the leaders 30, 40, or 50 years ago. We live in a very different time. We have more generations working together in the work force, more ethnicities, more cultures, and more women than any other time in history. As a work force, we also have more control, more choices when it comes to careers, location, length of employment, and who we work for and work with.

In Module 1, five (5) generations are identified. I found this fascinating as I stacked up our staff against these categories—I bet you will, too. One of our homework assignments was to find three people in generations other than our own and interview them.

  • The Builders, Traditionalists, Silent Generation, born 1930-1945
  • Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964
  • Generation X, born 1965-1980
  • Millennials, Generation Y, born 1981-1994
  • Generation Z, born after 1995

For those of us with children, we learned our parenting skills by watching our parents. Many of us have modified our parenting to meet gaps our parents missed, and to address the new realities our children face in their day-to-day lives, many of which didn’t even exist when we were growing up. This same concept holds true for our leadership skills. Whether you’re leading your family, your team, your business, a church group, or you’re on a committee in your industry, the leadership skills we grew up with are insufficient, actually fall short of what is needed today, right now.

There’s a great quote by BB King—’The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.’ I’ve had the pleasure of working with many business owners. They’re hardworking and deeply care about their businesses. Many are very engaged in their trade, participating on committees, advocating for their industry. It seems like there’s a perception that this ‘leadership learning stuff’ is for big companies, people with C-suite titles, not our ‘regular’ small businesses.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Each of you impact many people, every day. So how much time do you spend honing your leadership skills? What if you took Darren Hardy’s advice and carved out 30 minutes every day to read a book on the topic? Not sure where to start? We have quite a few book reviews to check out to find a topic or author to start with.

I have this short list of five goals that I see every morning: Model the Way; Encourage the Heart; Enable Others to Act; Challenge the Process; Inspire a Shared Vision. These originate with James Kouzes and Barry Posner as part of their research findings to discover what behaviors were common to leaders who make extraordinary things happen, right back to Darren Hardy’s definition. Where could you focus in 2022 to have a bigger impact in your family, with your friends, in your organization, and with your team?