The Five-Minute Leadership Degree Let’s say you’re a good leader. You’ve been quite effective in leadership positions for some time now, and you are confident in your abilities.

enter site One day, a local organization asks you to teach a series on leadership. You are honored and happily embrace the invitation. Then it strikes you: “I’m a good leader, but I have absolutely no idea how to teach it.” In a panic, you dash to the internet like a baby after its binky. The overwhelming number of links to leadership research immediately intimidates you, and the thrill of your opportunity shifts to fear and hopelessness.

Philip Kuehn is a talented young friend of mine. Phil’s musical abilities were quite evident to us when he was a child: He seemed to absorb both the art and science of music right out of thin air. Since then he’s gone on to perform on the world’s stages with the likes of Winton Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr., and Tony Bennett. He’s traveled the planet.

Recently, Phil plopped himself down in Ephriam, Utah to teach music at acclaimed Snow College. And that’s where his story takes such an interesting turn, a story he told me at a party in his honor.

Among Phil’s many responsibilities was to teach the Fundamentals of Music and Theory, what some might call Music 101. And he felt he couldn’t. With his many years of experience and performance, Phil felt ill prepared to teach a basic music course. Why?

He’d never been shown how to teach it!

That brief time of concern for Phil nicely illustrates a challenge we leaders often face in the workplace: How can we pass along our figurative Doctorates in Leadership to less-experienced leaders in our organizations? And more to the point, how can we do it rapidly?

Phil achieved his success chiefly through observation and practice, just as we do ourselves. This is not to say that some form of study doesn’t play a part in our achievements, but most of us learn leadership through experience. Is there a way to pass such knowledge along succinctly and in a short time? You may have trouble teaching a leadership series, but yes, you can easily teach the real keys to quality leadership. I call it “The Five-Minute Leadership Degree,” and you can bestow it yourself.

Just give your future leader these instructions:

  1. Name five people whom you admire for their leadership abilities.
  2. Write down leadership attributes of each person that inspire you the most.
  3. Condense this list of attributes to three (ex.: Trustworthiness, Integrity, Humility.)
  4. Be mindful of these three at all times, diligently practicing them in your thoughts and actions for at least one month. Tell a trusted friend about your plans and ask for their help.

The most important lessons from the greatest leaders boil down to the application of a few important attributes. Name them. Observe them. Practice them. In one month, this five-minute exercise can do for personal leadership development what might have otherwise taken decades.

This entry was posted in 2. The Power of Who You Will Become, 3. The Power of Capacity, 4. The Power of Relationship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Five-Minute Leadership Degree

  1. Marion says:

    Great piece Jeff! I am sharing it, and keeping a copy on my desk :-)

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