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November 2019
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Become a Present, Purposeful Leader
TD Magazine

Become a Present, Purposeful Leader

The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self—Every Day

By Amy Jen Su
Harvard Business Review Press, 256 pp., $28

Walking into a bookstore today, it's easy to find a seemingly endless shelf of personal development and self-help books. Unfortunately, when searching for guidance toward your personal growth—such as improving your leadership skills—pinpointing a source that contains simple solutions can be overwhelming. Furthermore, after finally identifying a resource, once you consume it, you must be able to obtain easy, actionable takeaways that fit into your already busy lifestyle.

The Leader You Want to Be provides readers with a well-rounded, accessible strategy for focusing on putting yourself first to transition into a more purposeful and present leader. Su first introduces two types of leaders: Leader A, who is self-aware, mindful, and passionate about work; and Leader B, who is in a default state of doing, reacting, and just plain busyness. Of course, Leader A is our ideal state.

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Su provides a framework to easily identify your Leader A and Leader B traits, which becomes the basis of the remainder of her book. She explains that, by focusing on the five Ps (purpose, process, people, presence, and peace), we can recognize and shift from a reactive (Leader B) to a proactive (Leader A) mindset. Throughout the book, Su provides tactile tools to self-assess our behaviors and determine actions to aid in this shift.

The exercise that stood out to me most was identifying my own personal passion and contribution quadrants, located in "The Power of Purpose" chapter. Although I am clear on what I am passionate about, I would not say that I always reflect my passions in my daily work. This exercise gave me a strategic method to look at my daily activities and determine what should stay and go for me to remain in my Leader A framework.

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Following my own trait identification, I also found "The Power of People" chapter extremely valuable. It enabled me to evaluate my strengths (discovered in the previous chapter) against my team's. In doing so, I was able to create new definitions, roles, and responsibilities for my team.

As a result of completing the action items in both those sections, I have already begun to migrate tasks off my plate and provide other team members with new growth opportunities.

Overall, The Leader You Want to Be is an excellent choice for leaders at all levels who are willing to assess themselves and take the necessary action to stimulate personal growth. It provides a comprehensive framework with useful exercises to further enhance your leadership growth.

About the Author

Lindsay Kirsch is a learning and performance specialist with more than 12 years in the industry.

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