Book Review: Becoming Your Best, by Steven R. Schallenberger
Every once in a while I run across a book that is so good, so clear, so concise and helpful, that I share it with all of my coaching clients. “Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders” is one of those books that comes along that is worth reading and worth opening again to refresh your memory every so often about the many great ideas contained within. Schallenberger refutes the notion that we have to choose between work and life, when we prioritize how to become our best self. “Becoming Your Best” is a treasure trove of great ideas and tools. If you read the book and reflect upon the tremendous advice contained within, you will be equipped to take your game to an entirely new level as a leader, and you will be well on your way to becoming consistently and predictably successful. If you’re interested in becoming the best version of your leadership self, read on…
To provide transformational leadership in a fast-moving, constantly changing world, we need to focus on ourselves first and foremost. Schallenberger challenges us to make sure that our character is purposefully aligned with our principles and values. In essence, if you live and conduct yourself at all times in accordance with the first principles that you believe in, you will earn the respect and trust of the people you seek to lead. It’s the principles that guide us through business and through our lives that make it easy for us to always position ourselves and others around us to be at our best. Schallenberger talks about how this is toughest when life brings us adversity, and things get tough. In those moments of choice, we need to be strong and do what we need to do to bring honor to ourselves and others. In doing so, we begin to weave the tapestry that becomes our character and provides the foundation for trust and encourages others to follow us.
With our principles guiding our character, we need to begin to lead with an inspirational and clearly communicated vision. Consistently effective leaders always have a vision that they are pursuing, and the clearer that they can make that vision to their followers, the higher the chance that the followers will be inspired to sign up and make that vision their cause. When you’re sure of where you want to head, and why you have decided to head in that direction, you can inspire and motivate your team to commit and to move in the direction of that vision. Having a vision is fantastic, but to get the vision to become a reality, you need to get specific and develop goals and objectives that will increase the likelihood of the vision coming to fruition. Great leaders need to develop a strategy and plan ahead for adversity and resistance, and then to manage the plan and encourage your team to execute it. Managing the plan has a lot to do with letting go. You cannot hold onto the reins so tightly that your team won’t make mistakes and learn from them. You also need to remember to keep yourself, and every member of your team focused and working on the right things at the right time. Prioritizing, so that the best resources are focused on the most important work at the right time, to make the vision possible, will help you and the team to achieve what you have envisioned.
Transformational Teams & Relationships
Schallenberger encourages us to live by the Golden Rule and to always treat others as you would like to be treated. I don’t want to pick nits, but I might recommend going a step further and implementing Tony Alessandro’s Platinum Rule, where we always treat others as THEY would like to be treated. Either way, you cannot go wrong, as it sets you up for creating real value in long-term relationships. Relationships are always about creating value for the other person in the relationship. The way to go about creating value is by serving the other person’s interests. You cannot do that effectively unless you first begin to act in ways that will generate trust and maintain it at a high level over the course and duration of your relationship. You’ve also got to genuinely care about the journeys of others as you build relationships. Most of us need to improve our listening skills as we ascend our way to our objectives. If you need proof of that, just ask my wife, Jeannie, whether I need to improve my listening skills? My guess is that she will affirm that, yes, Michael does need to improve his attention. Understand what others are going through, pay attention, care about their experience, and employ some empathy for their ride.
To continue building teams and relationships, each of us needs to find ways to communicate at the most effective level possible. How do you do that, you ask? Be candid. Be clear. Care about the other person. Understand them. Set goals and expectations clearly. Seek and provide candid feedback along the way to ensure you understand everything that you need to in order to build collaboration and relationships. A critical factor in becoming a great communicator (which will enable you to become the best leader you can be) is to ensure that you consistently manage your emotions. If you react with anger, you will destroy or damage psychological safety for your teammates, colleagues, and customers. Schallenberger reminds us that losing control of our emotions is as damaging a mistake as any of us can make as leaders. We must be highly self-aware, and socially aware, and be able to control our responses to challenging situations if we’re going to build and manage successful relationships with those we would attempt to lead. I’ll share a great quote from the book, Schallenberger challenges us to “Don’t react. Listen and understand.” I couldn’t say it any better.
Finally, if you’re going to transform relationships & connect teams for success, you’re going to need to show some imagination and encourage yourself and everyone around you to focus on creativity and innovation. Encourage curiosity and asking great questions. Encourage your team to brainstorm and to see not just the problems, but also the opportunities on the playing field. Learn to tap into your subconscious mind, support and promote creativity within your team, and remember to document your great ideas, so they don’t disappear!
To conclude this excellent book, Schallenberger reminds us to always accept accountability. His advice is to not over-complicate things, to just admit humanity, and to apologize and go to work to resolve the misunderstanding or the mistake. Own up to your responsibilities and keep moving forward. In addition to always choosing accountability, he challenges us to remain connected to the environment around us and to deal with reality by being driven by data. The power of knowledge is an awfully potent force, but you have to tap into it by accessing it. Read books regularly, access training opportunities, invest in yourself and your future, invest in your team, surround yourself with people who can extend your potential rather than holding you back. All brilliant advice, but advice that often doesn’t get acted upon. As the book concludes, the concept of being at peace with yourself and maintaining a sustainable balance becomes a priority. Schallenberger outlines a nifty tool he calls the Circle of Peace and Balance. The Circle has six spokes: health, intellect, financial well-being, social relationships, security, and your spirit. Think of those six imperatives as the spokes of a wheel, and keep them strong, and the wheel keeps turning. If they are weakened or ignored, they break, and things come to a screeching halt. The final big idea in Schallenberger’s masterpiece is the notion that nobody ever accomplished anything that was game-changing by giving up too soon. Choose to be persistent. Choose to overcome resistance and adversity. Choose to press on, despite the odds against you. Learn from your failures and choose to continue moving forward toward something great. Never give up! Think of your resilience and your persistence like the Northern Star, and use it as a constant guiding mechanism for your current and future success. It’s always worth it… and always the difference between success and failure.
Talking Through It
I hope you enjoyed this lengthy blog article about a great book, “Becoming Your Best,” by Steven R. Schallenberger. I’ve been recommending this book to my clients frequently in these times of challenge, as there has never been a more opportune moment to work toward becoming your best and taking your leadership to an entirely fabulous new level of mastery. The book is available via Amazon and other booksellers and might set you back $20.00 or so, but it’s worth the wise investment. I wish you a good read and an even better journey toward becoming your best self and the best leader you can become.
Michael and his coaches work with C-Suite Executives, their Leadership Teams, and their Emerging Leaders, all over the United States. Fast Growth High Technology Companies have unique challenges and opportunities. Michael and his coaches understand those unique challenges and opportunities and are well-positioned to help you to assess the current state of your business and to put together an executable plan to take your business to an entirely more predictable and sustainable level of success. If you want a little more help, contact Michael Beach Coaching and Consulting for a free 2-hour consultation.