Cookie-cutter leadership?

Cookie-cutter leadership. Leadership best practices. Leadership rules.Photo of a chocolate-chip cookie on a slightly-crumpled paper background

Let’s be clear: none of that actually exists

Except perhaps in people’s wishes and dreams and textbooks.

Don’t get me wrong: there absolutely are foundational skills and important tools of leadership that you need to learn.

But applying them in a cookie-cutter way doesn’t work, best practices are only “best” according to a few people and for a  short time, and rules are great when you’re playing games – but leadership is no game.

It is highly situational and individual.

Let me repeat that.

Leadership is individual and situational

Every manager – including you – is an individual, with your own individual perspective and style.

Every individual – including your team – is unique, with their own responses, reactions, wants, and needs.

Every situation is filled with a bazillion different variables – and therefore no two situations are alike.

I can – and do – teach the foundational skills and tools of leadership. As I said, those are important to learn and understand.

But – and this is huge – they only become your skills and your tools when you’ve actually used them in the heat of the moment – or, as my husband says, at “game speed.”

Which is why any conceptual learning is just and only that – conceptual – until you’ve engaged with it, observed how it works, and actually practiced it yourself.

Practiced it – which is not role-play, but truly in the heat of the moment, and more than once or twice.

That’s how you get to game speed, so you’re prepared when you don’t have time to think about the rule or the best practice (or the cookie!), but need to act, to make a decision, to intervene in a situation, to respond to a problem.

The books and courses and programs and podcasts – and, and, and – by all means listen, read, watch, study.

But I think we’ve all experienced That Thing where we come back from a workshop, put down the book, return from the conference, filled with the excitement of new ideas, great concepts, wonderful best practices … and that excitement deflates like a sad balloon in the face of day-to-day reality.

And we scratch our heads and think … wait. HOW does that work again?

Learning the tools and skills is great. But practicing them is what makes a manager into a leader.

And this is why I created the Community of Practice, Learning, and Experience for first-line managers. It’s not a “program” or a “course”; it’s an interactive experiential learning community, where members normalize the experience of being a first-line manager (which can be highly anxiety-inducing) and learn from each other AND me, an experienced leadership trainer, coach, and community facilitator. To learn more, click here.