The further into this book, A Leadership Kick in the Ass, I read the more I appreciated the content. Nearing the end of the final chapter I’m thinking, “Wait a minute. It’s almost over and Bill is still bringing up important factors instead of winding down in summary.” Here are just a few nuggets of truth in this gold mine.
A leader’s primary job is to make people uncomfortable. If you had read the previous 130 pages of the book you would know that this version of uncomfortable is not the anxious and fear-inducing variety as that caused by unrelenting pressure or bullying. Treasurer says of making people uncomfortable, “People and organizations don’t grow in a zone of comfort.” Do you want to prevent apathy and complacency? Then nudge people into discomfort so they develop new skills and abilities.
Then one more from late in the book, and you will appreciate this. “You want to be a good leader? First concentrate on being a good person.” And in that statement is ammunition for the prelude to what became my takeaways from this book, A Leadership Kick in the Ass.
The best motivation for making progress is a swift kick in the derriere. We’ve been told that since we were old enough to irritate our parents, right? This book is full of aha moments when we can all relate to that swift kick that propelled us into some action that we had been oblivious to before. In fact, at one place the author asks if we realize that the word obvious is only one letter away from oblivious. How often is it only from a sudden jolt that we move swiftly from oblivious to realizing the obvious? Life is hard, leadership is tough. There is no easy road for the novice leader and it’s all uphill from there. This book points out and teaches some of the most basic tenets of relationships and influence that have an impact on being a leader.
The reading style is lively, personable, and direct. The short sections are perfect for bite-sized learning with the best anecdotal mix of stories, facts, and practices. Just for a moment, think about the qualities in leaders you most admire then contrast those with sub-standard behavior of leaders whose memories still make you cringe. Unless you are fresh out of school and dabbling in your first real job, there is very little in this book that you will not identify with. Here then, are a few takeaways from each of the four sections of the book.
What are the four stages of a good swift butt kick? Bill Treasurer breaks it down for us.
- Comfortable Oblivion, in which you are blind to your own behavior – until you get your butt kicked.
- Startling Sting, in which you experience painful emotions such as fear, anger, rejection or depression.
- Change Choice, in which you must accept or reject what you have just been informed of.
- Humility or Arrogance, in which you become staunchly humble determined to learn from this butt kick or staunchly arrogant, get defensive and refuse the feedback.
The best part is the author discusses at length and with clarity the advantages of choosing to accept the revelation as an opportunity to learn, grow, and strengthen leadership capabilities.
No leader escapes without facing or causing some form of butt kicks during his or her career. At some time, and maybe often, your confidence will be shaken to the core, you will realize your intentions have not netted the results you expected, your ego will be pummeled – and if you are going to become a leader others want to follow, you will experience the Holy Shift. What, you might ask is the Holy Shift? This is the hinge of servant leadership. Your leadership mindset shifts from How successful can I be?, to What can I do to help them be more successful?
“Butt kicks teach new leaders that the fastest way to great results is taking a genuine and active interest in helping others succeed.”
Leading, For Worse or For Better
Leadership arrogance, at least in my experience, neutralizes the impact of authentic leadership. This chapter delves into the traits that have been a barrier to progress for centuries. Treasurer talks about arrogance, weaknesses, confidence, humility, ego, and balancing self-absorption with self-neglect. This section of the book was my favorite because much was revealed about how it feels to be the follower when your leader struggles with being both confident and humble. On the surface, those two character traits seem like an oxymoron, but they are, in fact, a perfect match for strong leadership. While the author explains each of these in more detail, here are a mix of tips for building confidence and humility: Increase competency, Walk through your fears, Get physically fit, Build confidence in others, Stand next to something big, Get spiritually fit, Serve others
“When your confidence and humility are right-sized, you’ll become a more grounded and authentic leader. “
Be Humble, Be Good
The cycle of healthy growth will continue as long as “you take stock of your leadership impact and keep arrogance and weaknesses at bay.” Being a courageous leader means you will be attentive to self-examination and aware of how you come across to people so you can take steps to modify your behavior if you slide off into arrogance and inflated ego. The world needs more good leaders. You could be one of them. You might already be one of them. Bill Treasurer says right there in black and white, “It ain’t easy being good. Taking the high road is the right thing, but it’s also the hard road.” I wasn’t going to end this way, but why not give it to you straight out of the book. These 10 tips are a kick toward becoming the good leader the world needs. Start from bad, Conduct a kick review, Invite feedback, Hang out with good people, Bring good to bad, Fess up, Develop a leadership point of view, Lead from a high road, Be good to others, Be good to yourself.