Leadership is Dead: How Influence is Reviving It is a book by Jeremie Kubicek (@jeremiekubicek), President and CEO of GiANT Impact, a leadership development organisation involved in the Chick-fil-A Leadercast, as well as other leadership initiatives and programs.
The book’s structure is fairly straightforward. Chapters one through four provide context and theory, and then chapters five through nine provide practical steps and applications.
Why the title “Leadership is Dead”? This is the question that comes to the minds of many who read the book’s title. The best way of answering this is in the works of the author.
“In my view, leadership as we have known it is dead because far too many leaders have abused their positions and lost their moral bearings.
From the banking industry collapse to corporate greed, these leaders have abandoned all long-term responsibility and discipline in favor of short-term gains.
The runaway greed of Wall Street’s leadership, skyrocketing salaries for corporate executives, and unkept promises from political leaders have left most people feeling betrayed and jilted. Not only do we not trust our leaders, but in many cases, employees are becoming victims of these unresponsive leaders.
Consequently, most leaders are now viewed with cynicism and skepticism, and many have lost the trust of those they are supposed to inspire and motivate.”
It’s not that leadership is dead, it’s the way in that many choose to lead that is dead. Realizing that command and control styles of leadership don’t work anymore, Kubicek sees leadership as influence, “I realized that positive leadership occurs not by ‘leading’ others but rather by influencing them.” The leadership theory presented in the book is based on what Kubicek calls, “The Influence Model”, which describes how leadership is a process of influence, where influence occurs through.
“…a hunger to serve others and the willingness to self-assess and self-motivate through the process to maintain healthy, authentic relationships.”
The book goes on to explore the enemy of influence, self-preservation. Kubicek posits, the instinctual need to protect the self is why leadership is dead. To rise above self-preservation and to be effective, the influence model is supported by seven leadership actions, that are important for leaders seeking to exert influence in the lives of others. These seven actions are as follows:
- Give trust to become trustworthy
- Become credible, not just smart
- Be intentional in your influence
- Break through your walls of self-preservation
- Pursue relationship before opportunity
- Give yourself away
- Become significant in your impact.
These seven actions lead to influence and to have influence, is to have power. You cannot talk about leadership as influence without touching on the use of power.
“Influence is about power. Before you can become a leader, you need to determine how you will use your power…. Leadership is influence. Influence is power. In wielding that power, a leader can choose to use it in one of two ways: To empower and liberate or To overpower and dominate”
So, the choice by leaders on how they use power is critical. Are you as a leader using power to dominate or to liberate? The best leaders use power to liberate!
The book ends with a challenge, with the chapter titled, “Why You Probably Won’t Do This.” In this chapter, Kubicek makes the following observation.
“Most leaders never reach the levels of significant influence because their instincts for self-preservation are too strong…. True influence comes when you change yourself to change the world.”
The book is very well-written, primarily from a business perspective and remains engaging from beginning to end. Kubicek does not use research or other well-known leadership authors in support of the his leadership ideas. Given this, much of the ideas and concepts presented in the book seems to be largely influenced by Kubicek’s personal and business experience.
Kubicek is not the first leadership author to advocate, leadership as influence and that we need an alternative approach to the out-dated, but still very much practiced, command and control leadership style. Many of the themes and ideas seem to be strongly influenced by a servant leadership approach, which is not a new idea. For those who want to explore the idea of servant leadership more deeply I would recommend reading Robert Greenleaf’s book “Servant Leadership.”
If not new, the book is timely, written as a wake up call to leaders, in a time when much of society is disillusioned and sceptical of most leaders. In this respect the book has a very relevant and important message for leaders today.
The book makes for a convincing argument for a leadership style focused more on influence. However, I would have like to have seen more emphasis on providing the reader with tools to help people move towards becoming more influential leaders.
In summary, although there is little new in the book, it’s message this is a timely, especially in the current environment of economic, political and social uncertainty.
This is a great business book, well-written, that speaks to the heart rather than the head.
One of the central principles I subscribe to is: “If you want to change the world, you need to start by changing yourself. Specifically, you need to change yourself in ways that increase your influence with those around you. This book provides a great catalyst to this process of explaining how become a leader of influence by overcoming the desire for self-preservation, a tendency that derails many leaders.
This book is challenging as it asks uncomfortable questions about your intent and motivation for being a leader. In this respect, I think the book will be more challenging to those leaders who are leveraging the power of their position’s to lead, rather than leading through influence. So why not give a copy of this book to one command and control type leader you know!
I was personally challenged by this book. It caused me to reflect on my motivations for leading. The author comes across authentic and real, this moved me emotionally and caused me to reflect deeply as to my leadership intent and motives.
I would highly recommend this book to those aspiring to or who an already in a leadership position. Especially those who have not been exposed to the ideas and concepts of servant leadership or leadership as influence before. Overall a great leadership book.