The Ultimate Tension of Leadership

Gone are the days of the celebrity thought leader who owns a topic and only focuses on their writing and speaking, while outsourcing all their marketing, brand building, and business development.

There is no more “above the fray.”

Brendon Burchard is the prime case study for this new “all-in” necessity.

At current count, Brendon has authored six books. And as impressive as that is, writing a book is only a sliver of actually launching a book. He’s a master at both, which is how he’s become a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a #1 USA TODAY bestselling author, and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Few in the non-fiction space have earned this trifecta.

That doesn’t happen by accident or by buying your way onto the lists. That happens by authoring quality books and working insanely hard on not only your launch strategy but your brand strategy. Brendon is the stand-out example of understanding every aspect of his book projects, and he doesn’t simply rely on agents, publishers, and outside advisors to tell him what to do.

He tells himself what to do and then does it. Better than anyone in the industry.

Beyond authoring and launching books, his example is highly instructive for all of our careers, whether it’s your day job in an organization, a side hustle, or your life as an entrepreneur or solopreneur:

To thrive in an unrecognizable world, you need to balance what you know with learning what you don’t and then deliberately decide what you involve yourself in.

In her superb leadership book You Can’t Know It All, Wanda Wallace calls this a "spanning leader"—someone who no longer does the jobs of those they lead and therefore doesn’t have a close understanding of their expertise as individual contributors, but stays connected enough so they themselves stay relevant.

It’s a delicate balance. We hear it called working “on the system versus in the system.”

We also know some leaders’ “micromanagement” is another’s “quality control.” As you move from individual contributor to a leader of others, you must decide what you do and don’t do yourself, what you hire others for, and what you stay deeply involved in.

It’s the ultimate tension every leader faces daily.

You don’t want to suffocate your team, but you also want to ensure your experience, past and future, is valuable.

Brendon is a superb example of facing this tension and building a high-performing team while also setting himself up as an example of learning, adapting, and modeling new and better behaviors to stay relevant.

If you think that 'making it' means you no longer do the work that got you there, you're wrong. Just look at Brendon. Brendon made it to the proverbial top, but he doesn't take the elevator there.

He takes the stairs every day. 

Brendon has made it to the highest levels of fame and fortune in his space, yet he could give a workshop on every aspect of his organization—spanning social media posts to job listings. Every step of the way he has moved in the direction of leadership he made sure to never completely detach from the work that got him there. 

What are you doing to balance this ultimate tension of leadership between directing and doing? If you're doing the job you've always been doing and you haven't made the leap to a leader's mindset, I'd suggest you watch the latest On Leadership episode with Brendon immediately


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About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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