What An Emperor, A Mathematician And A Pitch Artist Can Teach You About Leadership

By | May 28, 2014
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EmperorYou don’t need another list of leadership tips.

Leaders are forged through long experience and serious trial. Every agency leader at every level of the organization is different. And each agency must nurture its own brand of leadership to achieve its goals.

What that means is: Tips are good, but resources you can revisit for the rest of your career and use to meet your own leadership needs are better.

We’ve collected three uncommon sources of leadership knowledge that we believe can give you tools to grow your leadership abilities on your own terms and in your own environment.

Read on to discover what a long-dead emperor, a number cruncher and a living master of the pitch can teach you about leadership.

Learning Leadership From a 2,000 Year Old Emperor

Ryan Holiday (@RyanHoliday) is a marketer just like you. But he also moonlights as a practicing Stoic.

Stoicism is a 2,000-year-old philosophy that emphasizes mastering yourself, and practically applying those lessons to enrich your life. (Read a write-up of Stoicism 101 by Holiday on Tim Ferriss’ website.)

Holiday’s latest book, The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph, details how history’s greatest individuals used Stoicism to overcome obstacles and turn them to their advantage. And that’s what effective leadership is all about: defeating roadblocks while making yourself and your team stronger for it.

It’s no coincidence many of the people Holiday profiles are renowned leaders such as Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller, Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt and Marcus Aurelius (the Roman emperor widely credited as one of the most successful practicing Stoics).

But this book isn’t just valuable for its stories. It also gives you an easy-to-use framework for applying Stoic principles to your decision-making. The leadership results can be profound—both for your team and your organization.

Want to Lead Better? Learn How to Play This Game

Great leaders understand the larger strategic picture that impacts their organization’s mission, goals and direction. One powerful way to do that is through the application of game theory. Game theory is the mathematical discipline that details how to thrive in strategic situations with two or more actors.

Don’t worry; we’re intimidated by the subject, too. Which is why Game-Changer: Game Theory and the Art of Transforming Strategic Situations is so valuable. It’s a digestible, compelling explanation of game theory for the layman. Better yet, it gives you actionable tools to lead more strategically starting today.

With game theory, your leadership skills are going to go pro.

Your Clients Are Waiting for You to Lead Them

On the surface, Blair Enns’ (@BlairEnns) The Win Without Pitching Manifesto is about how creatives can win business without devaluing their work. In it, Enns lays out how we must conduct ourselves if we wish to work with clients as equal partners.

These principles aren’t just effective in pitch situations. They also represent a complete paradigm shift that will help you more effectively lead your clients. And make no mistake: Clients need your leadership as much as your coworkers, reports and team members do.

The book outlines principles such as developing a deep expertise, being selective and proactive, and having conversations rather than presentations. Enns gives you the tools to lead clients, even if you’re not in a situation where you would typically “pitch.”

Read an in-depth interview with Enns we published if you want to learn even more.

What uncommon sources of leadership knowledge have you discovered? Let us know in the comments.

Image Source: schizoform