The Heart of Leadership by Mark Miller


I finished another good business fable last week, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow by Mark Miller. This is an amazing leadership book that I strongly recommend. It was very fitting that Patrick Lencioni wrote the forward of this book.

In this business fable the author talks about foundational leadership characters. Characters, which is 90% of leadership, remains unseen, like the bulk of an iceberg. The author came up with the below acronym HEART to explain how leaders are different –

  • H – Hunger for wisdom
  • E – Expect the best
  • A – Accept responsibility
  • R – Respond with courage
  • T – Think others first

Here are some quotes from the book that I would like to remember –

  • You can lead, with or without, a title. If you wait until you get a title, you could wait forever.
  • Title doesn’t make someone a leader — and the absence of a title shouldn’t keep someone from leading.
  • When leaders lead well, not everyone is going to be happy.
  • If you feel the need to make everyone happy, you should be a wedding planner not a leader.
  • Leaders don’t try to make people unhappy. However, leaders just know, progress is always preceded by change. And some people don’t like change.
  • Don’t confuse opportunity with leadership. Others control many of our opportunities, so that shouldn’t be our concern. We control our readiness.
  • Get ready to lead and opportunities to lead will not be your problem.
  • The lack of skills is not what derails most leaders — skills are too easy to learn. It is ultimately leadership character that determines our opportunity for influence and impact.
  • When faced with a challenging or difficult situation, the best leaders most often respond with courage; less mature leaders, or non-leaders often choose another path-a path with less risk, less conflict, and less personal discomfort.
  • If your heart is not right, no one cares about your leadership skills.
  • The heart is a muscle, and you strengthen muscles by using them. The more I lead with my heart, the stronger it gets.
  • When you expect the best from people, you will often see more in them than they see in themselves. The good news is that people generally rise to the level of expectations placed on them.
  • Expecting the best is not about always being right. It is about a belief in yourself and in your team.
  • The glass is always completely full-half air and half liquid.
  • Believe in your ability to create the future. That’s what leaders do-that is our job. Understand reality but never be imprisoned by it. Reality is a moment in time. The future has not yet been written-it is written by leaders.
  • If you don’t demonstrate leadership character, your skills and your results will be discounted, if not dismissed.
  • Napolean said Leaders are dealers in hope. Hope of a better tomorrow.
  • When you expect the best, one of the risks is that you will not be grounded in reality. However, optimism is not about ignoring the facts. You still need the facts. You also need people around you to tell you the truth. However, there is greater risk in expecting the worst. Pessimists will have trouble attracting followers. They will be timid and avoid risks. And the opportunity and rewards that go with that risks will forever illude the leader.
  • The best leaders want to leverage all the capabilities of the people in their organization.
  • You need to think of your quest for wisdom as a hunger that will never be satiated. The mere thought that you’ve arrived will spawn pride and arrogance.
  • The best leaders don’t blame others. They own their actions and their outcomes.
  • See the Future Engage and Develop Others Reinvent Continuously Value Results and Relationships Embody the Values
  • First, believe in your ability to create the future. That’s what leaders do—that is our job. Understand reality but never be imprisoned by it. Reality is a moment in time. The future has not yet been written—it is written by leaders.
  • Servant leadership….contrary to conventional leadership in which the leader’s focus is on himself and what he can accomplish and achieve. Rather, the focus is on those being served. Servant leaders do many of the same things other leaders do—cast vision, build teams, allocate resources, and so on. The big difference is their orientation and their motivation; these make all the difference in the world. They possess an others-first mindset. The servant leader constantly works to help others win.
  • Decision-making is a skill. Wisdom is a leadership trait.
  • Ninety percent of our success as leaders will be determined by what’s below the waterline. It’s our leadership character that ultimately drives what we do, and why. It is a true reflection of who we really are as human beings.
  • When leaders fail to thrive, the culprit is often their leadership character, not their lack of skills.
  • Many people in the world see events as they are; leaders are different in that they see things that could be. And the future they see is always a better version of the present. We believe we can make a difference; we think we can make the world, or at least our part of it, better. Leaders are generally more optimistic than non-leaders.

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