Best Leadership Advice Heard at Leadercast 2016

Stephanie Davis Smith

13 May 2016

From Kat Cole’s hotshot rule to Andy Stanley’s clarity to Nick Saban’s thoughts on mediocre people, there was a lot of great advice dispersed at Leadercast 2016. The one-day event inside Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, Georgia, was attended live by 5,000 people and broadcast to 100,000 people at 800 host sites in 20 countries! Here are my picks for the five best leadership insights from the day.

1. “Adopt the hotshot rule.” —Kat Cole, group president of Focus Brands

Every now and again, Cole, former executive vice president of Hooters, stops and asks herself, “If poof! I’m gone and a hotshot [up-and-comer] is standing in my position today, what is the one thing they would look at and say, ‘This is unacceptable and the first thing I want to fix’?” Once she identifies what that person would fix, she makes the change herself.

2. “Clarity trumps integrity. Clarity results in influence.” —Andy Stanley, founder of North Point Ministries

What is the most important thing we look for in a leader? “Integrity and honesty,” answered Stanley. “But that’s not who we actually follow,” added the author and pastor. “We follow people who are the most clear [about their mission and message]. Clarity trumps integrity.” As examples, he named Hitler gaining influence with a microphone, President Obama’s clear takeaway of “change” during the 2008 election and Donald Trump’s seemingly victorious “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Above all else, leaders need to get clear about their company’s mission, said Stanley. “State it simply. Make it memorable—because memorable is portable. Get clarity around the idea and then infuse that idea with emotion,” he continued. Then, don’t “how the vision to death. It’s the what. A vision is not about how,” he said.

3. “The power of one is much greater than trying to affect the whole group.” —Nick Saban, head football coach, The University of Alabama

According to Saban, “Mediocre people don’t like high achievers, and high achievers don’t like mediocre people.” However, most leaders spend their time with the 5 percent of people doing things wrong—“energy vampires,” he calls them. If 95 percent of your team is doing the right thing, he advised leaders to focus on them instead.

The Crimson Tide coach told the crowd good leadership isn’t personalizing the message. “You lead better if you affect one person at a time,” he said. Saban added great leadership is “your willingness to help someone else for their benefit. If it’s for your benefit, it’s manipulation and it’s very easily seen.”

4. “Get off autopilot.” —Chris Barez-Brown, founder of Upping Your Elvis

“In life, humans are dominated by feelings, and we don’t do enough thinking,” argued Barez-Brown. “But in work, we’re dominated by thinking and not enough feeling.” He urged leaders to get off autopilot and start putting feeling and emotion into their work. “Eighty percent of our life is on autopilot. Although it’s efficient, it’s not a great place to lead from,” he said.

He asked the Leadercast crowd to raise their hand if they answered yes to these three questions:

• Do you sleep on the same side of the bed every night?

• Do you take the same route to work every day?

• Do you eat the same dish at the same restaurant each time?

If you would have had your hand raised, try Barez-Brown’s experiment called The Great Wake Up, an email with ways to shake up your life.

5. “Leadership is not complex. It’s simple.” —Rorke Denver, former Navy Seal, author and host of “American Grit”

Leadership is three things, says Rorke:

• Win the gunfight first. “You as leaders need to find out what that gunfight is for your group and win it. Or else someone else will.”

• Play without a safety net. “So that when you have to go out on a limb, you’re used to it.”

 Follow the 90/10 percent rule for leaders. “As a leader, 90 percent of your behavior with your troops and people should be predictable. If they cross this line, they will know the consequence. Then, 10 percent of the time, throw curveballs. It’s a gift you give yourself and them.”

Stephanie Davis Smith

Stephanie Davis Smith is a multi-media and marketing maven who strategically guides product direction, content curation and brand overhauls to accelerate business growth. Currently, she's the VP of Content and Marketing at Connect Meetings. Prior to this position, she was the VP of Editorial for Modern Luxury Media and has worked at some of the best media companies in the world including Cox Communications and Conde Nast. Over the course of her 20 years in media, Smith has had an undeniable track record as an instrumental influence in helping companies shift with the times. She's a creative, results-producing, senior level communicator with experience as a social media pro, pioneering editorial director, voracious writer, public speaker and online community cultivator.

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