Defining Leadership: #GLS14 Session 2

Carly FiorinaThis is a guest post by my friend Tal Shnall attended the 2014 Global Leadership Summit (#GLS14) and shared some great observations. This is a two-day event that is telecast live from Willow’s campus near Chicago every August. Throughout the fall, Summit events take place in an additional 350+ cities, 105 countries—translated into 50 languages.


“What you are is God’s gift to you; what you make of yourself is your gift to God.” This was on a plaque given to Carly Fiorina by her mother. Carly started off her career as a secretary. It was her boss who saw the potential in her and thought she could be more. Her boss was able to look beyond her position and into her potential.

Potential trumps Position

This is something leaders see all the time and act on relentlessly. They believe that human potential is the only truly unlimited resource in our world. However, it is worth noting that bureaucracies crush potential. They forget who they are there to serve. What unlocks human potential? The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential of others.

From the potential within her, Carly went on to become the CEO of Hewlett-Packard and Opportunity International Global Board Chair. She was named Fortune’s Most Powerful Woman in Business for six consecutive years. Under her leadership, Hewlett-Packard doubled in revenue to $90B, generated 11 patents per day and led the market for all of its product categories. A sought-after opinion leader and frequent commentator in both broadcast and print media. Carly is the Founder of One Woman Initiative, a global ambassador for Opportunity International, and chairperson of Good 360, the world’s largest philanthropy organization…

Leadership is not management

A manager works within the constraints of the environment. Leadership is about changing the order of things. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t start by changing the people in power but by unlocking the potential in people without power. Nelson Mandela didn’t become a leader because he was president. He became president because he was a leader.

People think a great speech is leadership. Words are not enough. The most important part of leadership is what leaders do.

Leadership frameworkLeadership Framework

The leadership framework addresses four major pillars. The first pillar is made up of the vision, strategy and goals. These help people to appreciate where they are heading and why they need to get there. Second pillar props up the organization, structure, and process. This pillar is focused on the team. It answers how are we going to work together to get the first pillar sorted out.

Pillar three acts like the dashboard in any vehicle. It has to do with all the gauges, lights and bells that monitor the performance of the car when it is running. This pillar looks at the metrics and how are we going to measure progress set out in the first two pillars. Culture and behavior form the final pillar. They coalesce the leadership framework and increase the level of impact of any initiative. In essence, this pillar answers the question, “What’s it like to work around here?”

What gets measured is what gets done

If you do not reward/punish stated values, people figure out what really matters is results. An organization cannot achieve its potential if it does not empower its people to achieve their potential. On average, out of every ten people, two of them are change agents, another two are resistant to any change or initiative, and six of them are skeptics waiting to be engaged.

Leadership is a profoundly human gift available to all. True leadership requires faith. Faith gives us the gift of empathy and optimism, both essential to leadership. Leadership is more about faith in others than confidence in oneself.

Leadership is a choice. Choose to change the order of things and unlock the potential of others.

How will you use this to define leadership and unlock people’s potential? 


About Tal Shnall:

Is a leadership blogger, coach and leadership team development at Renaissance Hotel in Richardson Texas. He blogs at the Leadership Cafe where he is delighted to engage with you in leadership conversations. You can follow Tal on Twitter and Facebook.

Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.